The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants to hear from the public about a proposed rule change to allow the Fish and Game Commission to designate specific unlimited controlled hunts as "first-choice only" during the controlled hunt application process.
Fish and Game has used unlimited controlled hunts to provide special hunting opportunities without restricting the number of hunters. This hunt framework is more restrictive than a general season hunt, but less restrictive than a controlled hunt with a limited number of tags. However, some unlimited controlled hunts end up having a higher-than-desirable number of hunters when too many select these hunts as a second choice in case they do not draw their first choice hunt.
Under the proposed change, the Fish and Game Commission could specify certain unlimited controlled hunts as "first-choice only." This is expected to result in fewer applicants for the specified hunts, so the number of tags could remain unlimited; any hunter who selected that hunt as their first choice would be assured of drawing a tag. The unlimited controlled hunts do not restrict nonresidents to 10 percent of the tags for the hunt, do not require hunters to sit out a year after drawing a tag and do not trigger an allocation of tags to outfitters.
Under the current rule, some unlimited controlled hunts would likely have to be converted to controlled hunts with limited numbers of tags. Controlled hunts with a limited number of tags restrict nonresidents to 10 percent of the tags, require hunters to sit out a year after drawing and would trigger an allocation of tags to outfitters.
The proposed rule change is intended to reduce the number of hunters in those unlimited controlled hunts where crowding or over-harvest are occurring, without restricting hunters who select them as their first choice. Eliminating second choice applications would likely decrease the number of hunters in these hunts, reducing the need to further restrict tag numbers. It may also improve drawing odds in some controlled hunts with a limited number of tags. Unlimited controlled hunts in which hunter numbers are not currently problematic would not be designated as first-choice only.
Details on the proposal and how to submit comments are online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/?getPage=33. Online comments will be accepted through July 23.