Update: This evening, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced that he had asked for — and accepted — the resignation of Blake Fischer. “I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government,” Gov. Otter said in a press release. “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment.” We applaud Gov. Otter for this swift action, and for making it clear to Mr. Fischer, and the world, that there is no tolerance among decent people for the mindless killing of wildlife.
The first thing that struck me about Blake Fischer, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission member who gleefully posed for a “family” photo with the group of baboons he killed in Namibia, and sent it out widely via email, was his cluelessness. His actions have caused a number of former Idaho Fish and Game Commission members to question his judgment. We do too. It is difficult to imagine a man who kills an entire family group of animals (to impress his wife by his own account) and whose subsequent instinct is to share the photographic evidence with a host of friends and colleagues.
During his Namibia trip, Fischer and his wife killed at least 14 animals. In addition to the baboons, the toll included a giraffe, leopard, impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok (oryx) and eland.
A handful of onetime Idaho Fish and Game Commission members have criticized his conduct, and some are calling on Governor Butch Otter and the Idaho senate to reconsider his reappointment to the commission during its 2019 legislative session. “Sportsmanlike behavior,” one of them wrote, “is the center pin to maintaining hunting as a socially acceptable activity.”
Fischer’s timing wasn’t great, on another account. Back in July, Namibia’s Environment and Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta announced that his ministry is working to amend the nation’s conservation ordinance to prohibit, and to punish those who post, photos with dead wild animals on social media.
Taking selfies with their kills and sharing them with their friends and the public at large is one of the things trophy hunters like to do. Digital technology has dramatically altered perceptions about the propriety of image sharing, and it’s a problem for trophy hunters like Fischer who continue to do so.
Some of Fischer’s fellow trophy hunters know better what is at stake, and their reaction reflects a growing self-consciousness on the part of sportsmen and wildlife agencies alike. They have come to understand that there is a lot at risk for them in the 21st century, with more and more trophy hunters taking the view that selfies and staged kill photos are drawing unwanted attention to their misconduct. We recommend that anyone feeling outraged by this photo channel that anger into respectfully amplifying calls for more humane leaders in departments of fish and game in Idaho and around the country.
Trophy hunting organizations like Safari Club International are under increasing pressure to restrain the excesses of their members in the United States and abroad. Fischer is just the latest to shoot his way into this particular hall of shame.
“I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” Fischer said.
Yes, Blake. Just keep telling yourself that.