A new statewide elk management plan was unanimously approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their January 16 meeting in Boise.
In 2011, Fish and Game launched an effort to update the 12 year-old plan. Strategies were driven by public expectations and changes in elk populations.
Revisions were based largely on comments received on the draft plan, two surveys of Idaho elk hunters in the spring and summer of 2012, and in part on changes in habitat, predation and agricultural depredation conflicts.
The 2014 elk management plan is not designed to prescribe specific hunting seasons; rather it is designed to establish goals that Fish and Game staff - working with elk hunters, farmers and ranchers, other agencies, and other members of the public - will achieve over the next 10 years.
The new plan directs the Department to maintain or increase current elk populations across most of the state. Included in the plan is a list of factors that currently limit elk numbers and corresponding actions to reduce those limiting factors. Those factors are specific to each elk management zone and range from predation to habitat loss and human development.
The plan specifically seeks to improve elk habitat, partner with agriculture and hunters to better address the damage that growing elk population have on crops and fences, and more aggressively target predators such as bears, mountain lions and wolves.
For example, in those management zones where habitat either moderately or high limits elk populations, the plan built in corresponding actions for habitat change such as the number of acres that should be treated for noxious weed. Where elk are causing damage to agricultural fields, the Department will seek additional help to haze elk, improve communications with farmers, and work collaboratively to reduce the elk impact. In management zones that are limited by predation, the elk plan links actions associated with specific Predation Management Plans, to reduce predation impacts in a specific area.
The plan along with a summary document A Guide to Idaho's 2014 Elk Plan will be available on the Fish and Game website by January 24 at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/elkplanning, or at regional Fish and Game offices.