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Idaho Fish and Game Commission propose new hunting rules


Rocky bighorn sheep on ridge
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is considering some changes to the state’s current hunting rules that could impact big game hunting across Idaho. The proposed rule changes do not include using bait to hunt wolves or trail camera/two-way communication restrictions; both of those items have been dropped from the current discussion. Instead, these changes will affect nonresident tag allocation and bighorn sheep units and tags as well as red squirrel classification.

According to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) press release, the rules recently adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission were published on October 4 in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin and the Commission is accepting public comment through Oct. 25. They plan to send the proposed rules for legislative review and finalization during their November meeting; however, the Idaho Legislature will still need to approve these proposed rules in order for them to become final rules.

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IDFG has summarized the proposed rules as the following:

Nonresident Tag Limit and Outfitter Allocation in Unlimited Control Hunts

  • Create authority for non-outfitted nonresident tag limits in unlimited controlled hunts and to provide for outfitter allocation in unlimited controlled hunts. Docket #’s 13-0104-1703 and 13-0108-1704.   

Bighorn sheep Auction and Lottery Tags

  • Modify wording that restricts auction tag and lottery tag holders from hunting in Unit 11 during alternate years to “Controlled Hunt Area 11” to avoid having multiple tag holders from hunting in those portions of Hunt Area 11 that fall outside Unit 11 (i.e., Units 13 and 18). Docket #13-0104-1702.   

Revise provisions for Special Needs Big Game Hunt and Disabled Veteran Special Big Game Hunt tags

  • Developed rules to establish an application period and process for awarding tags if applications exceed the number of tags available. Docket #13-0104-1701.   

Red Squirrel Reclassification

  • Reclassifies Red Squirrel from a Protected Nongame Species to an Upland Game Animal which will allow the Fish and Game Commission to set a harvest season. Docket # 13-0106-1701.  

Revise Procedures for Moose, Bighorn Sheep, and Mountain Goat Controlled Hunt Application

  • Rescinds the requirement for tag prepayment at the time of application for a moose, bighorn sheep or mountain goat controlled hunt tag because hunters will pay an increased nonrefundable controlled hunt application fee beginning with the 2018 applications. This is a temporary and proposed rule so it is effective in time to notify hunters applying for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat controlled hunts in spring, 2018. It must still be upheld by the Legislature to be effective long-term. Docket # 13-0108-1705.

Changes to Rules Governing the Taking of Big Game

  • Deletes reference to Super Hunt tag drawing for hunters that comply with Mandatory Report requirements because this has not increased compliance and makes other modifications to reflect existing procedures; streamlines the mandatory hunter orientation for a controlled archery-only hunt to reflect existing procedures; and rescinds the mandatory telephone report for successful wolf hunters, which no longer has management application. The mandatory harvest report and animal check for successful wolf hunters are not modified by the proposed rule. Docket # 13-0108-1706.

To comment on the proposed rules, please go HERE and follow instructions on how to submit comments available in each docket’s Notice of Rulemaking in the Administrative Bulletin.


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T S. - posted 2 years ago on 10-30-2017 06:56:01 pm

Concerning limiting non resident tags in unlimited controlled units, BRAVO, it's about time Idaho started catering to the resident! For unlimited controlled hunts, the first draw should be for residents only. Once they have the number of residents, then they can allocate 10 percent of that number to non residents in the second draw. 10 is the number for other controlled hunts.

Ben L. - posted 2 years ago on 10-28-2017 08:53:14 pm

"Money" not the game! Brady, you hit the nail on head when it comes to idf&g! I was an idaho resident the first 30 years of my life and use to go to idf&g meetings! It's sad, really sad. I remember one in particular that I asked them if they could give me a biological reason for a certain elk hunt they were doing in the north part of the state. The "biologist" looked at me and said "no I can't" they call a lot of the moves they make "creating opportunity". Translated that to no b.s. Form it means creating revenue.

TODD C. - posted 2 years ago on 10-28-2017 08:11:59 pm

Another state engaging in outfitter welfare so that wealthy people can buy their way to the front of the line. Idaho is quickly turning into Utah.

Ken Z. - posted 2 years ago on 10-16-2017 03:07:08 am
LaPorte, IN

I have 20+ points in many states and cringe whenever I see legislation screwing my nonresident odds, such as what Maine just did. But I’m getting older and am trying to burn points and exit their draw systems due to schemes like this Idaho proposal. I invest for decades only to see my odds plummet As states morph their draw systems into the business of selling the opportunity to NOT hunt, and outfitter welfare. Glad Idaho is one of the few states I’ve always passed on and I definitely won’t be contributing to the state’s coffers with nonrefundable tag fees. Pass!

Brady D. - posted 2 years ago on 10-15-2017 08:20:47 pm

I may be wrong, but I feel that if they get rid of the upfront tag price on the once in a lifetime hunts, and only implement a fee the odds of drawing will drastically decrease. Then there will be people who draw and realize they could not afford the price of the tag, so it will then end up on a second chance draw. This will then raise more money for F&G. I feel like that is all they truly care about “money” not the game.

charles s. - posted 2 years ago on 10-13-2017 06:21:59 am

I tried to go on the link to submit comments for rule changes. Very confusing and cumbersome process to comment or even find when "comment period" is open. I agree with Mike and hate seeing crony capitalism forcing non residents to hire outfitters, like WY wilderness area hunts. Not about safety nor wildlife benefit, just plain old rent seeking of politicians to decrease competition and increase cost for non-residents.

Mike T. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 04:47:38 pm

Regarding the reduction of non-resident unlimited tags, IDAHO DO NOT DO THIS! I am a non-resident hunter who will be affected if this new rule is approved. I LOVE hunting Idaho and enjoy spending time in the backcountry. I do not see the need to restrict the relatively small number of non-resident hunters in these few units. The few hunters taking advantage of these hunts are true sportsmen who appreciate the State of Idaho and spend their time, money, and effort to protect the rights of all to hunt and have access to wilderness areas. This rule will only limit our the access to one of the most famous wilderness areas in the U.S. (Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness) at NO benefit to the State of Idaho or the wildlife itself.

Jeremy W. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 04:41:51 pm
Perry, Georgia

I agree with you James.. Better off buying raffle tickets in all states. Truly check out your odds of winning compared to drawing. I was fortunate enough to win a Desert Big Horn Tag last year in New Mexico.

John D. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 03:21:25 pm
Lewes, DE

So I'm understanding the proposed rule correctly. They're talking about creating an outfitter only pool for controlled hunts, not general tag hunts? Don't know that I know what the "unlimited" in unlimited controlled hunt means above. Is there a limited controlled hunt?

Does their fish and game accept comment from non-residents or do they not care?

Why would Idaho and why does NM think this is a good idea. A subsidy for outfitters would not be necessary if non-residents felt their product was worth the price. If the outfitters product is worth the price then they'll have no problem filling their waitlist. Simple economics.

If this idea worked that well then Montana probably wouldn't have done away with it. I don't know what my critical # or % is, but as my odds of drawing diminish I'm more likely to not apply at all and save the $ needed to have to purchase their general hunting license first.

James F. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 12:36:19 pm

Yes you're reading it correctly. Is this effectively setting up an Outfitter pool now, similar to NM

Sean B. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 12:13:23 pm
Riverton, Utah

Do I understand right that they want to limit the number of non res tags in the unlimited draw units? So only the residents will be unlimited?

Sean B. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 12:13:19 pm
Riverton, Utah

Do I understand right that they want to limit the number of non res tags in the unlimited draw units? So only the residents will be unlimited?

Sean B. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 12:00:08 pm
Riverton, Utah

Do I understand right that they want to limit the number of non res tags in the unlimited draw units? So only the residents will be unlimited?

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 11:17:24 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

This is one I'm also very concerned with, James. I don't see this as a good move at all.

James F. - posted 2 years ago on 10-12-2017 10:49:48 am

No upfront license which was fully refunded for moose and sheep when you didn't draw but a higher non refundable fee? There goes the decent odds we had in some moose and sheep draws. Depending on the fee amount ...we might be better offer with a raffle ticket.