An Idaho Fish and Game Commission member is being criticized by some after he shared photos of himself posing with a family of baboons, including young baboons, he killed while hunting in Africa.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter spokesman Jon Hanian told The Idaho Statesman in a story on Friday that the governor’s office is looking into the matter involving Commissioner Blake Fischer.
Fischer and his wife shot at least 14 animals in Namibia, according to the photos and descriptions included in an email he sent to more than 100 recipients. That included a giraffe, leopard, impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok (oryx) and eland.
“I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” Fischer said.
Most of the photos with the African animals are posed as standard big game hunting photos of the kind often seen in Idaho with deer, elk and mountain lions.
The photo causing some to question Fischer’s judgment and ability to remain a commission member is one of him smiling broadly with four dead baboons propped in front of him, blood visible on the abdomen of the smallest baboon. Fischer killed them using a bow and arrows.
“So I shot a whole family of baboons,” Fischer wrote below the photo in the emails he sent.
Keith Stonebraker, a former commission member, told the newspaper an apology by Fischer would satisfy him.
“They killed a whole family, including small baboons, and I think that’s revolting,” Stonebraker said. “It just puts a bad light on us.”
The commission Fischer serves on makes policy decisions concerning Idaho’s wildlife, and it often manages game populations through hunting and fishing regulations. Those regulations are intended to require ethical behavior in the pursuit of wildlife. Some of Idaho’s policies, such as on wolf and grizzly bear hunting, have been challenged in federal courts.
The commission has seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Fischer was re-appointed this year, but he needs Senate confirmation.
Former commission member Fred Trevey called on Fischer to resign.
“Sportsmanlike behavior is the center pin to maintaining hunting as a socially acceptable activity,” he wrote in an email obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.
Former commissioner Tony McDermott (2005-13) emailed a member of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s staff to say he and six other named former commissioners “agree with Fred Trevey’s approach to this potentially explosive issue.” Three of the eight former commissioners, including Trevey, were on Fischer’s email distribution list.
Of the six people named by McDermott, one told the Statesman he emailed Fischer to suggest he resign, one said a public apology would suffice, two said they hadn’t consented to having their names attached to McDermott’s email and two couldn’t be reached. McDermott didn’t respond to an interview request; he’s out hunting, Trevey said.