Hunting

Input wanted on sage grouse

Fish and Game is seeking public input on sage-grouse hunting proposals.

Upland bird managers will present sage-grouse hunting season recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission when commissioners meet Aug. 11 in Idaho Falls.

Recommendations follow the hunting season and bag-limit guidelines as laid out in the state plan for sage grouse. The guidelines compare the current three-year running average of male sage grouse counted at leks (breeding sites) from 1996-2000 when Idaho began intensified statewide surveys.

Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations could be hunted at the “restrictive” level. The guidelines also allow the flexibility to consider local issues of concern, such as insufficient data, isolated populations or impacts of wildfire and West Nile virus.

Sage grouse are proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, primarily due to habitat loss from such things as wildfire and invasive plants like cheatgrass. Candidate species are under state management, and hunting sage grouse is legal.

Sage grouse experts have determined that carefully regulated hunting is consistent with conservation of the species, and Fish and Game closely monitors sage grouse annually to ensure hunting will not compromise the population.

The public comment period is through Aug. 2. Visit a regional Fish and Game office for specific information on sage grouse hunting, the season proposals and to provide comments. You can also learn more and provide comments at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement

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