The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has guided wildlife management in the United States. Originating in the 1800’s with the decline of premier sporting opportunities for the middle class, sportsmen advocated for preservation of wild habitat and wildlife management underlined by two basic rules- fish and wildlife are for non-commercial use of citizens and should be managed for optimum levels forever.
In 1938, in an effort lead by IWF, the people of Idaho voted by Citizen’s Initiative to remove politics from wildlife management by establishing an independent Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Now, by various schemes special interests desiring commercialization ceaselessly attempt to bring wildlife back into political mismanagement.
Privatizing Wildlife in Idaho: LAP Tags and Auction Tags
Discussed below, mandating auction tags and creating a secondary market for LAP tags is a slippery slope. If we allow our politicians to create a market for prized wildlife, there will no longer be a level playing field for Idaho sportsmen and women- the best Idaho hunting opportunities will belong to the those who can bid the most. Tell your local Senators and Representatives you oppose any attempts to privatize wildlife or reward wealthy individuals with better hunting opportunities. Leave our game management to the biologists.
The IDFG Commission has the authority to distribute “Auction” or “Governor’s” tags every year. The Commission bases its quota on previous years’ data and public input. Lately this has resulted in minimal tags issued. In response, state lawmakers are attempting to circumvent the Commission’s authority by mandating the sale of these auction tags regardless of science or public input. Some legislators evaluate that mandated tags will produce $200,000 annually for IDFG, widely agreed to be overestimation. This begs two questions- 1) If estimates aren’t met, how many tags will these legislators mandate next year? 2) Will legislators be content with just $200,000?
It is important to note that IWF is not opposed to the sale of auction tags and the sale does raise funds for IDFG, but we are opposed to our state legislature getting involved in wildlife management.
Landowner Appreciation Program tags are one way for landowners to be rewarded for providing quality habitat. However, recent attempts by special interests would allow landowners to profit from public wildlife by selling these tags, or receiving more tags and charging a “trespass fee”. IWF believes there should be a way to reward landowners who are good stewards of the land and we want to explore those ideas with landowners, legislators, and IDFG. But that reward should never include the ability to sell LAP tags once received. IDFG should be the only authority for tag distribution. Allowing a secondary market for LAP tags will:
- Allow wealthy hunters to go around average Idahoans to hunt in premier units
- Privatize wildlife, a public resource that belongs to us all
- Create economic markets of game, which historically leads to population decline