CONNELLY: Idaho sage grouse hunt – will the hunters be happy? | the Chronicle
In my experience, hunters tend to be very traditional, often viewing regulatory changes with some skepticism and a narrow focus on their preferences and activities and not necessarily those of other hunters or the resource. Sometimes hunters are right to be skeptical, other times they overreact.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve described recent changes to Idaho’s sage-grouse hunting regulations and the science behind them. I suspect that most hunters’ support for these new regulations may be affected by issues only indirectly related to the sage grouse hunt. Let’s take a look at some of these issues.
Most hunters are at least somewhat aware that legal advice for Idaho hunting and fishing regulations is provided in Idaho Code 36-103a stating “All Wildlife … in the State of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the State of Idaho. It must be preserved, protected, perpetuated and managed. It should only be captured or taken… in a way that preserves, protects and perpetuates this fauna… ”. The code emphasizes preservation, protection and perpetuation. Many may first judge hunting regulations on whether they meet the intent of this law.
Given the magnitude of the changes to the Sage-Grouse hunting regulations, there has been surprisingly little public awareness or participation, especially regarding how the new regulations would be more effective in conserving and manage populations against previous regulations. The Department simply issued a press release on the new Sage-Grouse tag and provided two more press releases after the new regulations were approved. The only public input to the process came at the public meeting of the IDFG Commission. This lack of frankness will likely alarm some hunters.
The revised regulations significantly increase the cost of hunting sage grouse. My calculations indicate that the cost of a father taking his two boys to hunt sage grouse has increased by over 370%. Last year, each hunter bought a Sharp-tailed Grouse or Sharp-tailed Grouse license for $ 4.75; the total cost to the father and two sons was $ 14.25. Now that same cost is $ 68.25 and they would still need a license to hunt this species if they wanted to hunt this species.
The new regulations have a substantial effect on falconers. While a falconer also enjoys hunting sage-grouse with a shotgun, the new regulations mean the hunter must choose between a gun or a hawk due to the restriction on the tags. Although falconers have a 7 month season, they can only take one sage grouse in most areas, so the length of the season does not make sense for those wishing to pursue the Greater Sage Grouse. sagebrush.
Agencies have made progress in educating hunters and others about the impacts of habitat loss for the sage grouse. In his 1981 Sage-Grouse monograph, former IDFG biologist Bob Autenrieth noted that the idea that hunting is the primary constraint on sage-grouse numbers is widespread among hunters. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these regulatory changes is that the focus on hunting undermines significant conservation issues and gives the impression of progress when, in fact, things are getting worse. The IDFG’s renewed focus on hunting may nullify habitat conservation efforts and appears to violate Idaho law requiring the preservation, protection, and perpetuation of wildlife.
I suspect most hunters would agree that a flexible harvesting system that allows a fish and wildlife agency to respond to unexpected changes is a good idea. Hunters and the general public will be more likely to support hunting regulations that they find effective in conserving the resource while providing reasonable hunting opportunities. Given the roll-out of the new regulations and in particular the agency’s minimal effort on public participation, the new sage-grouse regulations may alienate those who normally advocate the conservation of the sage-grouse. Only time will tell if hunters and the general public will be happy with the revised regulations.
Jack Connelly has lived in Bingham County for over 40 years. He is passionate about the outdoors and has hiked, camping, hunting and fishing throughout much of the United States as well as parts of Europe and Asia. Connelly worked as a biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for over 30 years. He is now enjoying his retirement with his wife Cheryl, raising chickens and bird dogs in their Blackfoot home.