Sportsmen upset and demanding answers about elk depredation study

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — In January, one man posted on Facebook about hundreds of elk that were killed as part of an elk depredation study and caused a lot of uproar from sportsmen in the state. Wednesday, a meeting was held discussing this issue, and many hunters are hoping for some answers.

Sportsmen, officials and representatives from Idaho Fish and Game met Wednesday evening at Rosenau Funeral Chapel to discuss concerns about a elk depredation study in 2019 that killed more than 200 elk across southern Idaho. (Source: KMVT/KSVT)

A depredation hunt is something that occurs when a particular species of wildlife is doing significant agricultural damage or poses threats to humans and other wildlife.

Idaho Fish and Game was a part of an elk depredation study from July to October of 2019 and many sportsmen are not happy about it.

"I’ve thought about this and every law in there for years, I think about this before I go to bed every single night. I want to see a change," said one man during Wednesday's meeting.

Idaho Fish and Game says that there has been an increase in elk in Idaho over the past decade, and the study was done by fish and game to understand how to prevent depredations.

"This summer we ended up through this research effort, being an opportunity to learn we used that opportunity for something we were going to have to do anyways which was try to reduce the damage caused by elk coming in at night and it was a challenge," said Craig White, from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game

They killed 208 elk throughout that study, and many sportsmen are upset saying why couldn't fish and game let hunters who already have tags go in and kill them.

"How many of those were killed by a non-fish and game employee, to the best of my knowledge none. Okay and my second question is you guys gave out thousands of extra tags this year to try to manage that, why can’t you guys give us a better range of hunting for all these tags, why can’t you extend the hunting season?" said another audience member during Wednesday's meeting at Rosenau Funeral Chapel.

Fish and Game says it was on private property and the elk were coming in at night.

"So when they are coming in at night, first of all by law there is no big game hunting at night, that’s a law," White said.

Many are upset saying that the laws need to be changed, and Fish and Game needs to be more transparent with what it is they are doing.

"If farmers and ranchers want to claim money from us, then give us access to hunt that property," said one audience member.

Sen. Lee Heider says that he would be happy to take suggestions to change the laws.

"There is nothing set in concrete in the state of Idaho," Heider said. "Those laws can be manipulated and changed from year to year, depending on what people want."

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