Photo: Wikimedia commons

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer resigned his office Monday after sending out a mass email with photos showing himself posing with animals he'd shot while visiting Africa. The office of Governor CL "Butch" Otter said in a press release that Otter had asked Fischer to step down after the photos went viral, resulting in "intense criticism." After all, sure, the Game and Fish commission is all about hunting, but one photo in particular, of Fischer posing with, as he put it, "a family of baboons" he'd shot with a "recurve bow," was pretty gruesome, with the dead animals all propped up in a family group -- including a dead baby. still bloody, posed in an adult's lap. The message from the governor is clear: Hunting is awesome, but don't be too distasteful about your love of converting animals into trophies, okay?

Otter's statement made clear that game commissioners -- Idaho has seven of 'em, and it's an unpaid position -- serve at the pleasure of the governor, and by gosh, the undignified photos and text in the email sure had Otter displeased:

"I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government," said Governor Otter. "Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner Fischer did not. Accordingly, I have accepted his resignation from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission."

In his resignation letter, Fischer admitted maybe he'd been a little too enthusiastic in his bloodlust, acknowledging,

I did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested. While these actions were out of character for me, I fully accept responsibility and feel it is best for the citizens of Idaho and sportsmen and women that I resign my post.

The photos were included in a September 19 email sent to about 100 friends and colleagues, as the Idaho Statesman reported last Friday. Fischer was very chatty and conversational in the email, which led off with the photo of the dead baboons and explained that after they arrived in Namibia, Fischer's wife wanted to see him hunt before she joined in, since it was her first trip to Africa.

"First day she wanted to watch me, and 'get a feel' of Africa," he wrote. "So I shot a whole family of baboons. I think she got the idea quick."

For a photo of a dead giraffe, its head being held up for the camera by Fischer, the mighty hunter wrote,

This photo doesn't do it justice, when we walked up on this guy, it was shocking how big it was. Look at me and the rifle compared to it. It is all I can do to hold the head up.

And then there's his vivid commentary on a dead leopard, photographed with Fischer grinning as if he were torturing a prisoner at Abu Ghraib:

The leopard is one of the big 5, as in one of the 5 animals in Africa that will kill you before you can kill it. Crazy cool animal. They are normally super nocturnal, so this was really unique.

Fischer, the Statesman reports, was pretty darn surprised at all the fuss from people who received the email or heard about it later.

He said he received a phone call from an unnamed fellow commissioner who was upset with the photos. He apologized to the commissioner for sending the photos unsolicited, but not for his hunt, he said.

"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."

He also told the paper that for most of the more impressive trophy animals he shot, he had to pay a fee to the owners of the land, but "Baboons are free [...] I get it -- they're a weird animal. It's a primate, not a deer." Man knows his dead animals, that's for sure.

The problem, of course, was that Fischer appeared to be enjoying it too much, and saying out loud in an email the stuff that's best left for quiet hunting blinds on the savanna, where no non-hunters are in earshot. Shooting a bunch of critters remains the best sport there is, and proves you're a real lover of the great outdoors -- especially the parts of it you can kill. But you gotta be tasteful about this shit around civilians, a hunting advocate explained.

Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife, a pro-hunting group based in Lewiston, said Fischer's photos were his primary concern with the email. Idaho's hunter-education manual includes a section on respecting non-hunters. The manual includes this recommendation: "Refrain from taking graphic photographs of the kill and from vividly describing the kill while within earshot of non-hunters."

"It's everything we preach against in hunters education," Alder said. "... It just sends the wrong signal.

"The biggest thing is the baboon thing. I was really troubled. 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."

Shoot them dead, of course, as long as you have a permit. But a selfie with a sociopathic grin is right out, as are excessively jokey emails about your adventures as a mighty hunter. The New York Times notes Fischer closed his email with a cheerful joke about leaving plenty of animals on the continent for others to enjoy shooting, or whatever wild animals might be good for:

"After we left all of the animals in Africa that were still alive," he wrote, "we were on a plane headed home!"

Bad judgment, bad publicity for the Gem State, and so Fischer is out of his unpaid job. Which, hey, leaves him with more time to go on safari, maybe. The governor's office announced it's seeking applications to replace Fischer, but sorry, Eric and Don Jr., you have to be an Idaho resident to qualify.

Moderator's Note: Yes, O Terrible Ones, Blake Fischer is a nasty bad person who did a morally reprehensible thing -- and worse, from the perspective of nice decent sportsmen, did it crassly. Our commenting rules remain in place, so let's not have a replay of the bloodthirsty "Let's kill and stuff HUNTERS" shit we saw after the killing of Cecil the Lion. Unlike the governor of Idaho, we don't care if you're crass, but keep your murder thoughts to yourself, please.

[Idaho Statesman / NYT / Idaho Statesman]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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