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The Game Trail

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Tony McDermott. Photo Idaho Fish & Game Tony McDermott. Photo Idaho Fish & Game

What is the Fish and Game Commission?

I was struggling the other day to come up with a topic for this column as my limited brain space was occupied by mounting cases, and the thought of taking time to sit at the computer didn’t help the situation. A conversation with a sportsman about the Idaho Fish and Game Commission generated a good topic for this column. Through this conversation I realized most Idaho citizens and some sportsmen probably don’t know what role the commission plays or why they were created.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission was created by public initiative in 1938. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor (no more than four of the seven may be from the same political party) for staggered four-year terms, and each commissioner is confirmed by the Idaho State Senate. In 1996, the Senate approved adding a seventh district to the existing six to meet the needs of Idaho’s regions. The seven commissioners, each representing a different region of the state, are responsible for administering the fish and game policy of the state as described in state code section 36-103:

(a) Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.

To be appointed, commissioners must be a bona fide resident of the region from which they are appointed, and be well informed and interested in wildlife conservation and restoration. During their terms, commissioners may not hold any other elective or appointive office. Our Commissioner, representing the Panhandle Region from the St. Joe to Bonner’s Ferry is Tony McDermott of Sagle.

By law, commissioners must meet in January, April, July and October of each year. In recent years the complexity of wildlife and fisheries management has made it necessary to hold special sessions in addition to the quarterly meetings.

Major duties and responsibilities of the commission are to supervise the Department of Fish and Game; establish regulations and other needed controls on fishing, hunting, trapping and management of wildlife in line with the state’s wildlife policy; approve department budgets for submission to the legislature; and hold public hearings and make decisions on the management of the state’s wildlife.

The present Commission has done an outstanding job completing the above tasks with a true concern for the people and wildlife of Idaho. So much so, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies presented our commission with the “Commission of the Year” award, one of the most prestigious awards given in the wildlife field.

These seven folks who make up our IDFG commission do so on their own time, with no compensation of any kind. They make difficult decisions amid a tumultuous mix of politics and biology, not an easy task. So please take the time to thank them.

With hunting seasons coming to end, I would like to remind all successful hunters to properly dispose of their animal carcasses. It’s an extremely busy time for your local conservation officers, but much of our limited and valuable time continues to be wasted by inconsiderate hunters. 

Dumping fleshed out game carcasses is not only illegal (littering), it is also inconsiderate of nearby residents and reflects poorly on all hunters. The practice also distracts already short-handed conservation officers from real poaching cases.

Please properly dispose of your carcass by taking it to the transfer station, or dispose of it the woods away from roads, private property, and waterways.

Just a reminder to get those 2010 hunting and fishing licenses, especially those folks who intend to ice fish, waterfowl hunt, or wolf hunt. The IDFG commissioners have extended the wolf season in the Panhandle zone until March 31, 2010. Hunters will need to purchase a 2010 license and wolf tag after the New Year.

On behalf of the Sandpoint District Conservation Officers, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and prosperous New Year.

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

Tagged as:

wildlife, Fish and Game Commission, Tony McDermott, policy

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