This month, on November 8 to be exact, will be 75 years since Idaho’s first successful voter initiative created the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and placed the Fish and Game Department under its authority.
Over the coming year, Fish and Game will be hitting some of the highlights of its progress since 1938, covering a different vintage subject each week.
Though Idaho Fish and Game was created by the Legislature in 1899, for the first four decades the agency was run by a state game warden – most of them political appointees. No knowledge of wildlife or game management was required to be appointed. And when new wardens took over, they often replaced the deputies, regardless of their qualifications.
Using a 1912 amendment to the Idaho constitution that allows voters to put a proposed law on the ballot and enact it by majority vote, a group of sportsmen drafted a petition based on earlier proposed legislation.
The petition called for a five-member commission of people with a demonstrated interest in wildlife and no more than three from any political party.
Commissioners would hire a fish and game director and would have the authority to determine season and bag limits. Employees would be hired on merit and could be fired only for cause.
The initiative passed with a majority in every county – 118,000 votes to 37,442 – 76 percent of the total votes cast.
Starting Friday, November 8, find Fish and Game and Idaho wildlife management history on the Fish and Game website – click on the 75 Years logo.
Logo courtesy Idaho Fish and Game Commission