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As the Idaho Legislature concludes its third full week, administrative rules continue to dominate the conversation. While they wrap up their work on rules, we’re starting to see some new legislation introduced, including some that leaves us scratching our heads.

Good News for Poachers

In the House Resources and Conservation Committee, Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) introduced three bills for consideration that dealt with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The most troubling is one that would require only licensed hunters or anglers to stop at check stations. As former IDFG Commissioner Rep. Wood (R-Burley) pointed out, this means that poachers would be under no obligation to stop and could keep on driving.

Bad News for Poachers

On the same day that Rep. Scott’s bill was heard, the Senate Resources and Environment Committee heard a proposal from Sen. Marv Hagedorn (R-Meridian) that would boost fines for poaching. Current law sets the penalty at only $750 for poaching an elk. As Sen. Hagedorn pointed out, these penalties haven’t been updated for more than 20 years. The new proposal would boost the fine to $1,000 for elk, $2,600 for caribou or bighorn sheep, and $700 for other big game species. While a step in the right direction, considering that hunters pay more than $100,000 for a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime bighorn sheep hunt, a $2,600 fine seems like a comparative bargain!

Respect for Rule of Law Resolution

While the leaders of the illegal occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge may have been captured or tragically killed this week, the potential for the occupation to drag on inspired one legislator to take action. Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) introduced a resolution calling on his colleagues in the House to support the rule of law and to condemn the actions associated with the illegal occupation of Oregon’s Malheur  National  Wildlife Refuge.

Fish Rules Await House Action

One of the key issues that ICL is tracking this year deals with a proposal from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to loosen protections for water quality. As you can imagine, we oppose the rule change. While the rule has been approved by the Senate, the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee is scheduled to consider the rule next Tuesday, Feb 2. You can be sure that we’ll be there to testify, as your voice for conservation…we wouldn’t miss it!

Tie of the Week!

The TOTW this week is a nod toward why we do the work we do. It was a gift from my daughter.

While I may be your voice for conservation in the Idaho Statehouse and you may pay my salary, the real reason I hustle to the statehouse each day is to ensure that our kids and grandkids can be proud of the legacy we’ve left them. Preserving Idaho for today isn’t enough.

Until next week. Esto perpetua…