New bill would change Idaho shed hunting
A new bill could change shed hunting in Idaho. Senate Bill 1143, which was recently introduced, would allow the Idaho Fish and Game Commission the ability to set separate shed seasons for antelope, deer, elk and moose, according to The Spokesman-Review. The practice is currently unregulated in the state, leaving hunters and wildlife managers concerned that early shed hunting is impacting animals still on their winter ranges.
“The winter has been really harsh this year. The cold snap came in November and never left. The snow came early, a lot came and it’s still coming,” said Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, who is sponsoring the bill on behalf of the commission. “Wildlife are stressed this time of year. They are at their weakest point.”
As GOHUNT has recently reported, wildlife across the West is still struggling due to severe weather and little forage. Adding human interaction with early shed hunters on winter range and it’s a recipe for disaster. In fact, IDFG is already operating over 20 feeding stations in the Southeast Region and closed some wildlife management areas, according to The Spokesman-Review.
Supporters of the bill like Jordan Cheirrett, who is a member of the commission, say it would “give the commission a missing tool” to regulate the activity. “Especially in winters like this one, the ability to protect the wildlife while they are in their most vulnerable state will be critical,” said Cheirrett.
“A lot of people are really passionate about it and they enjoy doing it,” said Scott Wright, conservation supervisor for the Southeast Region at Pocatello. “The earlier you can get out there, sometimes the better. If there was an opening day, there wouldn’t be the incentive to be out there before the next guy.”
But does the entire state need to regulated? George Fischer, a regional supervisor with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, believes some of the areas – like the Clearwater Region – won’t need it because there’s plenty of space for deer, elk and shed hunters.
“Just with the lay of our land, the amount of canyon country and timber country, we don’t stress our critters out too much,” said Fischer.
Idaho would be following neighboring states Utah and Wyoming, which already have shed hunting seasons in place.
“Our surrounding neighboring states have put restrictions or seasons on antler hunting, so we are having some reports of out-of-staters coming to Idaho and reports from Fish and Game of snowmobile tracks going through big-game range,” said Harris.
The bill should be heard by the Senate Resources and Environment Committee next week. Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further updates.