Several new rules, including a mentored hunting program and changes to fishing rules, take effect January 1; all of them are subject of legislative review.
A new mentored hunting program will allow a person 8 and older to participate in a mentored hunt program without being required to hold a hunter education certificate.
A Hunting Passport is a special authorization that allows the person to take wildlife only when they are accompanied by a mentor and participating in the Mentored Hunting Program. They may participate in the program only for one year, and the Hunting Passport expires December 31 of the year it was issued.
A person with a Hunting Passport at least 8 years old may hunt small game and most upland game birds, but a person must be at least 10 to hunt turkey or sandhill crane and at least 12 to hunt big game.
The mentor must be at least 18 and must possess a valid Idaho hunting license, and he or she may mentor no more than two others at a time.
For anglers, the most significant statewide change is a shift to a three-year cycle. This means the new rules will be effective through 2015. The extension from the former two-year cycle was done to minimize the confusion associated with frequently changing rules.
In addition, the limit on trout will go down to two per day in some streams and urban ponds in the Clearwater, Southwest, Southeast and Upper Snake regions on January 1.
Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted the rule in November. The goal is to increase opportunity for more anglers to catch stocked fish and to reduce the boom and bust cycle with the stocking program.
Affected waters are Big Elk Creek, Crooked Creek and Red River in the Clearwater Region; Parkcenter Pond, Weiser Community Pond, McDevitt Pond and Wilson Ponds in the Southwest Region; Edson Fichter Pond in the Southeast Region; and Becker Pond in the Upper Snake Region.
In addition, in the Magic Valley Region the length limit is removed on smallmouth bass in Magic Reservoir; and in the Southeast Region the bass limit is removed in the Treasureton Reservoir.
In the Upper Snake Region the limit is removed on rainbow trout and hybrid trout in the South Fork Snake River tributaries. The limit on brown trout is two, with none under 16 inches. In Henrys Lake Outlet, the 400 yard section from the USGS gauge to the Henrys Lake Dam opens to fishing.
The changes take effect January 1. New fishing seasons and rules brochures for 2013-2015 are now available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices and on the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/rules/.