The statewide management plans for mule deer and white-tailed deer are being revised, and hunters will want to take note of upcoming opportunities to review and comment on the plans and talk to wildlife managers about them.
Fish and Game officials presented drafts of the management plans to the Fish and Game Commission at its May 17 meeting in Grangeville.
Drafts of both plans will be available for public review and comment in early June. Plans will be posted on the Fish and Game website, and wildlife managers will host open houses in every region of the state to meet with hunters, share information and gather their comments about the plans.
The current deer plans are more than a decade old, and the new plans will reflect changes to deer populations and what hunters have told the department how they prefer deer hunting to be managed.
“Management plans allow us to evaluate what’s working, what’s not working, what limitations we’re dealing with, and whether we can address those limitations,” said Daryl Meints, Fish and Game’s deer and elk coordinator.
However, the plans do not set specific seasons. Fish and Game commissioners set big game seasons last March for 2019-2020 hunting seasons. But the department and commissioners will use these management plans as guidelines when they set future seasons.
Management plans provide the long-term direction, such as population objectives, harvest objectives, preferred hunting opportunities (i.e., general or controlled), balance with other wildlife populations, hunter desires, and more.
Unlike big game rules and regulations, management plans are revised every six to 10 years, depending on the species and how much management needs have changed since the last revision.
Mule deer and whitetail management plans are separate plans, but will be done at the same time.
After public reviews and comments on the draft plans, Fish and Game officials will revise them based on input and present a final draft to the commission this summer or fall.