Field reports: Forest rules target over-snow vehicles

SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014

WINTER SPORTS – The public comment period for the U.S. Forest Service’s draft Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Travel Rule ends Aug. 4.  

This rule will affect all national forests, including the Idaho Panhandle and Lolo National Forests, which are favorite winter destinations for both backcountry skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.

“The proposed OSV Travel Rule is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough,” says John Latta of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance. The group has been working to sort out conflicts between snowmobilers and muscle-powered recreation near Lookout Pass, Stevens Peak and other special backcountry destinations.

 Latta said nordic skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and winter mountaineers should be weighing in to ensure the Forest Service adopts a rule “that meets its obligation to minimize the impacts of winter motorized use, and finally bring balance to the winter backcountry.”

The website for comments: 1.usa.gov/UiciFf.

Idaho discounts tags for nonresident hunts

HUNTING – The Idaho Fish and Game Commission last week reduced the price of unsold nonresident deer and elk tags to be sold as second tags.

The following discounts will be available to resident and nonresident hunters purchasing second tags in 2014.

• Second elk tags will be discounted from $415 to $299

• Second deer tags will be discounted from $300 to $199

The price does not include the $1.75 vendor fees.

Since 2000, the commission has offered any unsold tags remaining to resident and nonresident hunters as a second tag at the full nonresident price. In 2013, the release date for second tags was moved forward one month from Sept. 1 to Aug. 1.

“We restrict the number of tags available in elk zones that are performing below desired population levels,” said Jeff Gould, state wildlife manager.

“Hunting opportunity is based on biological as well as social considerations. The decision to discount the second tag price is biologically sustainable and will make it more affordable for hunters to increase their hunting options this fall.”

Second tags will mainly be used in general hunts where there are currently no restrictions on the number of deer or elk tags sold to Idaho residents in any given year. Second tags cannot be used in areas where deer or elk harvest is managed with controlled hunts and the use of second tags must fall under currently established nonresident elk zone tag limits.

For 30 years, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has maintained a statewide annual quota of 12,815 nonresident elk tags and 15,500 nonresident deer tags.  Idaho hunters purchase about 143,000 deer and 86,000 elk tags annually. Hunters purchased 964 second deer tags and 430 second elk tags in 2013. That left 5,773 deer and 4,960 nonresident elk tags unsold at the end of the year.

Oregon guide, clients fined for violations

HUNTING – Authorities say a hunting guide service run by a Bend, Oregon, man from his ranch in Wheeler County bagged animals from neighboring ranches without permission.

Wheeler County District Attorney Daniel Ousley said Wednesday that 10 people have pleaded guilty or no contest, and paid a total of more than $152,000 in fines, restitution, and forfeitures.

Charges are pending against 13 others for the taking of dozens of elk and at least nine buffalo.

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