Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Idaho Cattleman's Fish and Game

We should remember a few years ago the horrible situation created by the Idaho Fish & Game. On BLM open grazing land a herd of elk were eating grasses that the local Cattleman Rancher wanted for his cows. He called up the Fish & Game and they responded immediately with a helicopter and tried to “air” herd the large herd of elk away from the area. Several elk were killed including the Alpha Bull.
You may also remember earlier this year when a Cattleman Rancher did not want a Mountain Lion on his leased forest land. The Idaho Fish & Game rushed in and killed the Lion. Then they found she had four kittens. The only solution to this new profound problem was wringing the necks of the kittens and toss them into the bushes.

That is how the Idaho Fish & Game handles the wild game. If you read my blog you already know that the ranchers, sheep or cattle, cause a lot of their own problems with the wolves, and likely do not even know it. Now, lets see how the Fish & Game handles the people of Idaho. This is just my opinion, but I would think that the fish and the game of Idaho should be available for people who do not have enough food. Did you know that 16% of Idaho's children are listed by the Federal Government as STARVING. Also on the same list 40% of Idaho's population, mostly rural families, are FOOD INSECURE. This means families run out of food money before the next paycheck, or simply on a daily basis do not know where the next meal, or next weeks meals are going to come from. One group tried to address that issue and for five years, four times a year at the meetings of the Fish & Game board, begged with details for a reduced fee license for fishing and hunting. Finally, the formal proposal was put on the agenda for the commissioners to vote on. Read on....

Keep in mind that this report is accurate as of three years ago.

On 21 January 2005 the Idaho Fish & Game Commission (F&G) considered ruling on a proposal by the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN) to establish a low income (within 185% of the Federal Poverty level) licensing system to help feed the poor and the working poor in the State of Idaho, or about 40% of the population.


In ruling against the ICAN proposal, the commission added there was sufficient roadkill and poached meat being distributed within the state, and in fact, the F&G was having difficulty in distributing it, that the regional food banks (FB) could not handle as much as was being processed. Further, the board stated that the food banks of Northern Idaho were so full of meat that they had no freezer space available. One load of meat that was destined to be delivered to Northern Idaho was refused and the meat had to be trucked all the way south to Donnelly for distribution.
The F&G then handed the ICAN representatives a list of 56 distribution centers by region wherein roadkill and poached meats were distributed.


Only 34 of the 56 sites could be verified as actually existing. Listed inclusions that could not be verified were “Various Churches,” “Several Churches,” “Several Private People,” “Churches,” “River of Life Family,” “Jesus name Tabernacle,” “Mormon Churches,” “Catholic Churches,” Subs for Santa,” and “Private Individuals.” Remember, these are the official names the F&G has for distribution locations. These were not verifiable.
Attempts were made by ICAN personnel around the state to contact churches if they still existed, and churches in general asking if the F&G meats were being delivered. The ICAN members contact lists, forged from phone book yellow pages, totaled 423 churches across the state. When asked about the meats from the F&G, only one answer was consistent, and that answer was “NO.”


Not all food banks in Idaho are developed the same. In fact, many in the state would be more properly termed “food pantries” and have no freezers and many with no routine clients or routine operating hours. These factors make it impossible to accept meats, and if accepted from the F&G have no true method for distribution. Many of the pantries reported that they distribute dry and canned foods only and on a case by case basis, or “walk-ins” only. So these locations, besides not able to handle F&G meats, also report they have never seen F&G meats. When you remove the Dry Goods Pantries that work a case-by-case basis, you are left with only 21 locations from the F&G list that have some freezer space and some routine clients.


That last paragraph identified the remaining 21 locations that had the capacity and the infrastructure to accommodate donated meats from the Idaho Fish & Game. However, there still remained the question, “Do you or have you ever received meats from the Fish & Game?” As you can see, 5 organizations reported that they routinely receive the wild game meat. Routinely, without exception was defined as 3 or 4 times a year. These locations were Region (2) Lewiston FB; Region (3) Cascade WICAP, Boise County Sheriffs Office; Region (5) SEICCA; and Region (7) Idaho Falls FB.


As these final 5 were located, one more question remained, “Would you share the wild game meat with other than your listed clients?” Only 2 answered yes, if they had enough, and indicating in both locations that there was never enough. These 2 locations were SEICCA and Idaho Falls FB.
So, with ICAN showing the Fish & Game that 40% of the people in Idaho were officially listed as either FOOD INSECURE or in the STARVING category, the F&G ruled against affordable licensing in favor of all that meat being distributed, which was a total lie. The F&G obviously does not care about the people of the state, just the money.

Discovery Process: Using the internet and such search engines as Google to find locations, phone numbers, and in some cases the proper identification of food banks listed by the F&G, only 34 could be verified as existing. But that was not all the resources available. ICAN at that time posted a membership of 3,000 families across the state using phone books and contacting county information. All the information was accumulated by me and using a cell phone, a total of 247 minutes was logged to verify the information. Also, in some areas when no one answered the phones, members of the Idaho Community Action Network were called to make onsite reviews and locate contact information. For instance, a member named Darvin made local calls to see who was the current caretaker for the Troy FB, and returned the information of the managers name. The FB was pantry only with no freezer and due to lack of funds or food, was used rarely through the year. The Troy FB listed by the F&G had actually changed their name five years earlier to the Sojourner Alliance. In the case of “Churches” listed by the F&G, every church in every region of the state found was contacted. None contacted could be verified as being part of the Fish and Game Distribution.

Some of the stories encountered: In their ruling the F&G specifically stated that the foodbanks of Northern Idaho reported that “they were so full of meat that they had no freezer space left.” A few years ago the northern food banks reorganized into the Community Action Partnership of Northern Idaho. Smaller food banks were centralized into regional outlets and as a partnership, assist each other in times of stress. Each has a specific client list and walk-ins are screened for “need” and added to the list. Connie at the Lewiston Food Bank said that they could not share the wild game when it came in.They service 400 clients and distribute food once every three months. When I mentioned roadkill, Connie said that the Fish & Game could no longer process roadkill because they were taken to court two years prior when people got sick. Connie was very clear that the wild game was distributed only to the Lewiston clients and there was never enough to go around.

Another branch of the Community Action Partnership of Northern Idaho, the Grangeville Food Bank was also relayed the F&G story about too much meat. Mike Flynn's first remark was “It would be great if they did.” In continuing conversation he said that early last year he saw some meat marked “wild game” in the freezer, but only a little. He did relay an interesting story. He said, “Last Christmas the Fish & Game called and said they had some meat for us and we could pick it up at Western (Western Meats, Inc., Grangeville) and when we went to get it, the meat was gone. The manager at Western said that the Fish and Game officer came back in as soon as it was wrapped and took it with him. The Food Bank got nothing.”

At the Cottonwood Food Bank, Sister Barbara Jean said they had some freezer space, seldom holding any meat, and in the three years she had been there, there was never any meat from the Fish & Game as listed by the F&G. The St. Mary's Hospital runs the Food Bank. She also begged me to try and get some meat because they had a lot of hungry people.

At the McCall Health and Welfare, no one knew for sure if wild game actually had been delivered but if it was it may have been given to just anyone standing nearby since no one would know what to do with it.. That conversation seemed to include a lot of fuzzy logic.

Freda Gilbert at the Payette Lakes Food Bank and Robert Hall at the Donnelly Food Bank work eleven miles apart but are in constant contact with each other. When I relayed the F&G story about too much meat in the North and it had to be taken all the way to Donnelly to unload, Freda said “No Way!” and Robert Hall said, “Not only NO, but hell no.” Robert has been begging the Fish & Game for the whole six years he had been there and said that now they hang up on him and refuse to give him any forms. He said he was told several times in the last few years that he could not have any of the wild game.

End of report.

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