Thursday, May 26, 2016
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Contrary to some reports, no extra controlled hunts have opened in the Bennett Hills - yet.
Idaho Fish and Game officials will recommend the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopt two proposed controlled hunts to assist in reducing the mule deer population in response to wild fire damage this summer and reduce depredations on adjacent croplands and stored crops.
In August, the Blair Fire burned 38,000 acres of critical mule deer winter range in the Bennett Hills, Unit 45, north of King Hill and Glenns Ferry. Fish and Game surveys have consistently shown that more than 5,000 deer have used the burned area in the past, representing about 40 percent of the wintering population in the Smoky-Bennett Population Management Unit, consisting of units 43, 44, 45, 48 and 52.
Fish and Game has proposed two controlled antlerless hunts to begin bringing the herd into balance with the existing habitat. These hunts are designed to help minimize deer crowding on remaining winter ranges, lessen deer use of private lands and roads and provide hunting opportunity.
The two proposed extra antlerless mule deer controlled hunts would offer 250 tags in each. The first would run from December 1 through 14 and the second from December 20 through 31.
The hunts would be in the portion of Unit 45 north of Interstate 84, east of the Bennett Mountain Road, and west of the Bliss-Hill City Road, excluding the Camas Creek drainage.
In addition, Fish and Game recommends adding 25 landowner appreciation tags to each of those hunts.
The Bureau of Land Management has imposed travel restrictions in the area that will affect hunters during these hunts. A map of the motorized travel closure area will be provided to all successful hunt applicants.
The commissioners will consider the proposed extra seasons during their meeting Thursday, November 10, in Coeur d'Alene.