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Idaho increases big-game permits in wake of devastating wildfires

Washington and Idaho wildfire crews have plenty to do in 2015. (Associated Press)
Washington and Idaho wildfire crews have plenty to do in 2015. (Associated Press)

HUNTING -- Faced with the possibility of big-game dying from winterkill in the wake of devastating wildfires through winter range, a slug of doe and cow tags are being offered for southeastern Idaho starting Thursday.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering a special November deer and elk hunting season east of Idaho Falls after the Henry’s Creek Fire burned most of the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Fish and Game commissioners approve 500 antlerless deer tags and 500 antlerless elk tags to be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Thursday morning, a news release said.

he special deer season will run Nov. 10 to Nov. 30, with the elk season running Nov. 17 to Nov. 30. Maps of the hunting areas — units 69-1X and 66-1X — are available online.

The 53,000-acre Henry’s Creek Fire burned about 75 percent of Tex Creek, which serves as crucial range for some 3,500 elk, 5,000 mule deer and 100 moose each winter.

The extra hunting tags are being offered because Tex Creek will be able to sustain fewer animals this winter. The department said it also is prepared to offer emergency winter feeding of the animals after hunting season.

Officials said the combination of hunting and feeding was the best way to “reduce over-winter mortality, allow winter range vegetation to recover, and reduce damage to nearby private land.”

“There was public support for a multifaceted approach, including increasing the harvest of deer and elk before winter,” Fish and Game’s Upper Snake Region Supervisor Jim White said.

Tags for the hunts are considered “extra” tags, so hunters who already bought a tag can purchase another. Tags are available at Fish and Game offices, businesses that sell licenses and tags, and by phone with a credit card, at 800-554-8685. No tags are sold online.

Officials said the hunts will overlap with the last 20 days of an existing buck hunt that runs Oct. 10 to Nov. 30. Hunters with those 20 tags can request rain checks usable in the 2017 season due to additional hunters participating this year.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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