IDAHO FALLS - Meeting via conference call on 1/22/02, the Idaho Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to reopen the lion hunting season in the management area that encompasses units 64, 65, 66, 67, & 69. The recommendation to reopen the season was supported by regional staff and presented by the IDFG Wildlife Bureau after Commissioner Moulton indicated that he had received many requests from sportsmen to reopen the season. The new season is for both male and female cats and will remain open until a quota of 17 females has been harvested.
At least one lion hunter in Idaho Falls was so excited by the Commission's decision that he made it to a license vendor to purchase a tag even before the POS'M machines had been reprogrammed for the reopened season. While lion hunters may be excited about the extended season, it is important that they follow other State and Federal regulations that remain in effect.
Probably the most important Federal regulations that still must be heeded are those pertaining to areas closed to motorized travel under the winter travel plan that is currently in effect on the Caribou -Targhee National Forest. Hunters should especially take note that the road along the South Fork of the Snake River remains closed.
Because wintering herds of deer and elk attract cougars, it is important that hound hunters try to keep hunting dogs under control. Traditionally, the Rainey Creek drainage has been closed by mutual agreement of the USFS and IDFG to protect wintering wildlife. According to Regional Conservation Officer John Hansen, "Hound hunters are encouraged to not release hounds near to Rainey Creek in order to help prevent the complications that could arise if hounds chased a lion into the closed area."
While lion hunters are being allowed back into the field, it is also important to remember that the units involved are included in the shed antler gathering restriction regulation. The ultimate intent of this regulation is to help minimize negative impact on wintering herds, so everyone heading out into the hills is asked to please allow wildlife plenty of room.
Sportsmen looking for answers to questions about regulations or seasons can contact the regional IDFG Office at 525-7290.