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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

Adjustments to elk, deer and wolf guidelines are on the table in Idaho; proposed changes in Washington are more minor

A group of cow elk and calves heads back for the hills after getting a drink in the South Fork of the Clearwater River.  (Eric Barker)
A group of cow elk and calves heads back for the hills after getting a drink in the South Fork of the Clearwater River. (Eric Barker)
By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Hunters in Idaho and Washington have opportunities to comment on each state’s proposed changes to big game hunting regulations for the 2023-24 seasons.

In Idaho, game managers are proposing changes to elk and deer hunting seasons to accomplish a number of goals, including the reduction of overcrowding, reducing harvest on underperforming herds and taking steps to address the spread of wildlife disease.

In Washington, the changes in the southeastern corner of the state are fairly minor and linked to special deer and elk hunting permits.

Idaho elk

In Unit 10A, the archery-only opportunity under the A-tag would change from any elk to bulls only and a general muzzleloader hunt would be eliminated and replaced with a 200-tag controlled hunt.

“Most of our antlerless harvest is from the A-tag, so we are proposing to change the early archery opportunity to antlered only,” said Jana Ashling, regional wildlife manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, in a YouTube video posted on the agency’s website. “In addition, there is a significant amount of female harvest during that muzzleloader opportunity. We are proposing to convert that to a controlled hunt.”

The archery opportunity for spike and antlerless elk would be eliminated from the Dworshak Zone B-tag in an effort to reduce pressure on cow elk and alleviate hunter crowding. Fish and Game is proposing to eliminate the archery component of the Palouse B-tag that allows the harvest of spike or antlerless elk from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14.

The agency is proposing a number of changes to units in the Elk City Zone. The Unit 15 A-tag early archery opportunity would change from any elk to bulls only to address declines in elk numbers.

“Based on the population being in decline, we want to eliminate cow harvest in this unit,” Ashling said.

But in units 14 and 16, the muzzleloader opportunity under the A-tag would eliminate spikes and the late season would be dropped. The early season would be extended and run from Nov. 21 to Dec. 5.

Ashling said recent surveys in Unit 14 indicate elk are doing well there. It is also the unit where chronic wasting disease is present and the department wants to reduce elk and deer densities there.

“We want to increase harvest in that core area where it was detected,” she said.

Idaho deer

The length of the white-tail deer season in Unit 11A would be shortened. The unit was hit especially hard by an epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2021.

“At this time, harvest trends do not indicate a large population decline,” wildlife biologist Kenny Randall said in a video on the agency’s website. “However, field observations and reports from sportsmen and landowners in the area, in addition to our conservation officers who patrol the unit, indicate these deer would benefit from a shorter season. It is our feeling that shortening this season will help allow deer herds affected by the EHD outbreak to recover.”

Wolf hunting on public land would be allowed all year long in units 8, 8A, 11, 11A and 13 and the start of foothold trapping season in units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14 and 16 would start on Sept. 10, one month earlier than current regulations.

“This will provide additional opportunity and address emerging wolf depredation issues,” Ashling said.

The agency isn’t proposing changes to black bear or mountain lion hunting seasons.

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