State changes hunting regulations
Adjustments designed to boost mule deer numbers
By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer
A mule deer jumps a fence in southern Blaine County. Photo by David N. Seelig
Hunters headed out into the hills and rangelands of the Magic Valley region will see several new opportunities and a few minor adjustments in this year’s hunting regulations.
Some of the biggest changes the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has implemented this year were made to the mule deer season with the implementation of a new plan to increase numbers of the popular big-game species.
“ This year we began implementing Idaho’s new mule deer plan that provides direction to balance hunting opportunities with the desires of hunters,” said Randy Smith, Magic Valley regional wildlife manager. “A couple of the changes weren’t without controversy, but we think we’ve made a good start at improving mule deer hunting in southern Idaho.”
Smith said the new plan is about more than hunting.
“I encourage Idaho hunters to take a look at it and get involved in mule deer management issues,” he said.
Fish and Game has made the following changes to hunt regulations in the Magic Valley region:
· Unit 56 no longer has a two-point-only restriction for mule deer. Hunters will now be able to harvest any antlered deer from Oct. 10-31.
· Some of the biggest changes to take place have been in the antlerless deer hunting opportunities. After an all-unit survey of Fish and Game Unit 45, which winters most of the summering deer from units 43, 44 and 45, biologists determined that range conditions could sustain a larger population of mule deer. To help increase overall deer numbers, Magic Valley hunters will see a decrease in antlerless deer permits in units 43, 44-1 and 45.
· Mule deer permits were reduced in Unit 43 from 700 permits to 250, in Hunt Area 44-1 from 450 permits to 250 and in Unit 45 from 700 permits to 250. Unit 52 was also reduced from 200 mule deer permits to 100.
· Fish and Game advises hunters to check hunting regulations closely this year because several of the season dates in the controlled mule deer hunts have been modified to accommodate other changes.
· Muzzleloader hunters in the Magic Valley will see a 125-permit mule deer hunt rotate to Hunt Area 47-3 and run from Nov. 1-14. This hunt will include units 47, 54, 55 and 57.
· Elk hunters will also see a few changes in Magic Valley regulations. The Bennett Hills zone A-Tag will offer muzzleloaders a Sept. 15-30 antlerless elk hunt. The Bennett Hills spike hunt will no longer be offered.
· Antlered elk tags in Unit 49 were reduced for the 2008 season due to low bull-to-cow ratios. Permits went from 20 to 10 permits for the Sept. 25 to Oct. 10 hunt and from 225 to 150 permits for the Oct. 15-30 hunt.
The 2008 regulations can be viewed at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/rules/bg/. Copies of the regulations should be available by mid-April.