Legislators on the House Resources and Conservation Committee introduced a bill Thursday to protect the identity of any hunter that kills a wolf in Idaho. The man who caused this bill to be brought before the Legislature thinks it is bad legislation.
The issue arose when Idaho opened up a wolf hunt after the animals were de-listed under the Endangered Species Act. Once the hunt was under way, anyone who managed to kill a wolf was required to report it to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game so it could keep an accurate tally for the quota measurement. Since kill reports were a matter of public record, they were also subject to the laws of the Freedom of Information Act which is designed to give greater access to government.
Following the hearing Thursday, IdahoReporter.com contacted Rick Hobson, the man who posted the names of the hunters on the Internet. He described the fill as “unfortunate” and not in keeping with freedom of speech and information.
Here is the full text of his response:
I think the proposed bill is unfortunate. Hunting takes place on state and federal lands which are supposedly managed for all of us, in perpetuity. In this case, what the bill does is remove the users of the public resource from public dialog.
A blanket denial of all access to these records would, in my opinion, fly in the face of the freedoms of speach and information established in this country.
Worse is the message being sent when this action is seen in the light of others the Idaho state government has recently taken. With budget cuts to both education and Idaho public television, there seems to be a "war on public information" being fomented in the legislature.
'A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both,' Pres. James Madison, August 4, 1822.