End the exemption

Editorial from the Idaho Falls Post Register

The logic was indisputable. An Idaho wolf hunter received a nasty e-mail from someone who doesn’t like wolf hunting. Therefore, the more
astute members of the Idaho Legislature reasoned, the names of every
single person attaining any kind of Idaho hunting or fishing license,
tag or permit had to be added to the list of state secrets.

Never mind that Idaho’s animals and the places they call home are
public property.

Never mind that preventing reporters from checking hunting records
ensures that every would-be Idaho politician from now through forever
will market himself as the second coming of Daniel Boone.

Never mind that this information has historically been public record
and that not one instance of demonstrable harm can be attributed to
that fact.

Lawmakers thought this change needed to be made, and so it was during
the 2010 legislative session. Environmentalists, who unlike hunters
generally aren’t packing heat, apparently presented a serious threat
to the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of those who
simply must hang a wolf pelt on the wall.

We disagreed with this exemption when it was introduced during the
session. We disagreed with the vote to approve it. We disagreed when
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter — he of the vow to claim the first wolf tag
— signed it into law.

But we have always admired the intellectual honesty of Idaho’s ruling
party, and so we’re confident that the first order of business during
the 2011 legislative session will be to remove this new exemption from
Idaho’s public records law.

Why? Because Idahoans no longer hunt wolves.

A federal judge recently struck down Idaho’s wolf hunt, and with Otter
ceding wolf management to the federal government, the state’s hunters
are out of luck.

From that one, simple, indisputable fact, we draw a couple of
conclusions: No wolf hunt, no reason for an exemption. No wolf hunt,
no threat from environmentalists.

Unless, of course, the Idaho Legislature, whose members say all the
right things about ensuring an open, transparent government, were
pining to do this all along.

Perhaps the thinking went like this: The debate over wolves is
passionate. There was that one e-mail. We don’t like the tree huggers
and it’s no fun having some pesky reporter checking out my claim of
bagging an eight-point buck in the Frank Church River of No Return
Wilderness. What the heck? Let’s pass an exemption.

But that’s the cynical view and we’d never allow ourselves that
luxury. This exemption was a bad idea from the start. It was never
necessary and has already been made obsolete. The only sensible thing
is to repeal it. We have no doubt that our elected officials will be
with us on this one come January.

– Corey Taule

Editorial from the Idaho Falls Post Register

Not an IDOG member yet?