IDFG does not support archery bill, but commissioners choose to consider changes to allow public comment and vote

LEWISTON — Idaho Fish and Game commissioners said Thursday they don’t support a bill that would change bowhunting equipment rules, but voted nonetheless to consider passing those rules. changes in order to ward off legislation and protect their territory.

Earlier this week, Rep. Brandon Mitchell, R-Moscow, introduced a bill that would legalize lighted notches and mechanical broadheads that expand on impact. Lighted nocks would make arrows easier to find after they were fired, and mechanical broadheads would create deeper wound channels. Nocks are the back part of the arrow that goes into the bowstring. Broadheads are the metal tips used on hunting arrows.

Some hunters petitioned the commission in 2020 to license the gear, but commissioners denied the petition and it did not follow the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s rule-making process. . Thursday’s vote means the proposed change will go through this process and public comment will be sought before the commission makes a final decision.

“There is no predetermined outcome,” said Commissioner Don Ebert, from Weippe, who was appointed to the commission after the 2020 petition was rejected. “But let’s get it right, put it in the public forum and let everyone weigh in and let us do our job.”

He said decisions about hunting rules – such as what equipment can be used, the length of seasons and bag limits – are best made by the commission. The commission was established in 1938 at the initiative of a citizen and was designed to remove politics from routine gambling management decisions.

Ebert said he opposes people seeking to change the law any time they oppose the commission’s decisions, but the additional commissioners need to listen to Idaho’s hunters and anglers.

“I think the Fish and Game Commission has a bit of an obligation to respond to the issues. We have to play well together as well,” he said.

Mitchell said he plans to move forward with the legislation and voters have brought the matter to his attention. He said they felt the commission was not open to their concerns.

“It’s something people want. I am an elected official and I have voters to answer to,” he said. “(The Fish and Game Commissioners) are not elected.”

Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, said his group opposes the bill because they don’t want the legislature to make decisions about fish and game management. He noted that lawmakers passed a law last year that usurped the commission’s power to set wolf hunting and trapping seasons.

“The commission form of wildlife management may not be perfect, but it is immune to many political pitfalls,” he said.

Earnest A. Martinez