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Idaho Fish and Game

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Deadline Alert: Elk plan comment period ends May 5


Plan will guide elk management for the next six years

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking comments on its draft Idaho Elk Management Plan 2024-2030. The plan will provide guidance for staff to implement management actions that will aid in managing elk populations and guide harvest recommendations.

It will function as the action plan for Idaho elk management through 2030 by guiding Fish and Game staff in annual work plan development and prioritization while providing direction for development of season recommendations.

Major sections in the plan include: 

•    Population Monitoring
•    Hunting Opportunities
•    Predation
•    Private Lands and Elk
•    Habitat
•    Statewide Management Direction
•    Elk Management Zones

See the elk management plan webpage to read and comment. Deadline to comment is 6 p.m. on May 5. 

Why is it important to hunters?

The updated plan is a revision and not a complete overhaul. The department and Commission are unlikely to drastically change the current foundation of elk hunting, which is the 28 Elk Zones with the A/B tag system and a mix of general and controlled hunts. 

The plan is the blueprint for sustaining healthy elk herds, rebuilding herds that are below objectives, and establishes goals that Fish and Game will work to achieve over the next six years. 

Specifically, the plan:

  • Sets elk management objectives for each of the 28 management zones
  • Identifies specific factors limiting elk numbers in each management zone
  • Forms strategies and objectives to address limiting factors that could be affecting elk herds

If you are an elk hunter, here’s what the new elk plan can provide for you:

  • Continued elk seasons that provide general season hunting opportunities each year
  • Elk population management goals and management that aligns with hunter preferences

How can hunters get involved? 

The draft plan is 190 pages long, and for most hunters, there’s no need to read the entire plan. A good strategy is to read the executive summary, which is a good overview of statewide management goals, and then read details about an individual Elk Zone, or zones, a hunter is most interested in. 

Of course, people are welcome to read the whole thing, but most won’t need to, and they shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the whole plan. Constructive comments should include references to specifics in the plan and why you think they should be different.

If hunters support the existing plan, they’re welcome to say that so Fish and Game staff will get an idea of who’s for and against certain things.

How does a management plan differ from season setting? 

The plan creates sideboards for elk management, and season setting involves the actions within those sideboards that help carry out strategies in the plan. The two work hand-in-hand, but serve two different roles. 

The management plan guides wildlife managers’ decisions and allows different strategies to be applied to each elk zone.  

Some zones might provide more opportunities for muzzleloader and archery seasons through A tags, others are better suited for any-weapon seasons through B tags, and some zones will be limited to controlled hunts. 

Season setting is where much of the plan is implemented and uses specific actions – typically hunting seasons – to carry out the management plan. 

“Every proposal made during the season-setting process aims to achieve at least one of three things,” said Rick Ward, State Wildlife Manager. “Maintain the population within management plan’s objectives, provide hunting opportunities, and make sure the elk populations are not causing problems, such as depredation on agriculture lands.” 

Upcoming open houses

April 11 | 4-6 p.m. PDT
Panhandle Regional Office – 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d'Alene 

April 16 | 4-7 p.m. MDT
Salmon Regional Office – 99 Hwy. 93 N., Salmon

April 18 | 4-6:30 p.m. PDT
Clearwater Regional Office – 3316 16th St., Lewiston

April 22 | 4-6:30 p.m. MDT
Southwest Regional Office – 555 Deinhard Lane, McCall

April 25 | 4-7 p.m. MDT
Southwest Regional Office – 15950 N. Gate Blvd. Nampa

April 25 | 4-6 p.m. MDT
Magic Valley Regional Office – 324 South 417 East - Suite 1, Jerome

April 30 | 4-6 p.m. MDT
Southeast Regional Office – 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello

April 30 | 4-7 p.m. MDT
Upper Snake Regional Office – 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls

April 30 | 4-7 p.m. MDT
IDFG Headquarters – 600 S. Walnut, Boise

What comes next? 

After a public comment period, Fish and Game staff will look at the public input and decide what, or whether, to change things. They will make those revisions and then forward the revised plan to the Fish and Game Commission for their approval. After the Commission approves it, it will guide elk management until at least 2030.