Fish and Game is seeking public input on sage-grouse hunting proposals. Upland bird managers will present sage-grouse hunting season recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their August 11 meeting.
Recommendations follow the hunting season and bag-limit guidelines as laid out in the state plan for sage-grouse. These guidelines compare the current 3-year running average of male sage-grouse counted at leks (breeding sites) to counts from 1996-2000 when Idaho began intensified surveys statewide. Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations could be hunted at the "Restrictive" level. The guidelines also allow the flexibility to consider local issues of concern, such as insufficient data, isolated populations, or impacts of wildfire and West Nile virus.
Sage-grouse are proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act; primarily due to habitat loss from such things as wildfire and invasive plants like cheat grass. Sage-grouse experts have determined that carefully regulated hunting is not a primary threat to populations, and Fish and Game closely monitors sage-grouse annually to ensure hunting will not compromise the population.
The Department is considering two options for the 2014 season:
Option A would be no change from the 2013 season.
- Restrictive: Seven-day, one-bird daily limit statewide within sage-grouse range, except in designated closed areas, September 20 through September 26.
- Closed: East Idaho Uplands area in southeastern Idaho; Washington and Adams counties; Eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County; and Elmore County.
Option B would be the same as Option A, but would add a new closure in parts of Bannock, Cassia, Oneida, and Power counties. Males at leks in this area have declined by 53% since 2011.
The public comment period is July 15 to August 5. Please visit a regional Fish and Game office for specific information on sage-grouse hunting, the season proposals and to provide comments. You can also learn more and provide comments at: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/webform/2014-sage-grouse-season-pr...