January 2017 Legislative Session Update
To get caught up on the issues, click here to view our 2017 Legislative Preview.
Auction Tags. It looks like IWF’s hard work is paying off! For a recap- here is a TV story on the issue, and here is a link to our original press release complete with the legislator emails IWF obtained through a public records request. The politicians that pushed the unpopular legislation have publicly stated they are backing off. However, let’s take that with a grain of salt. They promised the same last year but the bill was still introduced. Luckily IWF was there to shoot it down and we will continue to bird dog this issue. IWF connected almost 700 Idahoan sportsmen with their legislators on the issue, sending 2,500 letters to local legislators and the governor, and gathered 1,400 signatures for a petition against the idea. If you support efforts like these, consider becoming a member to help us continue to uphold sportsmen values.
Fee Increase for Hunting and Fishing Licenses. Here’s the deal: this fee increase DOES NOT AFFECT annual license purchasers. Fees will be raised by $1-$6 on various licenses and non-resident licenses. IDFG has not had a fee increase in 10 years. Due to inflation and the steady increase of Idaho’s human population, the agency’s ability manage animals is declining rapidly. This is a great way to increase funding while rewarding dedicated license purchasers. IWF is hard at work meeting with legislators daily on the issue. Click here to send a letter to your legislators and tell them to support the fee increase. So far IWF has connected over 200 Idaho sportsmen with their legislators, and sent 800 letters from sportsmen to the statehouse so far.
Public Lands Takeover Bills. Attempts to take your vote, voice, and access away from public lands management are coming. Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle has promised to introduce all of her public lands takeover bills that failed last year, “and then some”. How long can our legislators ignore polling data that 72% of westerners agree public lands belong to the nation, not the state? How long will they ignore that the public land recreation industry alone contributes $6.3 billion in annual income to the state (bigger than oil and gas, and automobile industries!)? How can they ignore that state management would cost Idaho taxpayers $1 billion in 5 years? Despite all this and more, our legislators refuse to incorporate any language that would protect public access and habitat standards for game and non-game species… Stay tuned for more when these bills are introduced.
Habitat Bills. Idaho Rep. Paul Shepherd introduced a bill that would nullify all federal laws in Idaho because his suction dredge mining bills continually violate laws that protect salmon and steelhead, and your right to fish them. If you are familiar with the US Constitution you will know that no state law may supersede a federal law. This bill is destined to fail. Instead of exploring creative ways to allow suction dredge mining that wouldn’t degrade our salmon and steelhead fishery (contributing one third of Idaho’s $500 million annual fishing industry), this doomed bill will waste taxpayer dollars without addressing solutions.
Chronic Wasting Disease and Imported Cervids. A rule change that passed through both Agricultural Affairs committees will allow private cervid (deer and elk) farms, or shooter-bull operations to test only 10% of harvested animals for CWD. With CWD moving in on Idaho’s borders, IWF testified that failure to test the remaining 90% of harvested domestic cervids leaves quite a wide door open for the devastating disease to cross our borders. States with CWD spend hundreds of millions to eradicate the disease, which causes mass mortality of infected herds. The FDA also recommends against human consumption of meat contaminated with CWD.
New IDFG Commissioners. Two new Commissioners had hearings last week and will be voted in later today, January 30th. Many sportsmen voiced concern regarding who might replace the well respected former commissioners Mark Doerr and Will Naillon, fearing the next commissioners might prove more coercive to legislative desires over sportsmen input. IWF is pleased to endorse the new commissioners, Jerry Meyers (Region 7) and Greg Cameron (Region 4). We have full faith that the new commissioners will represent the sportsman voice. We look forward to working with them.
Grizzly Rule. Senate Bill 1027 amends existing laws to provide for grizzly bear tags. The IDFG has proven their predator management acumen. The abundance of black bear, lion, and wolf existing at the same time as record elk, whitetail, and mule deer harvest not seen in over 40 years, is proof enough. Of course, grizzly hunting and management needs to be done responsibly to avoid sending the species back to the Endangered Species list. IWF agrees IDFG is ready to take the wheel.