A fish and game commissioner in Idaho resigned on Monday after he was sharply criticized over a mass email in which he described killing an array of African animals on a hunting trip and attached pictures of himself with the carcasses.
The Republican governor of Idaho, C. L. Otter, known as Butch, said Monday that he had asked the commissioner, Blake Fischer, to resign and that Mr. Fischer had complied.
“I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government,” Mr. Otter said in a statement. “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner Fischer did not.”
Although the hunting he did in Africa was apparently legal, Mr. Fischer acknowledged in his resignation letter that he had “made some poor judgments” and apologized.
“I did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested,” he said. “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 email at issue was sent by Mr. Fischer to more than 100 people on Sept. 17 and first surfaced Friday in a report from The Idaho Statesman. The New York Times obtained copies of the email and related correspondence on Monday through a public records request.
In the email, Mr. Fischer described a recent trip to Namibia with his wife, Beth, who was on 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.” He included a photo of himself grinning next to four baboons, one of which appears to be a bloodied baby.
He went on to describe his other hunting exploits. His wife is shown next to a dead antelope, oryx and waterbuck. He said he also shot a giraffe, shown lying on its side with a rifle propped against his torso, and a leopard, which was draped across a rock.
“I shot a Leopard. Super cool, super lucky,” Mr. Fischer wrote. “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.”
As one of seven commission members, Mr. Fischer — who was originally appointed to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in 2014 and was reappointed this June — was “responsible for administering the fish and game policy of the state,” according to the department’s website.
Within a few weeks of Mr. Fischer’s email, at least one former Idaho fish and game commissioner, Fred Trevey, replied to him and called for his resignation “sooner rather than later,” according to other emails obtained by The Times. He accused Mr. Fischer of gratuitously sharing photos and descriptions of kills, violating the spirit of responsible hunting.
“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,” Mr. Trevey wrote.
“I’m sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right,” he added.
Another former commissioner wrote to the governor’s office to say he and other former fish and game commissioners objected to the contents of Mr. Fischer’s email.
Namibia places restrictions on when, where and what people can hunt. Trophy hunting season runs from February through November, and hunters must obtain permits, including special permits for large cats, according to the Namibia Professional Hunting Association.
Trophy hunting is also allowed only on properties where hunters have been granted permission by the landowner, the association says.
Unlike in the United States, where wildlife is considered a public resource, private landowners in Africa more or less have ownership of the wild animals on their property, said John McDonald, past president of The Wildlife Society, an international organization committed to addressing issues that affect wildlife.
That means that landowners can bring in hunters to shoot animals in season, set quotas and fees and supplement the wildlife population on their land by breeding animals and releasing them, he said.
“You would pay the landowner or professional hunter a concession to access the property and then for every animal that you choose to take, you would pay a price for that animal,” Mr. McDonald said.
Roger Phillips, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said he could not comment about hunting rules outside the state, but said Mr. Fischer’s hunt was legal “as far as we know.”
Constituent mail to the governor’s office was split, with some expressing support and others disdain for Mr. Fischer. While some called on him to “stand strong” and “keep your head up,” others called his actions “appalling” and suggested he has a “tortured mind.”
The episode has echoes of a 2015 controversy, when an online furor erupted after a beloved Zimbabwe lion named Cecil was shot and killed by a Minnesota dentist, Dr. Walter J. Palmer. Thousands of people signed a petition demanding justice for Cecil, and Dr. Palmer closed his dental practice for more than a month after facing threats and harassment. The Zimbabwe government, however, declined to press charges against Dr. Palmer and said his documentation for the hunt had been proper.
To close the email that led to his resignation, Mr. Fischer made a joking nod to the continent-wide scale of his hunting prowess.
“After we left all of the animals in Africa that were still alive,” he wrote, “we were on a plane headed home!”