A Fish and Game commissioner in Idaho who came under fire for circulating images of he and his wife posing with dead animals during a hunt in Africa resigned on Monday, saying he had made “poor judgements.”
In a letter to Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, the commissioner, Blake Fischer, said those judgments “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.”
While claiming the photos were out of character, Fischer apologized and said he hoped the photos would “not harm the integrity and ethic” of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
Fischer was criticized by former commissioners for sending the photos to them and others in a Sept. 17 email. In the note, which was obtained through a public records request, Fischer said the hunt occurred after he and his wife traveled to Namibia for a couple of weeks — a trip that was his third to Africa and her first.
“First day she wanted to watch me, and ‘get a feel’ of Africa,” he wrote. “So I shot a whole family of baboons. I think she got the idea quick.”
The images showed Fischer and his wife smiling above the bodies of various animals, including several monkeys.
One of the recipients of Fischer’s note, former commissioner Fred Trevey, responded on Oct. 5, saying the email “dismays and disappoints me.”
Trevey cited the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s hunter education manual, which he said “clearly instructs our youth to have consideration for and respect the opinions of non-hunters,” and to “refrain from taking photos of the kill and from vividly describing the kill within earshot of non-hunters.”
“I’m sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right,” Trevey wrote.
Trevey encouraged Fischer to resign and “shield the Commission as an institution and hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife management from the harm that is sure to come.”
In an interview with NBC News, another former commissioner, Keith Stonebraker, said he found the email “nauseating” and said the images “flew in the face” of the ethical hunting standards that commissioners seek to uphold.
“It would be the same as going out and killing fawns,” he said, adding: “I thought, ‘Why in the world would anybody want to kill a family of baboons?’ It just made no sense at all.”
Such images could stoke what Stonebrake called a “mini crisis” — a dearth of interest among younger generations of would-be hunters and a decline in the number of licenses sold to them by fish and game departments.
“This simply accelerates that problem,” he said.
Fischer, whose appointment was set to expire in 2022, also runs an agricultural and irrigation supply company in Boise and manufactures specialty archery equipment, according to his commission profile.