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Idaho Approves Hunter Identity Bill

House members voted 55-14 to protect the identity of hunters in Idaho.

3/10/2010


Last September, for the first time in state history, Idaho opened a wolf-hunting season. The hunt was widely reported on and publicized by those both in favor of and against it.


Following the hunt, wolf advocate Rick Hobson filed a public records request to get the names of 122 wolf hunters who reported kills to the Idaho Fish and Game Department, and posted the information online.


In response to the controversy sparked by Hobson's use of those public records to reveal the hunters' names, the Idaho House approved a bill to protect the identities of those who purchase hunting licenses.


Dustin Hurst of the Idaho Reporter writes:


The Idaho House approved a measure which would protect the identity of anyone who purchases any type of hunting license from the state of Idaho. The vote among House members was 55-14 to approve the measure, which now heads to the Senate.


The bill is the product of Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who, in the committee hearing on the bill, said that she believes “that one of the reasons for government is to protect its citizens, and I feel that’s what this bill will do.” The legislation provides that all licenses issued by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act,  a piece of legislation designed to give the public greater access to government records and documents. Boyle noted that not only deer, elk, and wolf tags would be protected, but wolf-kill permits, typically issued to farmers and ranchers as a herd-protection measure, would also fall under the exemption.


Boyle said that on the second day of the wolf hunt in Idaho in 2009, she received a call from a concerned wolf hunter who was the subject of harassment from wolf advocates. The man who contacted Boyle had purchased a license from the state, killed a wolf, and subsequently had his personal information posted online by Rick Hobson. On the House floor, Boyle read from a website posted by that constituent, which lists harassing e-mails received after his information was posted online by a wolf advocate...


Anonymity on the Internet prevents effective enforcement of anti-harassment laws, said Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls. Simpson argued that the only manner in which Idaho can protect hunters is exempting their names from public records requests.


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