Deer and elk in Idaho’s Clearwater region have not suffered the winter losses that have plagued the Idaho Panhandle the past two years.
While Panhandle seasons have been cut back this year, the Clearwater region has expanded some deer and elk hunting opportunities.
“Except in some backcountry areas, our big-game have more room too range from the high country all the way down to the low elevations at the bottoms of rivers like the Salmon and Snake to escape hard winter conditions,” said Jay Crenshaw, Idaho Fish and Game’s regional wildlife manager in Lewiston.
No season reductions were called for this year, he said, although he said wolves may have taken a toll on elk in some units such as the Lolo zone.
“Winter surveys will help us get a bead on that for the 2010 seasons,” he said, noting that no aerial surveys were conducted on the Lolo Zone last winter.
Elk permits were increased, particularly in the Hells Canyon Zone, and controlled hunt permits were increased for muzzleloaders in Unit 11 and for bowhunters in Unit 18.
Deer are doing pretty well following a disease outbreak that decimated whitetail numbers in the Kamiah region in 2003, he said. “Densities are back to former levels in most places.”
Mule deer numbers are highest in the southern end of the region, he said.