During their annual meeting on Jan. 24, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted new rules for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat for the 2019-2020 hunting seasons. Statewide, the new rules included a reduction in the number of moose tags available to hunters, an increase of two big horn sheep tags, and decrease of four mountain goat tags.
The new rules booklets will be out in mid March and online prior to that. The application period for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat controlled hunts runs from April 1-30. The earliest controlled moose hunt seasons begin at the end of August, as do the majority of those for bighorn sheep and all of those for mountain goat.
Applicants are reminded Fish and Game will not be accepting mail-in applications for the controlled hunts. Hunters may apply at any hunting and fishing license vendor or Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling (800) 554-8685; or online. A 2019 Idaho hunting license is required to apply. New fees for application are $16.75 for residents and $41.75 for nonresidents.
Here are the 2019-20 changes at a glance:
All three species
New rule for 2019 excludes moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat controlled hunt tags from designation by any parent or grandparent to their minor child or grandchild. The change is an attempt to maintain similar drawing odds for these once-in-a-lifetime species rather than drawing odds being lower due to multiple parents and grandparents applying for these species with intent to designate the tag to their child or grandchild.
Statewide, there will be 634 moose tags – of which 560 are antlered tags – available each year in 2019-20. Statewide changes total a reduction of 109 antlered tags and 62 antlerless tags from 2017-18.
The majority of the statewide reduction in antlered tags (88 percent) will come from the Panhandle region, which decreased from 290 tags in 2017-18 to 194 tags in 2019-20.
Decreases in antlered tags in Clearwater, Southeast, and Upper Snake regions.
Increase in antlered tags for Magic Valley region, including two additional tags in Hunt Area 54; a new hunt (Hunt Area 56, three tags) in Unit 56, which was split from Hunt Area 55; two fewer tags in Hunt Area 55, now composed of Unit 55 and Unit 57.
Elimination of antlerless hunts in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, as well as Hunt Areas 66A, 76-4, 77, and 78 in Southeast Idaho.
One new antlerless hunt that encompasses all of Units 75, 77, and 78 in Southeast Idaho (Hunt Area 75-1, five tags).
Decrease of two antlerless tags in Hunt Area 71 in Southeast Idaho.
Statewide, there will be 99 bighorn sheep tags available each year in 2019-20, two more than in 2018. The statewide net increases in Rocky Mountain bighorn ram tags were offset by decreases in California bighorn ram tags.
Units 13 and 18 were removed from Hunt Area 11 in the Hells Canyon area.
Increase in Rocky Mountain ram tags in the Upper Snake (Hunt Area 20A, one additional tag) and Salmon regions (Hunt Area 37, one additional tag each in the Aug. 30 through Sept. 20 season and Sept. 21 through Oct. 13 seasons).
A new Rocky Mountain bighorn ram hunt in Unit 51-1, on the southern part of the Lemhi Range. In a recent summer survey, biologists counted 80 big horn sheep – more than in the past – and ram numbers suggested that the population will support two tags.
Two new late-season controlled hunts in Hunt Areas 36A and 37A. Biologists initially proposed an increase in tags for existing controlled hunts in those Hunt Areas based on recent survey numbers, but instead allocated the increase in tags to the late hunts in response to public comments from hunters.
Reduction of one tag in Hunt Area 26, which will has also been redrawn to exclude the portion of Unit 20A it previously included in 2017-18.
Statewide reduction of four tags total in California bighorn ram hunts, with Hunt Area 46-1 going from three tags in 2017-18 to two tags in 2019-20. Three tags for Hunt Area 54 were eliminated, and the boundary for the two tags in Hunt Area 55 was expanded to include Hunt Area 54.
Statewide, there will be 44 mountain goat tags available each year in 2019-20, down from 48 in 2017-18.
New hunt created, Hunt Area 51-1, with two tags available. Includes portions of Unit 51 and Unit 58. Hunt Area 37A boundary was redrawn to include other sections of Unit 51 and Unit 58.
Increases in tags some areas of the Frank Church Wilderness, including one additional tag each in Hunt Areas 27-2 and 27-4, due to high success rates and low nanny harvest. The boundaries on those areas have been redrawn, bringing more goats into those hunt areas and allowing for greater tag numbers.
Increases of one tag in Hunt Area 43 and two tags in Hunt Area 50.
Elimination of Hunt Area 1 (Panhandle). Biologists do not believe that there are sufficient goats in that Hunt Area to support a tag based on reports from sportsmen in the area, knowledge of population dynamics and herds that spend time in Idaho and Montana. Biologists plan to survey the area next year and reevaluate it.
Hunt Area 7 is changed to Hunt Area 9, and composed solely of Unit 9 – where the majority of the goats in the area live. The change is an effort to shift hunters to where there are goat numbers are strong enough to support a tag.
Reduction of three tags each in Hunt Areas 36-1 and 36A-1, due to declining hunter success and high incidence of nanny harvest in those regions, as well as a reduction of one tag in 36A-3.
Reduction of one tag in Hunt Areas 10-1 and two tags in Hunt Area 67