An Idaho state official resigned Tuesday after colleagues blasted him for sharing “disturbing” photos from a hunting trip in Africa he took just last month.
Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer said in a letter to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter he “made some poor judgments” when he emailed images of a family of baboons he killed with a recurve bow to current and former state officials, prompting an unexpected backlash.
“I recently made some poor judgments that resulted in sharing photos of a hunt in which I did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested,” he wrote, according to Reuters. He concluded by apologizing for the controversy, saying “my actions will not harm the integrity and ethic of the state’s wildlife agency.”
Otter appointed Fischer for his second four-year term in June, according to reports. A search for his replacement began immediately.
“I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government,” Otter said. “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner Fischer did not. Accordingly, I have accepted his resignation from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.”
The photos of Fischer’s hunting trip became public after the Idaho Statesman received the communications via a public information request through the governor’s office.
Fred Trevey, a former commissioner who last served in 2015, received the photos and advised Fischer to resign “to shield the commission as an institution and hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife management from the harm that is sure to come,” according to the newspaper.
“I’m sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right,” Trevey said. “… Sportsmanlike behavior is the center pin to maintaining hunting as a socially acceptable activity.” Former commissioner Tony McDermott told Otter he and six other colleagues agreed with Trevey.
“I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” Fischer told the Idaho Statesman. “… I look at the way Idaho’s Fish and Game statute says we’re supposed to manage all animals for Idaho, and any surplus of animals we have we manage through hunting, fishing and trapping. Africa does the same thing.”
Fischer and his wife shot more than a dozen species in Africa, according to the emails, including a giraffe, leopard, impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok (oryx) and eland. He maintains he paid fees for some of his kills, but the “baboons were free.”
Not everyone agrees with Fischer’s resignation, however. Former commissioner Will Naillon described Fischer as “an ethical hunter” while Keith Stonebraker, who last served in 1987, said a public apology would suffice.
“They killed a whole family, including small baboons, and I think that’s revolting,” he said. “… It just puts a bad light on us.”