Idaho Fish and Game will be host an open house to discuss big game hunting seasons on from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Best Western Plus in Coeur d'Alene.
The Best Western Plus was formerly known as the Coeur d'Alene Inn, and is located on the corner of Highway 95 and Appleway just north of Interstate 90.
Anyone interested in big game seasons is encouraged to come at any time during the open house.
Fish and Game employees will be there to discuss big game seasons and answer questions. Questionnaires will be provided for attendees to complete.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set final big game hunting season rules at their quarterly meeting in Boise on Tuesday, March 18. Questionnaires completed at meeting and online throughout the state will be provided to the Commissioners prior to setting seasons. In addition, a public meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 17, during which anyone can directly address the commission in person.
Season proposals are posted on the Fish and Game website here individuals may comment as well. The website provides an opportunity for people to review the proposals and provide comments without having to travel to a meeting. Depending upon the year and the proposed changes, as many as 500 comments are received from the Panhandle Region alone on the website.
Additionally, 650 people who have attended a big game season public meeting in the Panhandle over the past several years will receive an email containing season summaries and asking for comments.
Two years ago, Fish and Game mailed out a questionnaire on hunting seasons in Unit 1 to a random selection of Unit 1 elk hunters. The process provided a statistically valid cross-section of hunters' opinions and proved to be a very valuable tool to help in decision-making. That effort is being expanded this year, and 1,000 hunters who purchased hunting licenses in the Panhandle Region will receive a survey in the mail. Their comments will help make decisions for the 2013 seasons.
Current season proposals in the region are similar to last year. No changes are proposed for general season for elk, white-tailed deer, or mule deer. There are a few minor season changes proposed for deer and elk controlled hunts.
The controlled hunts that were put in place last year had a longer opportunity to hunt antlerless elk than previous general hunt seasons. Permit numbers were kept fairly low. The proposal for 2013 controlled elk hunts includes an increase in permit numbers from 200 each to 300 each for Units 3 and 5.
A new controlled hunt for antlerless elk is proposed for Unit 3 within one mile of private property. This hunt would allow 50 hunters to hunt with any weapon for antlerless elk December 1 through 31.
The controlled hunt for extra antlerless deer, white-tailed deer only, in Unit 1 is proposed to increase from 250 to 300 permits and allow any weapon hunting from October 10 to December 24. The hunt description would allow hunting only within one mile of private land. For purposes of this hunt, corporately owned timberlands would not be considered private land.
The proposed changes to deer and elk controlled hunts would offer additional hunting opportunity and address depredation concerns.
No changes are proposed for black bear or mountain lion, except in Units 7 and 9, where less restrictive seasons are proposed to help improve elk calf recruitment, which is particularly low in those units. In Units 7 and 9, new season dates of April 15 to July 31 are proposed. The current dog training season would be changed into an open take season.
These proposed changes will offer additional hunting opportunity and potentially increase harvest in Units 7 and 9 where spring access is often limited. These units previously closed on June 30.
The 2013 mountain lion season proposal would increase the time when dogs are allowed in most units and will offer additional hunting opportunity in Units 7 and 9. This proposal could potentially increase lion harvest. In Units 4, 7 and 9 dogs would be prohibited October 10-November 9. The 2013 proposal for Units 7 and 9 allows the use of electronic calls and allows hunters to harvest two mountain lions in those units. New lion season dates in Units 7 and 9 are proposed for August 30-June 30.
No general season changes are proposed for wolf hunting seasons for 2013.