Idaho Weighs Sportsmen-Related Bills
Bills affecting fish, wildlife and recreation already are surfacing for introduction in the Idaho Legislature.
Measures endorsed by the Idaho Fish and Game department include:
Increasing resident hunting fee increases.
Revoking licenses of hunters or anglers who do not depart private property after instructed to do so by the owner or the owner’s agent.
Requiring permits to feed big game, a bill aimed at stopping recreational feeding that attracts big game to subdivisions and other problem locations.
Measures that might be introduced by legislators include:
Offering wildlife license plates, by Sen. Gary Schroeder, Moscow.
Lowering non-resident deer and elk tag fees for relatives of Idahoans, by Sen. Dean Cameron, Rupert.
Authorizing a stamp allowing anglers to use two rods at one time, by Rep. Golden Linford of Rexburg.
Directing the first $100,000 of Fish and Game fine money to be returned to Fish and Game for investment in hunter education and shooting ranges, by Rep. Frank Bruneel of Lewiston. Currently, fines are distributed 2.5 percent to the state treasurer, 10 percent to the search and rescue account, 22.5 percent to the district court fund and 65 percent to the public school fund.
Eliminating two classes of free permits, those for disabled people and seniors over 70, by the Idaho Wildlife Federation. More federal funding would be distributed to Idaho if all licenses carried a minimal fee, the federation said.
Allowing public access to lists of successful controlled hunt permittees so guides could solicit clientele, by the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.
More cougars taken
A relaxed quota helped hunters in southeastern Idaho kill twice as many mountain lions during the 1997-98 season as the season before.
The age distribution of the 44 cats taken this season was fairly even, indicating the population is probably stable.
“This year, from a biological standpoint, it appears things are just fine,” Fish and Game biologist Daryl Meints said.
The season closed Dec. 29 after hunters met a harvest quota of six females in the region’s eastern units and seven females in the western ones.
The commission last spring eased the quota to 39 cougars, an increase from 22 during 1996-97 and 16 taken in the 1995-96 season.
Commissioners did that partly in response to complaints by several ranchers and hunters that the improved cat population was hammering local deer and livestock.
Twenty-nine percent of the cougars taken were kittens through 3 years old, 29 percent were 4-6 years and 32 percent were 7 years or older.
If a significant decline in older cats would have been tallied, such as 10 percent or less, it would have indicated an overharvest and a need to adjust next year’s take, Meints said.
Forest access discussed
Public meetings have been scheduled to discuss issues involving access to the Idaho Panhandle National Forests near Bonners Ferry.
Road closures, trail restrictions, snowmobile access and reasons for seasonal management of forest roads will be discussed, officials said.
“I deal with access issues more than anything else in my job,” said Elaine Zieroth, district ranger in Bonners Ferry. “I hear a lot of anger and frustration from people about not being able to drive everywhere or hike everywhere they used to.”
Half the roads in the Bonners Ferry Ranger District have some type of restriction because of rare species concerns, water quality issues and funding, she said.
The meetings begin at 7 p.m. in Bonners Ferry as follows:
Monday, Boundary County Extension Office, to discuss roads and trails west of the Kootenai River.
Feb. 17, Mount Hall School, to discuss roads and trails north of Highway 2 and west of the Kootenai River.
Feb. 24, Forest Service office, to discuss roads and trails south of Highway 2 and west of the Kootenai River.
Info: (208) 267-5561.