Fish and Game has no plan to close hunts in southern Idaho where wildland fire conditions are extreme but everyone headed into hunting or fishing territory must abide by the restrictions currently in force on Forest, BLM and state lands.
With archery seasons for antelope and early elk hunts set to begin soon, hunters should be aware of fire dangers and use restrictions that include keeping all motorized vehicles on established roads.
A "short-range weapons only" hunt begins August 15 in Units 23 and 24 and an "any weapon" hunt starts the same day in Unit 22. The hunt areas are outside forest boundaries, but any fire that starts could quickly burn into the Payette National Forest. Three "any weapon" hunts for antlerless elk are already going on in eastern Idaho. Most archery hunting for antelope takes place on BLM lands.
Wildfires are currently burning in several parts of Idaho. Fire season severity is far above average and expected to remain so until the weather changes. State lands, including Fish and Game Wildlife Management Areas, as well as BLM lands and forests have been declared off-limits to firewood cutting. Restrictions on campfires and smoking have been in place for several weeks. Use of motorized vehicles including ATVs is confined strictly to established roadways. Wood or charcoal fires are not allowed for cooking and heating except in improved campgrounds. Chainsaws and generators and other power equipment are prohibited. The motorized travel and equipment restrictions only apply from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Muzzleloader hunters, because their rifles are loaded with loose powder, must be extremely aware of the danger of starting a fire when they shoot. Hunters should stay informed of conditions before they go. Checking with Forest Service offices in the area of the hunt is advised.
The Forest Service and BLM plans to provide copies of fire restrictions and cautions which Fish and Game will make available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, and other outlets.
A page on the Fish and Game website has links to fire information pages on the Internet. It can be found under "What's New" on the Fish and Game home page at http://www.state.id.us/fishgame