Idaho Fish and Game officials will present sage-grouse hunting season recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the August 23 meeting.
Recommendations follow the hunting season and bag-limit guidelines laid out in the state plan for sage-grouse. These guidelines compare the current three-year running average of males counted at breeding sites, known as leks, to counts from 1996 through 2000, when Idaho began intensified surveys statewide.
The guidelines also allow the flexibility to consider local issues of concern, such as insufficient data, isolated populations, or the effects of wildfire and West Nile virus.
Fish and Game recommends changes from the 2011 season that would:
- Close all of Elmore County to sage-grouse hunting, because of insufficient data and wildfire impacts.
- Move opening day for sage-grouse to the third Saturday in September.
Sage-grouse lek data from 2012 show that most populations could be hunted at the "restrictive" level.
The proposed 2012 seasons are:
- Restrictive: Seven-day, one-bird daily limit statewide within sage-grouse range, except in designated closed areas, September 15 through September 21.
- Closed: East Idaho Uplands area in southeastern Idaho; Washington and Adams counties; eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County; and Elmore County.
Sage-grouse is a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The state manages candidate species, and hunting is legal. Idaho Fish and Game biologists closely monitor sage-grouse populations annually.
Beginning August 1, Fish and Game will solicit public comments on these recommendations before the August 23 commission meeting. Please visit the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov or a regional Fish and Game office for specific information on sage-grouse hunting, the season proposal and to provide comments.