Big game tags for big landowners to auction off dies in the Idaho Senate…. not quite

Controversial bill, S1283, dies on a rare tie vote- but S1282, a similar bill, is still alive. 

There aren’t many Democrats in the Idaho state senate, but all of them joined with about 40 per cent of that body’s Republicans to kill the effort to turn the Land Owner Appreciation law (LAP) into a possible big giveaway to large landowners who are lucky to have  property  located in critical places.  They would have received extra tags in areas of controlled hunts which they could auction to the highest bidder. Unless the landowner was doing something special to improve wildlife habitat for the game in question on the property, an economist would call the income from a tag auction an unearned economic rent.

Opposition came from conservation groups and from many Idaho resident hunters and their organizations. The bill failed on a tie vote (legislative rules usually call a tie vote on a bill or an amendment a loss).

Diane Bilyeu- (D), my state senator in Pocatello, put out a press release saying she voted against the bill because “our wildlife and big game should be shared equally by all Idaho sportsmen, not just those with the most money.”

However, S1282, which does just about the same thing, is still alive.

The bill amends existing law to say:

Establish, pursuant to rule, a program to provide special incentive tags to hunt antelope, elk or deer, in designated units, to private landowners that allow hunters reasonable access, as negotiated with the department of fish and game, to their property or through their property to public lands for hunting purposes. Provided they hold a valid hunting license issued by the state of Idaho, any landowner issued such a special incentive tag may use the special incentive tag himself or herself or may sell the special incentive tag to another person who holds a valid hunting license issued by the state of Idaho at any price upon which the parties mutually agree.

It gives tags to rich landowners and lets them auction them off and keep the money.



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  1. Jeff Avatar
    I’m glad this bill was killed. The above link is about the wolves frequenting West Jackson.

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    the problem is that this will be back next year or the year after. The group(s) behind it will not just go away but will start working on the senators that voted no and truth be known if not for it being an election year it probably would have passed with out so much as whimper.

    The fact that it was even a tie vote shows that, even with across the board condemnation from IDFG, all “responsible” hunting groups and conservationist as a whole, half of the senate was out only for what they could personally gain along with the bills author.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I’ve read that one of the main reasons it didn’t pass was because the car stealing, DUI Senator John McGee was accused of sexual harassment and forced to resign that day.

  3. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    It’s my impression that these were not “extra tags” above the current landowner allocation. I believe the bill would amend the existing system to allow for tag sale in exchange for negotiated access.

    Landowner tags are counted in the overall tag numbers for each controlled hunt unit. In our units, LAP tags account for 10% of resident tags available. This doesn’t mean every large landowner gets one, as eligible landowners must apply every year, and some LAP tags are not picked up/applied for. These ones go back into the secondary draw, I believe.

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      I believe one of the big issues with this is that these tags are not limited to just the private land within the hunt unit but can be used within that whole unit.
      And if they could be sold on e-bay to the highest bidder then there would not be any unclaimed tags IMO

      1. Tom Page Avatar
        Tom Page

        Yes, you are correct that LAP tags are not limited to just the private land. This is not in itself a bad thing. In our unit, it would be extremely difficult to hunt effectively with a tag that is only eligible for the associated private land. On our ground, for instance, the elk (about 100-150 of them)feed in our alfalfa pivots and streambottoms for most of the year, but they are only there at night. They run 2000 vertical feet uphill to the forest before dawn, every day. You can sit with a spotting scope in the moonlight at 5 AM and watch this happen. And as soon as they get the slightest pressure, they move a lot farther back in than that for a whole month.

        Where the part about “the whole unit” becomes important to the creation of a secondary market is when it’s combined with the ability to transfer it to anyone, not just family members.

        However, you have to be an eligible landowner to apply for a LAP tag, which requires that you own at least 640 contiguous acres in a draw unit. If not enough landowners apply for certain tags (and in some smaller units there aren’t many landowners meeting the requirements), or they do not claim them after applying, those tags go back into the usual second draw. So there are unclaimed tags, although they are usually antlerless tags which have little secondary market value.

        As the law currently reads in Idaho, LAP tags cannot be resold. As has been explained in other posts on this issue, landowners in prime units get around this by selling a “trespass fee” to go along with the tag transfer.

  4. Ryan Avatar

    This is an interesting quandry.

    Alot of the best winter range habitat is on private gound. If the animals are given value to the landowner, this could encourage them to preserve the habitat and animals, possibly even encouraging a cut in “damage” kills which would leave more big game all users wolves included.

    On the other hand, it does raise some issues of selling public wildlife.

  5. Jeff Avatar

    Wyoming’s process is that if a hunter kills a big game animal on private land, they submit the “landowner” portion of the tag to the owner giving access. The state then compensates the land owner. I think this is a better way of ensuring equally accessible tags to the average hunter, it keeps wildlife in the public hands.

  6. AYRES Avatar

    S1282 is yet another proposed bill that departs from established wildlife policy without proper vetting from Idaho sportsmen. If you review the history of IDFG’s LAP program it will be evident that the entire program requires revamping before adding a new spin. Some infer this bill is retaliation from landowners dissatisfied with ongoing efforts to modify the program. In any event trying to pass legislation as justification to monetizes wildlife is egregiously opportunistic. And quite different than a landowner selling a trespass fee and giving away a tag. The attempt to blur the lines between a landowner selling trespass rights on private land as being the same as selling a public resources that is granted to the landowner is deceptive and misleading. Worse yet any personal gain obtained from selling a LAP tag erodes the original intent behind the program. And sets the precedence for greed.