With many upland game bird seasons open or opening soon, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking hunters to donate a fully feathered wing for each bird they harvest.
Because juvenile and adult birds molt their wing feathers differently, biologists can use this information to estimate chick production that year. For sage grouse, biologists can even tell if an adult female successfully produced chicks that year. In addition, the percentage of juveniles and adults wings collected can provide information on production rates. All of this information can help determine the status of various game bird populations and helps Fish and Game improve management.
Hunters can provide wings from harvested upland birds to Fish and Game in a variety of ways. They can drop their wings off at department-run check stations or in "wing barrels" located at popular access routes throughout the hunting season.
Unfortunately, check stations and wing barrels sometimes miss grouse hunters in more remote areas of the state. Fish and Game uses a mail-in wing program to target those hunters that may not pass by a check station or wing barrel. About 2,500 hunters who purchased a Sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit will receive a packet in the mail with specific directions and a pre-paid return envelope.
Sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse hunters who did not receive a mail-in wing envelope and are unable to locate a wing barrel site, but still wish to participate, should contact their nearest regional Fish and Game office for more information.
The forest grouse hunting season is already open. California quail, chukar and gray partridge hunting opens Saturday, September 19. The sage-grouse season also opens on September 19, with a seven-day season in open areas south of the Snake River, and a two-day season in open areas north of the Snake River. Here is more information on the 2020 sage grouse hunting season.
Sharp-tailed grouse hunting starts October 1. See Fish and Game's upland game rules booklet for details, or go online to https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland.