Proposed Changes for the 2019-2020 Big Game Seasons
- No proposals specific to white-tailed deer.
- Youth-only antlerless opportunity was removed from the Southeast Region during the last season setting cycle in response to the severe winter in 2016-2017. The 2017-2018 winter was mild to moderate in most of the region which allowed for higher survival of fawns and adults. Across the region, mule deer appear in good body condition and current winter conditions have not been severe. As such, mule deer in many areas have increased. The Southeast Region is proposing to add youth-only antlerless opportunity back to some units in the Southeast Region where appropriate. The goal is to provide youth an opportunity with higher success rates to hunt mule deer.
- The Southeast Region has several late season controlled hunt opportunities with differing weapon types. Beginning in 2014, the Region implemented a rotating muzzleloader hunt in Units 68, 73A, and 74. Current buck populations in many areas can support conservative late season opportunity. As such, the Region is proposing annual muzzleloader controlled hunts in these units, but with reduced tag levels. Additionally, Units 70 and 73 currently have late any-weapon hunts with 5 total tags. The region is proposing an increase in these tag levels to 10.
- Unit 73 – The five year average number of hunters is 1,590 and the five year average proportion of non-residents is 29%. In 2017, 1,547 hunters participated in this hunt, of which 35% (547) were non-residents. To address reports of crowding and non-resident participation the region is proposing a reduction in the non-resident allocation to 15% as well as an extension of the season to Oct 24th. Using the 5-year average, non-resident tags would be set at 240 (i.e. 15% of the total hunters averaged across the last 5 years). This results in a reduction of about 215 non-resident hunters.
- The Diamond Creek A-tag is capped at 1,836 and current non-resident allocation is 35% of the total cap. Both resident and non-resident tags are selling out quickly each year and non-resident participation continues to be a concern from residents who participate in this hunt. To provide opportunity for residents the Southeast Region is proposing a reduction in the allocation of non-resident tags on the A-tag from current allocation of 35% to 25%. This reduction would result in removal of 184 non-resident tags and shift them into the resident pool beginning the 2020 hunting season.
- IDFG conducted an aerial survey for elk in Diamond Creek during January of 2018. The last time this survey was conducted was in 2013 with a wintering elk population of 2,352. The 2018 survey yielded a winter estimate of 4,251 total elk. The Diamond Creek elk population, as a result of this survey, is slightly over management objectives which warrants increased opportunity for hunters. The Region is proposing increases to controlled hunt antlerless opportunity with the goal of harvesting more antlerless elk to move this population towards management objectives. Similarly, the Region is proposing increases to antlered opportunity and converting antlered-only controlled hunts to either-sex.
- Several areas in the Southeast Region are experiencing chronic depredations by elk. The Region is proposing several ideas to address these areas. Landowner Permission Hunts (LPH), extended seasons and weapon types, as well as modified season structures are incorporated into several proposals.
- The Southeast Region has pronghorn hunting opportunity in Units 68 and 76. During the harsh winter of 2016-2017 approximately 300 pronghorn crossed the ice on American Falls Reservoir. It appears most of these individuals have not returned leaving the pronghorn population in Unit 68 suppressed. In Unit 76, the small numbers of pronghorn continue to have an isolated distribution and do not appear to be increasing significantly. Based on this information the Region is not proposing any changes to current pronghorn seasons or tag levels.
- Add opportunity where black bear observations have been increasing in recent years. The region is proposing a general spring and fall hunt in some Units in the region that historically did not have black bear opportunity. This proposal prohibits the use of bait and hounds to keep harvest limited, and allow black bears to persist for future opportunity.
The Southeast Region has implemented a variety of female quota and no quota season structures for the last several decades. On average, lion hunters harvested 5, 27, 50, and 47 lions annually in the Southeast Region during the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010 – 2017, respectively. Average age of lions remain low (~2.8 years old), and anecdotal information suggests an abundance of young lions on the landscape. In recent years, IDFG is responding to increased lion conflicts and interactions with the public. Moving forward, the Region would like to reduce total abundance while at the same time increase the average age of harvested lions. This would serve to provide a quality opportunity for lion hunters as well as potentially reduce human/lion conflicts and the potential impact mountain lions have on ungulate populations. Since 2015, female quotas in the Southeast Region are met earlier and earlier during the season. Most recently, female quotas in 3 of 4 areas in this Region were filled before January 1, thus terminating the take season. To achieve desired objectives, harvest needs to be tailored to reduce overall recruitment and reproduction while protecting some individuals annually to increase age structure and maintain stability with resident mountain lions.
Therefore, the Southeast Region is proposing two options to achieve these objectives.
- Option 1: Provide a new season structure absent of quotas, but with an early closing date on harvest of males. Increased female harvest will aid to reduce overall lion abundance while early closing date for harvest of males will allow males to reach an older age class.
- Option 2: Maintain a female quota system, but with increased harvest limits on females. Harvest of mountain lions would close once the quota is met, thus allowing some individuals to reach older age classes.
- Offer wolf trapping seasons where they previously have not been offered.