Blake Fischer, an Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner, has come under fire for a picture of him smiling and posing with what looks to be three adults and baby baboon on a recent hunting trip.
The image was included in an email obtained by The Idaho Statesman newspaper through a public documents request with the governor’s office.
In the photo, Mr Fischer is holding up the baboons while he kneels in the dirt, a quiver of arrows can be seen in the foreground.
The email also detailed at least 14 other animals Mr Fischer and his wife had killed on his trip, including a leopard and giraffe.
Other animals they killed include impala, sable antelope, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, gemsbok, and eland per the email sent to more than 100 people.
Mr Fischer said that he believes he “didn’t do anything illegal".
"I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” he said.
He is one of seven volunteer commissioners appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate to represent different parts of the state.
According to the Fish and Game Commission, these seven officials must adhere to the statute that “All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho...shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping”.
On the email were also several former Fish and Game Commissioners.
“I have a difficult time understanding how a person privileged to be an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner can view such an action as sportsmanlike and an example to others,” Fred Trevey, who was a Fish and Game commissioner from 2007 to 2015, said.
He wrote to Mr Fischer asking him to resign.
Tony McDermott, another former commissioner also on the email, wrote to Governor Butch Otter’s office to say he and six of commissioner colleagues agreed that to resolve the “potentially explosive issue” Mr Fischer must resign from his post.
Mr Fischer interpreted the statue as saying: “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.”
When asked why he shot the baboons, Mr Fischer explained to the newspaper he was required to pay trophy fees for other animals he killed in Namibia.
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“Baboons are free... I get it — they’re a weird animal. It’s a primate, not a deer,” he said.
“In every picture, we try to pose the animals in a natural position, wipe the blood off the mouth, place the rifle or bow over the bullet hole. ... These are normal hunting photos. You shoot an animal, you take a picture of it,” Mr Fischer said.
He does not have plans to resign but the governor’s office has been made aware of the viral picture and the controversy it has caused.
Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife, a pro-hunting group in the state, told the newspaper about the baboon photo: “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.”