Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States, Assistant Manager
Why it Matters: Improving access and opportunity for sportsmen and women is a high priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). Through the combined work of HB 702 and SB 1422, the Idaho Legislature has expanded spending authority of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to address big game depredation claims and improve hunting and fishing access throughout the state at no additional cost to Idaho’s sportsmen and women. CSF is proud to work with Idaho Sportsmen and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in supporting creative legislative solutions to real world problems.
As Idaho’s population increases, the incidents of human-wildlife conflict increase, and big game crop damage is no exception. What used to be large tracts of native big game habitat is now checkered with privately owned, highly nutritional and desirable crop fields such as wheat and alfalfa that act as an attractant for surrounding animals, concentrating big game populations on private lands during periods of low natural forage. The need to provide financial reimbursement to farmers for big game crop depredation is critical to maintaining landowner tolerance for these animals on the landscape and subsequent hunter opportunity. To address this issue, HB 702 increased the funding allotted for big game depredation claims to $750,000. Furthermore, HB 702 limited any individual big game depredation claim to $125,000 instead of 10% of the annual appropriation, ensuring that more depredation claims could be met across the state.
Additionally, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) made two appropriations requests for increased spending authority to utilize funds already collected from sportsmen and women through the Access and Depredation hunting license endorsement, SuperHunt big game tags, and available Pittman-Robertson funds. Doing so would allow IDFG to put those funds to work improving access for Idaho’s sportsmen and women as originally intended. Those appropriation requests were fulfilled by Senate Bill 1422, a FY 2023 trailer appropriation bill which provided an additional $2,300,000 in operating expenditures, of which $1,900,000 was from the pre-collected sportsmen and women dollars and $400,000 was from federal Pittman-Robertson funds. In short, the through the combined work of HB 702 and SB 1422, the Idaho legislature freed-up over $2 million for hunting and fishing access at no additional cost to the Idaho’s outdoor sporting community.
As it stands, HB 702 has been enacted by Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Little and SB 1422 sits on his desk, awaiting signature. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is proud to have worked with Idaho Sportsmen and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in supporting creative legislative solutions to real world problems.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?