Idaho Fish and Game commissioner criticized for photos from African hunting trip

Idaho's Fish and Game commissioner is facing backlash after he shared photographs of him smiling with a “whole family of baboons” he killed during a hunting trip to Africa.

Blake Fischer is facing some calls to resign after he shared photos of his African hunting trip with more than 100 friends and colleagues, The Idaho Statesman reported on Friday.

Fischer and his wife shot at least 14 animals in Namibia, according to the photos he sent in an email obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.

He reportedly shot a giraffe, leopard, impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok (oryx) and eland.

He also killed a family of baboons, something Fischer bragged about in his email.

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He sent a photo of himself smiling with the baboons, saying his wife wanted to watch him hunt since it was her first African trip.

“I think she got the idea quick,” Fischer wrote, according to the report.

Fred Trevey, who was a Fish and Game commissioner from 2007 to 2015, asked Fischer to resign, the newspaper reported.

He wrote in an email that he hoped a resignation would "shield the commission as an institution and hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife management from the harm that is sure to come.”

“I’m sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right,” Trevey wrote in the email obtained by the Idaho Statesman through a public records request. “Sportsmanlike behavior is the center pin to maintaining hunting as a socially acceptable activity.”

Trevey wrote that it “dismays and disappoints me” that Fischer would include the photos of the baboons in his email.

“I have a difficult time understanding how a person privileged to be an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner can view such an action as sportsmanlike and an example to others,” he wrote.

A section of the Idaho hunter education manual includes a section on respecting nonhunters.

“Refrain from taking graphic photographs of the kill and from vividly describing the kill while within earshot of non-hunters,” the manual says, according to the newspaper.

As many as seven other commissioners have reportedly signed onto an email to Gov. Butch Otter’s (R) office saying they agree with Trevey’s approach.

Steve Adler of Idaho for Wildlife, a pro-hunting group, told the newspaper that Fischer’s photos send the “wrong signal.”

“The biggest thing is the baboon thing. I was really troubled,” Alder said. “That’s my biggest issue. He killed the whole baboon family and you’ve got little junior laying there in mom’s lap. You just don’t do that.”

“I hate wolves as much as anyone, but I’m not going to take a wolf family and put it on display and show the baby wolf,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to Idaho Fish and Game for comment.

“Fish and Game commissioners are appointed by the governor and are not employees of the department,” spokesman Roger Phillips said in a statement to the Statesman. 

A spokesperson for Otter said that he is aware of Fischer’s email and has heard a complaint from at least one constituent.

“It’s fair to say the governor is concerned about it,” Jon Hanian said told the newspaper. “He is aware of it and did look at the pictures and we’re looking into it.”

Despite the backlash, Fischer told the newspaper that he would not apologize for the hunt. 

“I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” Fischer said. “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 said he was given a list of species he could hunt while in Namibia and paid trophy fees for certain animals.

“Baboons are free,” he told the Statesman. “I get it — they’re a weird animal. It’s a primate, not a deer.”

He said he was raised in a “very ethical hunting family.”

“In every picture, we try to pose the animals in a natural position, wipe the blood off the mouth, place the rifle or bow over the bullet hole. ... These are normal hunting photos,” he told the newspaper. “You shoot an animal, you take a picture of it.”