The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host an open house on Thursday, July 25, to discuss and gather comments on the upcoming 2013 sage-grouse hunting season.
The open house will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Southeast Region Fish and Game office, 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello. Anyone interested in learning more about sage-grouse populations and wishing to provide comments can stop by the office anytime during the open house.
The public comment period runs from July 17 through July 31.
The 2006 Idaho Sage-Grouse Management Plan outlines population criteria that are to be met to provide hunting seasons. The criteria are based on a comparison of the most recent three-year average lek counts to the average lek counts from 1996-2000 for a specified area.
The options for hunting seasons provided in the plan include a closed season where lek counts are low or data is lacking, a "restrictive" season when lek counts are between 50 and 150 percent of the 1996-2006 average, and a "standard" season when lek counts exceed 150 percent of the 1996-2006 average.
The restrictive season allows for a seven-day season and a one-bird daily bag limit. The standard season allows for a 23-day season and a two-bird daily bag limit.
The current data indicate that hunting seasons for areas in the southeast region would remain closed in the East Idaho Uplands - the area east of Interstate 15 and south of Highway 26 - would remain a restrictive season in the Curlew Valley area, and a standard season could be offered in the southern part of the Big Desert.
However, local working groups and regional staff are recommending that the southern part of the Big Desert remain a restrictive season because of low productivity in 2012 and the desire to be consistent with surrounding areas so additional pressure is not exerted on the Big Desert after seasons are closed in surrounding areas.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will review comments and set the 2013 sage-grouse season at its August 19 meeting in Idaho Falls.
For more information, contact Martha Wackenhut at 208-232-4703 or Jeff Knetter at 208-287-2747.