BOISE, Idaho (KIFI)-The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved big game hunting seasons for the next two years. The booklet outlining the rules will be available on the department’s website by early April and printed copies in May.
Mule deer hunters will see reduced antlerless harvest in the Upper Snake and Southeast regions. Nearly all antlerless opportunities have been eliminated in the southeast, in an effort to help mule deer populations rebound. Upper Snake hunters will see reductions in general youth season, general archery only seasons, and controlled either-sex seasons for the same reason. A substantial increase in mule-deer hunts will be allowed in southwest Idaho where numbers are reaching the capacity of habitat to support them.
Major changes for elk hunters will primarily focus on the Boise River Elk Zone and the Smoky-Bennett Elk Zone.
In response to steadily increasing numbers of archery hunters, the Commission approved changing unlimited archery controlled hunts for pronghorn into first-choice only hunts.
The primary change for black bear hunters will affect the Weiser area, which will move away from a strictly controlled hunt framework to more general season opportunity near private lands. Controlled hunts will continue on other public land.
According to the Commission, Major changes for mountain lion hunters include the removal of male and female quotas statewide, and allowing the use of electronic calls. The changes were proposed as an effort to increase lion harvest and reduce predation on deer and elk, and reduce human conflicts and livestock depredations. Fish and Game staff will monitor the harvest in real time and recommend closing a season, if needed.
There will be no major changes in white-tailed deer hunts.
The Commission generally recommended expanding wolf-hunting to year-round in much of the state, including areas with chronic predation and depredation issues. Wolf trapping was set to open September 10 on private land and October 10 in some areas on October 10. Specific details will be included in the printed regulations.