|Wyoming Question and Answer
Wyomings fire situation continued to improve the last week due to rainy, cool weather in the western part of the state over the Labor Day weekend.
In the Teton Wilderness east of Jackson as of September 7, moose area 32 is 70 percent open and areas 14 and 15 are now 100 open. Ninety percent of elk area 70 is available to hunters.
Hunters are reminded all fire bans remain in effect on national forests, Bureau of Land Management and state lands.
Lightning storms September 5 ignited several small fires near Laramie Peak west of Wheatland and larger range fires east of Chugwater. To date, no Walk-In Areas were burned in the Chugwater fires.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, meeting in Boise on August 25, passed a rule outlawing a newly-developed "compressed air arrow." The tubular metal arrows contain a sealed chamber loaded with compressed air, which is supposed to erupt into the wound made by the arrow, making it more deadly.
The Commission, in a move to keep control of the new technology that can be developed for a primitive sport, voted unanimously to ban compressed air or gases in an arrow as an unlawful method of take. The rule applies to all hunting, not just archery-only seasons.
The arrows may already be available in Idaho, but may not be used for hunting. They reportedly cost more than $30 each.
Meeting by conference call on September 5, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to extend some general seasons and controlled hunts in areas affected by wildfire closures.
In the Selway and Middle Fork elk zones, the Commission changed the B tag antlered-only elk hunt to run from September 15 through November 30. Previously that season was set to run through September, then close during October. Fire-related area closures and damage to trails in and around the Frank Church and Selway-Bitterroot wilderness areas will impact hunters even after the fires. The extended season will allow hunters to work around those obstacles. In the Salmon Zone, hunters may use the Commission-approved Special Fire Closure Refund and Exchange Policy to either obtain a rain check for next year, a refund, or exchange their elk tag for another zone if the closures remain in effect. No changes in elk seasons are planned for the Salmon Zone.
In the Sawtooth zone there are no season changes planned. Hunters who planned to hunt the closed portion of Unit 36 may use the Commission-approved Special Fire Closure Refund and Exchange Policy to either obtain a rain check for next year, a refund, or exchange their elk tag for another zone if the closures remain in effect. Deer hunters will also be impacted by closures in wilderness areas. General-season deer hunts cannot be extended in most cases because they are immediately followed by controlled hunts. Controlled hunt number 1009 in Unit 20A, 1014 in Unit 26, and 1015 in Unit 27 have all been extended to end on November 30, matching the newly-approved closing date for elk seasons. Previously they were set to close November 18.
Ten bighorn sheep hunts with a total of 43 permits in Idaho's backcountry will be affected by area closures. The Commission has decided to extend them to give hunters the opportunity to hunt in the event that closures are lifted by land management agencies. Hunt numbers 5002, 5003, 5004, 5006, 5007, 5008, 5009 and 5010 will all close October 31. Previously they were set to close October 13. Hunts 5014 and 5015 will close November 10 rather than October 31.
Similar extensions have been approved for four mountain goat hunts with a total of 10 permittees. Hunt numbers 6004, 6005, 6006 and 6012 have all been extended to close on November 30, rather than November 12.
Moose hunters in 12 hunts with a total of 46 permits will get a week extension, with the closing date set for November 30 rather than November 23.
Hunters who are eligible to change elk zones because of a total recreation closure of their area by a land management agency can get help choosing from the Fish and Game web site.
A new page under the refund and exchange information contains a list of elk tag sales by zone. Hunters can now get an idea of how many others are heading for each zone, and choose their new location accordingly. Those who have not purchased an elk tag yet can use this page to avoid the crowds.
Seasons for chukar, gray (Hungarian) partridge, quail and sage grouse will open September 16. Forest grouse, mourning dove, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons opened September 1.
Dove season will be the first to close, September 30, and has limits of 10 daily and 20 in possession. Sharp-tailed grouse season will open October 1 in part of Eastern Idaho and run through the end of that month. Bag and possession limits in the open area are two daily and four in possession. The sage grouse season has a limit of one in areas marked "Area 2" and two in those marked "Area 3." Closing dates are different, also, so check the rule brochure. Area 1 has no open season. Chukars and gray partridge will remain open through January 15, with limits of eight daily and 16 in possession. California (valley) quail and bobwhite quail season will run through December 31, with limits of 10 daily and 20 in possession. Forest grouse season for blue, ruffed and spruce grouse will also run through December 31, with limits of four daily and eight in possession. Cottontail season will run through February 28 and snowshoe season through March 31, with limits of eight daily and 16 in possession.
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