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Magic Valley Proposals for 2013 Big Game Seasons

Magic Valley Region

Mule Deer
Increase general season hunting opportunity.  Change the general deer season opener from October 10 to October 5 to provide additional days of hunting opportunity, allow youth to take advantage of the teacher in-service days that occur in early October when there is no school, and to provide for hunting opportunity before the early deer migration out of the high country in Units 43, 48 and 49.
- Add additional High Quality hunting opportunity in Unit 57.
- Maintain the rotating muzzleloader hunt opportunity by moving the hunt to the eastern portion of Unit 52.
Expand archery opportunity to Unit 45 with a very limited 10 tag controlled hunt.
Improve youth drawing odds.  Drawing odds for Youth Only either-sex deer hunts in Units 47, 54, and 55 are currently about the same as the odds in the regular controlled hunts.  It is proposed to make these hunts antlered only so that a one year layout would apply between eligibility to improve odds.

Elk
Maintain low elk densities in the eastern portion of Unit 54 outside the National Forest.  Currently there is general A-tag antlerless hunting opportunity offered in “that portion of Unit 54 within Cassia County outside the National Forest System Boundary”.  The objective of this hunt is to keep elk numbers low to prevent damage to cultivated crops.  Elk numbers and hunter success are typically very low in this hunt.  It is proposed to change this general A-tag hunt to an EXTRA tag controlled hunt with enough tags that the hunt would go unfilled and that tags would be available over-the-counter in addition to the controlled hunt drawing process.
Reduce elk damage to growing crops. 
    • Unit 45 provides important winter range for elk from the Smoky and Bennett elk zones and it remains a management priority for the Department to manage winter ranges to support healthy elk numbers.  The resident (summer) herd is responsible for substantial damage to standing crops every year.  Currently there is a mix of controlled hunts and Landowner Permission Hunts in place to help address the problem.  The Department is seeking additional input or suggestions on how best to increase antlerless harvest on private property to minimize damage.
    • A new hunt and increased antlerless tags have been added in Unit 56 to reduce damage to crops and potential conflicts between elk and wintering mule deer.
- Provide additional hunting opportunity in Unit 49.  Recent surveys indicate a 32% increase in overall elk numbers and 90% increase in bulls since the last survey in 2008 allowing for additional hunting opportunity for antlered and antlerless elk.  Tags have been increased in both antlered and antlerless hunts.
Restructure hunts in Units 46/47, 54, and 55/57 to improve the hunt experience and maintain hunt quality.  Dates and hunt areas for archery, muzzleloader and any-weapon seasons have been modified to spread hunters out and provide 5 days between hunts to minimize conflicts.  The overall number of elk tags is the same as in 2012 but the tags have been allocated between weapon types (any-weapon, archery and muzzleloader) based on the demand (applications) for these hunts during the past 3 years.  This type of allocation will make drawing odds similar between any-weapon, archery and muzzleloader hunts. 

Pronghorn
- Increase hunting opportunity commensurate with increasing populations.  Pronghorn numbers in Units 44, 45, and 54 have increased substantially in recent years.  Tag levels have been increased to provide additional opportunity and reduce depredation concerns.

Black Bear
- No changes proposed.

Mountain Lion
- No changes proposed.

Gray Wolf
- No changes proposed.