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Proposed Sage Grouse Hunting Season 2013

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By Andrew Reed

Hagerman, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Sage grouse season is just around the corner.

But, will you be able to hunt the bird this year?

That is the question most hunters are asking. Idaho wildlife officials are proposing that this year's sage grouse hunting season rules look a lot like last seasons.

"There was a hunting season last year, we do have parts of the region though that are closed down and our sage grouse conservation plan for Idaho gives us guidelines for setting hunting seasons” said Randy Smith, Idaho Fish and Game.

This year, most of the Magic Valley falls under the restricted season category.

This is a seven-day season, with a one-bird daily limit.

Steve Money and his dog Mocha are bird hunters. Last year, they hunted sage grouse.

He believes the fish and game proposal is about gathering data.

"This bird is in trouble and the numbers are going down and have been for years. The hunters are the ultimate conservationist they want to see the bird numbers back. It's in our interest to get out there and collect some data for Fish and Game and hopefully improve the habitat,” said Steve Money, bird hunter.

The sage grouse is a candidate for endangered species listing as its numbers and range have diminished across the west.

The proposed season would be September 21st through the 27th.

"Sage grouse is a long-lived species with a very low reproductive rate" said Smith.

For Money and Mocha, sage grouse season is a privilege because it only comes once a week every year.

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on these recommendations prior to the August 19th commissioners' decision.

•Restrictive: Seven-days, one-bird daily limit and a two-bird possession limit open September 21 through September 27:

-Butte, Camas, Cassia, Clark, Fremont, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lemhi, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Power and Teton counties.
-Bannock County west of Interstate 15.
-Bingham County west of Interstate 15.
-Blaine County, except within the Salmon River drainage.
-Bonneville County west of Interstate 15 and north of U.S. Highway 26.
-Custer County, except within the Salmon River drainage upstream from and including Valley Creek.
-Oneida County west of Interstate 15.
-Owyhee County west of the Bruneau River.
-Twin Falls County east of U.S. Highway 93.

•Closed:
-Eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County, which continue to be affected by the 2007 Murphy Complex Fire.
-East Idaho Uplands area in the southeastern part of the state east of Interstate 15 and south of U.S. Highway 26, because of a lack of long-term data.
-Washington County and Adams County, which have been closed to sage-grouse hunting since 1984.
-Elmore County, because of the lack of long-term data, few active leks and 2012 fires.


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