There are thousands of big game animals wearing trackable GPS collars across the West. Those collars help biologists study mobility and survivability. According to a former Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) biologist, some hunters have taken to filing public records requests for collar information. That means they’ll know exactly where and when a herd hangs out without having to hunt for it. A new bill moving through the Idaho legislature aims to stop that.

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“For a hunter to do that is completely unethical, and it’s against fair chase,” Bill London, a 32-year veteran of IDFG and the former Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation president, told KTVB. “People have done it, and with the advances in technology, it’s expanding.”

House Bill 404 calls for an amendment to Idaho Code that allows for a disclosure exemption on wildlife records such as maps, remote camera locations, and telemetry frequencies. The code already lists an exemption for the location of archaeological and geophysical sites not known to the public. 

The new amendment allows IDFG to deny a public records request through an exemption, especially if the intention seems sketchy. “This gives agencies the ability to just say, ‘No. That’s not appropriate for you to have,’” said Brian Brooks, Idaho Wildlife Federation Executive Director during his weekly legislative updates. “There’s a lot of data out there, but because of the fair chase implication, we don’t think that information should be available to the hunting public and to anti-hunters.”

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The bill moved from committee to the Idaho House by unanimous vote Monday. If it becomes law by the end of the legislative session, the denial would also apply to anti-hunters wanting the same information so they can disrupt legal hunts for hot button species like wolves.