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Idaho Commission considers bonus point system

From the Idaho Fish and Game Department

-- The Idaho Fish and Game Commission gave the go ahead May 20 to the Fish and Game Department to develop a controlled hunt bonus point system and a number of other rule changes.

A bonus point system would give an advantage to hunters, unsuccessful in a controlled hunt drawing, in subsequent future drawings. Fish and Game officials plan to present a proposal for public comment and then bring a final proposal back to the commission later this year.

The commission authorized Fish and Game to gather public opinion on a list of proposed rule changes that would:

        * Allow foothold traps to take wolves.

        * Allow hunters to take wolves as an incidental opportunity when they come to bear bait.

        * Allow depredation hunts on wolves and bears during closed seasons.

        * Extend the reporting requirements on wolves, giving hunters 72 hours to report a wolf kill, and 10 days to check      in the skull and hide with Fish and Game.

        * Allow the use of sabots in muzzleloader-only hunts.

        * Prohibit the use of radio telemetry to locate game animals - the rule would not prohibit telemetry on hunting         dogs.

        * Prohibit shooting upland game from boats.

Commissioners also approved new rules to comply with recently passed legislation that takes effect July 1, including rules to clarify waste of game; to allow 9-year-olds to apply for controlled turkey hunts; add raccoons to predatory wildlife; and to allow the live release of predator and unprotected wildlife with written landowner permission.

In other action, the commission heard an update on grizzly bear recovery. Officials estimate the grizzly bear population is expanding at about 5 percent per year. Some of those bears are coming into Idaho.

There are no active plans for reintroducing grizzlies to Idaho. But the recovery area for grizzlies is expanding into central Idaho, and west from Yellowstone National Park.

Grizzly bears are found in the Selkirk, Purcell and Cabinet mountains of northern Idaho and in eastern Idaho near Yellowstone. Individual bears also have been documented in the Bitterroot Mountains along the border with Montana. A young grizzly was mistakenly shot by a black bear hunter in 2007 in the Kelly Creek drainage in the Clearwater Region.

Idaho's grizzly bear management plan from 2002 is for a delisted Yellowstone population. But the bear remains on the federal list of endangered species.

Information on grizzlies in Idaho is available on the Fish and Game Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/grizzlies/.

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