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The Game Trail

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Photo by Jay Mock Photo by Jay Mock

New regs for 2010

Happy Spring! It came early this year, but I have yet to hear a complaint from anybody, including the critters. Spring is the time of year when Fish and Game commissioners meet and set the regulations for the upcoming year. I always get quite a few phone calls from folks asking when the new regulations booklet will be coming out. The regulations will be out at license vendors in mid-April, but here is a peek at what’s new state wide.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted big game seasons during March for 2010 with few changes. New this year were caps on some elk tags, allowing youth hunters to hunt in both A and B tag elk hunts. Commissioners adopted the new seasons as proposed, except they opted to drop senior hunts in units 31, 40 and 41.

A new Lolo zone A tag cap will result in a 6.5 percent reduction, and a B tag cap will result in a 14 percent reduction from the average annual sales. The second year of the phased-in Sawtooth zone A and B tag caps will increase the cap there to 75 percent of the proposed reduction for both. Smoky Mountain A tag cap will result in a 10 percent reduction and the Salmon zone B tag cap will mean a 19.8 percent reduction. Elk population surveys show nine elk zone are above management objectives, 13 are meeting objectives and seven are below objectives.

Good mule deer survival this year will translate into more permits in some hunts. Nearly all adult females survived, and biologists expect fawn survival to be at least 70 percent. These are the best survival rates since close monitoring of survival began in 1998.

Commissioners approved a proposal to allow electronic calls to hunt black bears and mountain lions in the Lolo and Selway elk management zones. They also extended the mountain lion season to June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and increased the bag limit to two lions in the Lolo zone.

Commissioners also approved changes to three pronghorn controlled hunts in the Magic Valley. Hunts in units 40, 41 and 42, in 45 and 52, and in 46 and 47 will be split into controlled hunts from August 15 through 30 and adding new unlimited controlled hunts from September 10 through 24.

As always, new regulations and new season dates are highlighted in yellow in the regulations.

Here are a few reminders before getting out and enjoying some fishing or spring hunting seasons. Most importantly, please buy the appropriate license, tags, and permits for your activity. If you don’t think that you have the money for a license, you surely can’t afford a citation.  River and Stream Fishing does not open until the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, which lands on May 29 this year. However, Lightning Creek, Pack River, Grouse Creek, and the Clark Fork River are open right now.  Remember it is illegal to harvest Cutthroat Trout on the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille, so please correctly identify your fish.  If you do hook a cutthroat or bull trout and they swallow the hook, don’t try to remove the hook. Leave it in and simply cut the line, the fish will be in much better shape than the result of yanking on the hook.

Turkey hunters, please be respectful of private property. There are a lot of folks in the county who would love for you to remove a few turkeys from their property; ask permission and respect the land. Also, with the turkey population increasing and the number of turkey hunters rising there is an increased potential for accidents in the field. Two hunters stalking the same turkey can be unaware of each other’s presence so we must be cognizant of one of firearm’s golden rules; be aware of your backdrop. Additionally, the use of decoys has increased also, enticing a hunter to “stalk” your decoy; again please be aware of your backdrop before you pull the trigger.

Bear hunters should have a pretty good year with a lot of accessible country due to low snow pack. Please purchase a bait permit if you plan on hunting over bait, and remember no baiting in Unit 1. Also, take an extra few minutes to watch the bear’s behavior before you pull the trigger. Is it a sow with cubs? Could it be a Grizzly bear? These are important questions to ask yourself before the bullet travels down range because it is the hunter’s responsibility to take the time to make the accurate and ethical decision.

Anyone with ideas on how the Department can improve fishing opportunities or interested in the rule change process is encouraged to attend our public meetings. Biologists will present information on the efforts to simplify the seasons and rules, discuss potential changes, and be available to provide information on local fisheries. Get involved folks, this is your resource. The meeting will be on April 8 in Sandpoint at the Panhandle Health District Office (1020 Michigan St.) at 7 pm.

I bet I don’t need to remind you to get the kids out of the house for some good ole’ outdoor fun, they’re probably banging the door down.

Leave No Child Inside.

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Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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