IDFG Looks To Sabotage The North American Model for Wildlife Management
Wildlife Conservation Impact
Editorial News/Press Release
January 1, 2013
The Idaho "Wildlife Summit" Avalanche!
This past August, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game violated its state legislated mission, stepped across the line of professional wildlife management ethics, and delivered the sportsmen of the state one heck of a sucker punch. This state game and fish agency, which was founded in 1938, has very successfully operated under what has become known as the North American Model for Wildlife Management, bringing big game populations and other wildlife numbers from the record lows of the early 1900's to record highs - until about 10 years ago. That's when the sportsmen of the state began to realize that IDFG was beginning to march to the beat of a different drum.
(Photo Above - In the "Good Ol' Days"...before USFWS dumped wolves into the Northern Rockies and before state wildlife agencies like the Idaho Department of Fish and Game lost all concept of wildlife management, and turned on the sportsmen who paid the way for wildlife conservation.)
The North American Model for Wildlife Management has been a sportsmen-based model for wildlife management and conservation across the country - relying on hunters and anglers funding state game and fish agencies through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and permits. The model also relies on these same sportsmen to balance wildlife populations with available habitat and forage, through hunting and fishing.
Now, IDFG is looking to steer away from that model, and take a whole new direction - away from its official purpose and mission, which has been, "IDFG will manage wildlife for future populations of wildlife, for the purpose of fishing, hunting , and trapping."
To better define the scope of this new direction, the agency conducted its so-
called "Wildlife Summit" August 24 thru 26, 2012 in Boise and thru six televised satellite locations around the state. What concerns Idaho hunters and anglers most, is the manner in which the summit was organized...who made the presentations...and especially the manner in which "participant" input was manipulated to achieve the pre-determined answers, comments and conclusions. Most of all, what has angered the state's sportsmen more than anything was the manner in which anti-hunting groups were allowed to consult in the planning of the "Wildlife Summit", and invited to attend the three-day event.
The goal of IDFG is to break away from serving the sportsmen of the state, and to become all things to all people in regards to all wildlife. Likewise, they want the agency to become funded by all citizens of the state, not just those who hunt or fish.
It's all about the money - something that IDFG has managed even more poorly than the wildlife of the state.
(Photo at Right - Rallies to protest against IDFG and poor wildlife management have drawn much larger crowds in the state than those rallies in favor of allowing anti-hunting groups to have more say-so in the state's wildlife management. As the agency moves to head in that direction...things are sure to explode.)
While IDFG continues to claim that big game herds, overall, are still above "objective", the sportsmen of the state say otherwise. In many elk hunting units, seasons have been shortened, a much smaller number placed on permits issued, and where cow hunting was once allowed, it's now "Bull Only". It has been the dramatic loss of hunting permit sales which has strapped the agency financially - and IDFG fully realizes that with ever dwindling big game numbers, permit sales will continue to bring in less revenue in the future.
The new wave wildlife managers and biologists now working within the agency blame the loss of game in "some areas" to a variety of factors...including a hard winter more than a decade ago, global warming, and a large populations of mountain lions. Idaho's big game hunters realize these are probable factors, but the problem they recognize as the leading cause of the decline in the number of elk, moose, deer and other big game has been the widespread depredation caused by a much larger wolf population than what IDFG admits. Ever since the release of non-native Canadian wolves into the Northern Rockies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, beginning in 1995, big game populations have been in a continual downward spiral. With as many as 1,500 to 1,800 wolves in the state, each accounting for the loss of approximately 50 big game animals yearly, and still growing populations of mountain lions, black bears and grizzlies, hunters know things are not about to turn around until upwards of 70-percent of these major predators are eliminated.
Now, IDFG is looking to many of the same organizations and groups which have vehemently fought predator control, in court and on the ground, to help fund the agency - and to have more input with wildlife management in this state.
Following the conclusion of the summit, newly elected IDFG Commission Chairman Randy Budge commented, "The Wildlife Summit provided wildlife advocates a unique opportunity to hear from top wildlife authorities and to help set the stage for the future of wildlife management in Idaho."
Sportsman provided funding was used in part to organize and conduct this summit, with the goal of stabbing those same sportsmen in the back. That is a violation of IDFG operating procedures. But, that's nothing new, IDFG has been misusing sportsman dollars for years, to fund or help fund non-hunting and non-fishing related conservation efforts.
(Photo Above - The majority of those attending the "Wildlife Summit" at one of the six televised satellite locations were sportsmen who went to witness how IDFG was selling the public a real railroad job.)
In 2004, IDFG established, "The Department's main funding source comes from one segment of the population - hunters and anglers - primarily through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. This money has been - and will continue to be - used to manage fish and wildlife for hunting and fishing. The Department will not use hunting and fishing license fees to meet all the desires of the public, other agencies and local governments for managing fish, wildlife and native plants."
The agency has violated that mandate many times, annually spending millions of sportsman provided dollars on wildflowers, wildlife viewing areas, other non-hunting or non-
fishing programs - and now a "Wildlife Summit". Former IDFG Director Cal Groen was one of the few in the agency who openly acknowledged the impact that non-game "preservation and prevention" efforts were having on the department, and how it had resulted in less IDFG law enforcement and less fish stocking. He felt that IDFG needed to do more to protect the money received from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to insure they were spent for hunting and fishing. That's a priority that current Director Virgil Moore and the present IDFG Commission seem to ignore.
One public comment made during the "Wildlife Summit" was, "I would prefer to see the Department work more closely with sportsmen oriented NGO's to develop ways to counter shifts in Idaho culture and ensure that Idaho remains the Idaho we all love and enjoy. There is definitely a problem, but non-consumptive users can contribute to wildlife conservation without requiring any significant changes. IDFG needs to do more to overcome biases which currently exist within the educational system. Youth need to be actively recruited into hunting, fishing and trapping programs."
The Idaho "Wildlife Summit" was a stacked deck from the very first planning stages - which was conducted behind closed doors, with the sportsmen of the state locked out. IDFG was on a mission to stray from the mission that had been already handed to it by Idaho voters and the state's legislature, and they were not about to let anything, anyone or any pro North American Model for Wildlife Management group get in their way to stop the dumping of their, by law, commitment to hunters and anglers, or to stop them from climbing into bed with an agenda that has been extremely anti-hunting, or for that matter, anti-anything that involves the consumptive use of natural resources.
The appointment of Michelle Beucler, IDFG's "Human Dimensions Specialist", as the Wildlife Summit Project Manager, should have thrown up red flags to any and all honest and true to their profession wildlife managers - unless they had been directed from the top to keep their mouths shut. At the "top" of the IDFG chain of command is Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. Beucler is typical of new wave wildlife management staffers, and has been known to openly criticize the agency's mission, passed by the state legislature, to provide continued supplies of wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping. She claims the policy has destroyed non-game species, has damaged ecosystems, and has undermined Idaho's Public Trust Doctrine. Yet, the State of Idaho continues to pay her salary out of the funds provided by the very sportsmen she apparently abhors.
(Photo Above Right - IDFG Director Virgil Moore appointed the Department's "Human Dimension Specialist" Michelle Beucler as the Wildlife Summit Project Manager. The Idaho sportsmen who she seems to abhor consider her a bonafide fruit cake...and typical of today's IDFG management staff.)
As for the recruitment of new hunting and fishing sportsmen from the state's youth, or pretty much from any age group, Beucler has commented, "We think that some degree of recruiting citizens is good business. However, we also feel that it has become misdirected and overemphasized. As a result, recruitment and retention effort may be ineffective and may be distracting state wildlife agencies from engaging non-hunters and broadening wildlife conservation."
Apparently, by using the plural "we" Beucler is stating IDFG's new agenda, new mission. One thing was extremely evident, as Project Manager, she avoided bringing in any speakers representing any major sportsmen groups or organizations. Those who made presentations at the summit are on the same page with Beucler, who authored an article for the Spring 2010 issue of Management Tracks, titled "The Death of Wildlife Management". In the article, she literally attacks wildlife management practices which have provided hunting opportunities for sportsmen across the United States for the past 75 or more years.
Many of the sportsmen attending the "Wildlife Summit" in Boise, or at one of the televised six satellite locations, said it was easy to see through the ruse, that IDFG had already determined the "results" or the "conclusion" to the summit. All of the "expert" presentations were geared toward opening the door for non-hunting, non-fishing groups/organizations having more say so in Idaho's wildlife management, and for the non-hunting and non-fishing public to step in and be "taxed" to financially support the agency, greatly lessening the importance of those who have financed IDFG since 1938.
IDFG has referred to the numerous round table discussion format of the summit as the "Cafe' Style", naming those periods the "Idaho Cafe'". Throughout the three-day summit, 70 questions were presented to the "participants", then they would break up into groups of four to discuss those "Fish" and "Game" oriented questions. Within the audience at the Boise based "Wildlife Summit" were plants who responded to comments made during the presentation - to support the pre-determined direction they wanted the audience to respond. Then, within many of the four-member discussions on the question topics was also a summit plant, to steer "participant" thoughts more and more in favor of the answers sought. Each time the "participants" broke up into the discussion groups, they were shuffled - to prevent any alliances being made among those being manipulated.
This well orchestrated and direction driven technique of manipulating "public input" is known as the Delphi Technique, and it has been successfully used to steer public thought in favor of a direction or conclusion that has already been decided. It is commonly used to manipulate public consensus of political issues.
The published 56-page follow up Wildlife Summit Report is a collaborated collection of contrived participant comments, thoughts and conclusions, which are about as useful as already used toilet paper. Throughout "their findings" from the three-day summit, three of their goals are repeatedly addressed as comments and conclusions - the need for more funding from other than hunters and anglers; the need to welcome non-hunting and non-fishing conservation groups with open arms; and the need to modify the North American Model for Wildlife Management. This is exactly what IDFG looked to achieve with their so-called "Wildlife Summit".
From the Executive Director of one sportsman-based organization, LOBO WATCH has learned that a business group known as Southwick & Associates, of Florida, played a significant role in orchestrating the summit, compiling the questions, monitoring the comments, and publishing the results. That same group has conducted such summits in other states, and last summer approached the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to conduct a similar "fact finding" summit. But, do these manipulated summits really establish anything, other than the game departments which sportsmen have fully funded for decades now want to break away from the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation, which has worked so well for decades.
If you think the word "manipulation" is a bit strong for describing how these summits are conducted, here's a sentence right from the Southwick & Associates website, "Our proprietary process allows us to adjust data collected online and adjust it to reflect all hunters, shooters and anglers."
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is listed as one of their clients, and so is the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. To many who live in the Northern Rockies, this better explains why these two agencies, in regard to the wolf issue, are now better known for lies and deceit than honest wildlife management. It's interesting to see that both the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are also listed as Southwick clients. These two organizations are largely responsible for making state "Game" and "Fish" departments responsible for the conservation of non-game species, which annually steals hundreds of millions of dollars from the revenue generated by the sales of hunting and fishing licenses in this country.
(Photo Above Right - This is a photo of just one of many exhibit halls that make up the 600,000+ square feet of the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. Sportsmen would be amazed at how many members of the industry are working with the same group which coordinated IDFG's attack on the North American Model for Wildlife Management.)
The American sportsman would be amazed at many who are also listed as clients of this manipulative poll service. Take time to Google Southwick & Associates, and take a look at the list of clients. On it you will find many of the companies which manufacture hunting arms, ammunition, and other outdoor equipment. You'll also find a number of sportsmen organizations and state game departments. Even the National Shooting Sports Foundation is one of their clients, which could explain why this organization has done close to nothing to really fight the loss of hunting opportunities, or the radical anti-hunting environmental groups which vehemently oppose the harvesting of wildlife. Some are the same groups which IDFG now wants to climb in bed with, forsaking those who have been there to support them along the way.
These are indeed dark days for wildlife management and conservation in America. The hunters and anglers who have footed the bill for the past 75 to 100 years to save big game herds and fishable waters are now being shoved out of the way in order to make room for a new agenda. Will they allow it to happen...or is it already too late to save hunting and fishing in this country? - Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH