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Commission Approves Rule Changes

Meeting by conference call June 1, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved several rule changes which were proposed at its May meeting. Public comment was accepted in the interim. All commissioners were present except Dr. Fred Wood, from the Magic Valley Region. All the changes are effective immediately unless otherwise noted. The commission approved eliminating the October 31 cutoff date for purchase of archery and muzzleloader permits. The permits were supported by sportsman organizations to try to keep inexperienced hunters from buying a new weapon and heading out for a late hunt. They have become unneeded because of the requirement for archery education and the elk zone tag system. The commission approved a proposal to allow residents to purchase unsold nonresident deer or elk tags at nonresident prices, and use them as an additional tag. The start date for these sales will be September 1. Last year 2,954 of these tags were unsold. Also approved was a motion to allow a bear or mountain lion to be taken by the holder of a valid nonresident deer tag. The deer season must be open in the area, as well as the bear or lion season, whichever applies. The "daily bag limit" on big game was clarified as the number of valid tags in possession of the hunter; and the season bag limit as the number of valid tags purchased. Previously the limits had been one per day and one per year, but the multiple-tag scenario now possible called for the changes. The commission also prohibited all electronic devices attached to or incorporated within any firearm used for hunting. This extends the ban which has applied to archery equipment to other weapons used for hunting and will maintain traditional methods. A list of back country airstrips was adopted, as provided by the Department of Transportation, to identify strips in Unit 27 where there is a 2-mile closure during the October-November controlled hunt for deer. This is a one-year closure to address low buck numbers and the impacts of hunters who would fly into these airstrips en masse and concentrate their activities around the airstrips. Early in the season this is not an issue because the deer are not concentrated near the strips. The airstrips are both publicly and privately owned, and include Indian Creek, Mahoney, Bernard, Upper Loon, Thomas Creek, Lower Loon, Pistol Creek and Flying B airstrips. The commission agreed to decide in July whether an observer with a hound hunting party needed to have a hunting license, and to make decisions on outfitting for turkey hunting, and a statewide predator policy at its August meeting.