House committee gives OK to plan protecting hunters' identity

House committee gives OK to plan protecting hunters' identity

by
Dustin Hurst
February 24, 2010
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
February 24, 2010

Hunters who received harassing phone calls or emails after shooting wolves during hunting season in 2009 could see an end to those actions very soon.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee voted to accept a bill that would protect the identity of all hunters in Idaho, not just those killing wolves.  The bill is the product of Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who said she believes "that one of the reasons for government is to protect its citizens, and I feel that’s what this bill will do."  The legislation provides that all licenses issued by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, which is designed to give the public greater access to government records and documents.  Boyle noted that not only deer, elk, and wolf tags would be protect, but wolf-kill permits, typically issued to farmers and ranchers as a herd-protection measure, would also fall under the exemption.

Jeremy Pisca, a lobbyist representing the Idaho Allied Daily Newspapers, said the bill goes too far in the protection of hunters and would hamper news writers' efforts to verify facts for certain stories.

"It's like going after a gnat with a sledgehammer," said Pisca.

The measure also contains provisions that prevent harassment of hunters, which would become punishable to up to six months in prison and a $1,500 fine.

The bill was passed by the committee and will be sent to amending order in the full House for some minor language clarification.

In the House, the hunter privacy plan is co-sponsored by Reps. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, and Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls.  On the Senate side, Sen. Robert Geddes, R-Soda Springs, and Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, support the measure.

(Note: The man who sparked the controversy, Rick Hobson, told IdahoReporter.com that he feels the bill "would ... fly in the face of the freedoms of speech. Read his full statement here.)

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