Fish and Game is seeking public input on sage-grouse hunting proposals for the 2016 season.
Fish and Game is seeking comments on two options for the 2016 sage-grouse season. Option 1 is the same as the season offered in 2015. Option 2 would re-open Elmore County east and south of U.S. Highway 20 and north of Interstate 84. This area was closed in 2012 due to local wildfire impacts and low population numbers, but recent surveys indicate numbers have improved and that these birds are connected to the larger population to the east. The remainder of Elmore County, including north and west of U.S. Highway 20 would remain closed.
Statewide, the proposed seven-day season would be from September 17 through September 23, with a one-bird daily limit within sage-grouse range, except in designated closed areas.
To view the proposals and to comment, go to https://idfg.idaho.gov/comment, or visit a regional Fish and Game office. Comments will be collected through August 4.
A summary of public comments will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their Monday, August 8 meeting in Boise, when they will consider and set the final seasons.
The 2016 season proposals follow the hunting season and bag-limit guidelines as laid out in the Conservation Plan for the Greater Sage-grouse in Idaho available at https://idfg.idaho.gov/wildlife/sage-grouse. The guidelines compare the current three-year running average of male sage-grouse counted at leks (breeding sites) from 1996-2000 when Idaho began intensified surveys statewide. Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations could be hunted at the “Restrictive” level. The guidelines also allow the flexibility to consider local issues of concern, such as insufficient data, isolated populations or impacts of wildfire and West Nile virus.