PUBLIC LANDS -- Forest Service announcements that commercial huckleberry picking is illegal on Idaho Panhandle National Forests have prompted a flurry of calls to county sheriff's offices regarding violators in North Idaho.
But the counties don't have authority to pinch illegal huckleberry operations unless they're littering or breaking some other law under their jurisdiction, says Mike Meier in a release from Boundary County Emergency Services.
It is huckleberry season! The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is reminding huckleberry pickers that commercial picking of huckleberries is not permitted. Picking huckleberries with the intent to sell them is considered commercial gathering.In order to provide plentiful opportunities for recreational huckleberry, the forest does not issue commercial permits. Minimum fines for commercial picking start at $250, and can increase based on the severity of the offense. Recreational huckleberry pickers are encouraged to pick only what they can consume so that others may enjoy the fun of picking and the delicious taste of our state fruit.Methods for huckleberry gathering vary widely, but pickers are strongly encouraged to hand pick their berries. This ensures that the bushes are not damaged and only ripe berries are harvested. We want our huckleberry bushes to remain healthy and productive for many years to come! Any methods that damage or destroy the bushes are illegal and may result in a fine for damaging natural resources.Huckleberries are delicious favorites of both people and bears. Because bears love huckleberries and makethem a major source of nourishment, huckleberry pickers should always carry bear spray and be bear aware when picking.The huckleberry was designated by the Idaho Legislature in 2000 as the official state fruit. Huckleberries freeze well and can provide a very healthy addition to your diet all year long. For more information about huckleberry picking on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, please contact your local Forest Service office.