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Sage Grouse, Yes! Sharp-Tailed, No!

IDAHO FALLS - As Eastern Idaho once again prepares for the annual sage grouse opener, it is critical that sportsmen are sure of their targets before they squeeze the trigger! Once again this year, the opening of sharp-tailed grouse is delayed until October first because of concern that the birds could be vulnerable to hunting pressure while gathered at leks to perform mating rituals. Leks are large clear flat areas where many species of grouse congregate to select mates. Sage grouse gather on leks in the spring, but sharp-tailed grouse gather on the leks in the fall, hence the separate seasons. Sage grouse season runs from 9/15/01 - 09/21/01 for the majority of the Upper Snake Region. Sharp-tailed season is longer and runs from 10/01/01 -10/31/01. Both species have areas within the Upper Snake Region that are closed for hunting. Most sportsmen are aware that the INEEL has always been closed to hunting, but adjacent areas have also been closed to assist in research efforts to monitor bird movement and survival. Regulations detailing seasons and hunt boundaries are free and available at any license vendor or regional office. Bag limits for sage grouse remain at one per day, with a possession limit of two after the first day. Sharp-tailed limits are two per day, with a bag limit of four after the first day. As sportsmen head into the field to harvest a sage grouse, it is possible that they could shoot a bird that is wearing a radio collar. It is legal to harvest these birds, but hunters are asked to please return the band or collar to IDFG. These devices, along with returned wings, aid research projects already underway studying the overall sage grouse population situation. Sportsmen are reminded that at least one fully-feathered wing must remain attached to birds until they reach their final destination. Once the sharp-tailed grouse season starts sportsmen are asked to deposit wings in "wing barrels" they may encounter while hunting, or at any check station or regional office. Sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse hunters are also reminded that they must purchase the $1.50 additional Sage/Sharp-tailed Grouse Permit Validation. This permit helps IDFG track the numbers of hunters involved pursuing these types of grouse, without getting into controlled hunt situations like other states. This validation is not included in the Sportsman's Package and is not required for forest grouse.