Blake Fischer is a Fish and Game Commissioner in Idaho. There are six other commissioners. He is an avid sport hunter.
While on holiday in Namibia, Africa, Blake Fischer had someone photograph him with an entire family of baboons which he had just shot to impress his wife. He used a bow and arrow. In an email Mr Fischer joked that his wife wanted to get a feel of Africa. He decided to shoot a whole family of baboons in response. The photograph included the bloodstained body of a baby baboon. He said that she got the message quickly. He also had pictures taken of him with a dead giraffe and a dead leopard.
Fischer is surprised that his behavior is now featured all over the news media including The Times newspaper from which I am writing this article. Fischer said that he didn’t do anything illegal, unethical or immoral.
Free to shot Baboons
He said that baboons were “weird creatures” and that shooting them in Namibia was free. What he means is that you normally have to pay the Namibian government for the right to kill certain animals. There is no charge for shooting baboons. If you shoot a cheetah it’ll cost you £5200. A honey badger costs £600.
I would dispute Mr Fischer’s description that what he did was neither immoral nor unethical. Although, of course, it wasn’t illegal. Legal activities are not necessarily ethical or moral. The fact that the Namibian government allows 15,000 animals to be shot annually does not mean that the government is acting morally or ethically. Many wildlife conservationists would disagree strongly with this policy and say it is immoral. It’s a policy which is designed to raise funds for conservation. However, I have argued strongly myself that trophy hunting funds do not benefit conservation.
Namibia is one of the few countries in Africa in which tourists can pay to shoot elephants, leopards and lions. From my standpoint, it’s a country out of step with the pressing need for wildlife conservation in Africa. Several former colleagues of Mr Fischer have told the Idaho Statesman that he should step down from his role as a fish and game commissioner.
One of the other commissioners, Fred Trevy, agrees that Mr Fischer has not broken any laws but that his actions “were not right”. Neither were they sportsmanlike. Others have demanded an apology from Mr Fischer and described his behavior as “revolting”.
In addition, the hunting guidebook of Idaho says that hunters should “refrain from taking graphic pictures of the kill”. I think we can all agree that the picture of Mr Fischer in front of the family of baboons that he gleefully shot to impress his wife is truly revolting and also in breach of the Idaho hunting guidebook rules.