Rules limiting use of motorized vehicles were extended to 10 more hunt units when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission met in Boise March 24-26.
Proposals to add Units 39, 22 and 40 to the list were dropped because of public comments and because U.S. Forest Service rules may make Fish and Game action irrelevant in Unit 39. Forest Service rules under consideration now for the area would restrict vehicles to roadways and designated trails year round, not just during hunting seasons.
Restrictions will apply to Units 29, 30, 30A, 36A, 37A, 45, 52, 53, 56, and 66 for big game hunting this year. This is in addition to the units listed last year: 32, 32A, 48, 49, 50, 51, 58, 59, 59A, 70 and 73. The rule also applies in Unit 47 for big game and bird hunting, 72 for late season archery deer hunting and in 75, 77, and 78 for all deer and elk hunting, not just the late muzzleloader season as it was last year.
The rule has been modified slightly from last year because of legislators' concerns. The rule now says: "The use of motorized vehicles by hunters as an aid to hunting big game is restricted in certain areas. This use restriction is in addition to all federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations, ordinances and orders; including, but not limited to, any motorized vehicle licensing, registration, and permitting requirements and traffic laws. Hunters must comply with all motorized vehicle limits or prohibitions instituted by the landowner or land manager. Also, this use restriction rule is not an exception from, and is in addition to, the statutory prohibition against hunting from or by the use of any motorized vehicle set forth in Idaho Code Section 36-1101(b)(1).
Use Restriction. In designated areas and hunts, hunters may only use motorized vehicles on established roadways which are open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by full-sized automobiles. Any other use by hunters is prohibited. All off-road use by hunters is prohibited.
Exceptions. This use restriction rule shall not apply to the following permissible motorized vehicle uses:
a) Holders of a valid Handicapped Person's Motor Vehicle Hunting Permit may use a motorized vehicle as allowed by the landowner or manager.
b) Hunters may use a motorized vehicle to retrieve downed game if such travel is allowed by the landowner or manager.
c) Hunters may use a motorized vehicle to pack camping equipment in or out if such travel is allowed by the landowner or manager; however, hunters shall not hunt while packing camping equipment."
A full-sized automobile is defined as any motorized vehicle with a gross weight in excess of 1,500 pounds. An established roadway is defined as any road that is established, built, maintained, approved or designated by any governmental entity or private landowner for the purpose of travel by full-sized automobiles. An established roadway shows evidence of repeated use by full-sized automobiles, and may include a traveled way of natural earth with depressed wheel tracks and little or no vegetation in the wheel tracks.
Commissioners voted to add a section saying "Private landowners, their authorized agents and persons with written landowner permission may use a motorized vehicle on their private land: however, they may not hunt from or by the use of any motorized vehicle as prohibited by Idaho Code Section 36-1101(b)(1).