Local moose hunt proposed
Healthy populations help lead to proposal
"We feel that, biologically, with the moose population being what
it is up there, two permits will have minimal impact on the population, and it would
provide some hunting opportunities."
Mike Todd, Fish and Game spokesman
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
For the first time since their reintroduction to south-central
Idahos mountains in the early 1970s, moose could be hunted in the Wood River Valley.
Fish and Games Magic Valley Region is proposing the hunt for game
management units 48 (west of Highway 75) and 49 (east of Highway 75). The proposal is for
a total of two bull moose permits to be issued there for the 2001-2002 hunting season.
There are between 70 and 80 moose in the Wood River Valley, more than
enough to offer limited hunting opportunities, said Fish and Game spokesman Mike Todd.
By comparison, the Big Lost River Valley area, east of the Wood River
Valley, offers six bull moose permits annually. Populations there are between 300 and 400
"We feel that, biologically, with the (Big Wood) moose population
being what it is up there, two permits will have minimal impact on the population, and it
would provide some hunting opportunities," Todd said.
The biggest issue likely to be raised about the proposed hunt, he said, is
the potential proximity of moose hunting to residential areas. Because moose prefer
valleys and wetlands, moose hunters could end up closer to populated areas than elk and
deer hunters do.
Moose have not always been a constant variable in the Wood River
Valleys wildlife equation. Historically, the often belligerent beasts roamed freely
throughout the Rocky Mountains, across Canada and Europe, and in the lake country of New
But when Europeans settled Idaho, moosealong with elkwere
exterminated from the states south-central mountainous regions to put food on
In Idahos south-central mountains, moose were reintroduced roughly
30 years ago by Fish and Game. In the early 1970s, the department began trapping problem
moose from regions of the state where stocks were healthy, and freeing them in the Big
Lost River basin.
The population grew, and in the 1980s, moose were reintroduced to the
Smoky Mountains, immediately west of the Wood River Valley. The Sun Valley area was
surrounded, but not penetrated, by animals that had called it home for thousands of years.
The department considered reintroducing the animals to the Wood River
Valley in the 1980s, but didnt because of the inevitable social impactsimpacts
that are beginning to be felt today as populations continue to expand. Also, Department of
Fish and Game conservation officer Lee Frost said, department personnel knew the moose
populations would eventually fill in the gap between the areas in which they were
reintroduced as their populations grew.
Locally, moose weigh between 850 and 1,000 pounds. Alaskan moose can weigh
up to 1,800 pounds.
Moose are herbivores and tend to browse on aquatic plants such as lilies,
as well as willow shoots, birches and young aspen. Because most of what they feed on is
aquatic or riparian, they generally keep to rivers, streams, lakes or swampy areas in the
summer. It is not uncommon, however, to spot a moose on an arid mountain ridge or in a
field of sagebrush, Frost said.
Locally, the most concentrated populations are in the Trail Creek and
North Fork areas of the Big Wood River drainage. In the winter, moose commonly reside on
the western edges of Ketchum and in Trail Creek.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed Wood River
Valley moose hunt at the Magic Valley Regions open house meeting in Jerome later
this month. The meeting will be held at the Jerome regional office from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
on Nov. 30. Phone calls will be accepted Nov. 27 through Nov. 30, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
each day. Call 324-4358.
Trophy species regulations (those for bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats
and the like) are reviewed every two years.