Commission orders fewer moose tags

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(Photo courtesy IDAHO FISH & GAME) The Idaho Fish & Game Commission order on Jan. 24 that fewer moose tags in the Panhandle to safeguard the regional population of ungulates.

SANDPOINT — There will be a steep decrease in moose hunting opportunities in the Panhandle in order to protect regional population, according to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game.

Statewide, there will be 634 moose tags, 560 of which are antlered tags, available each year during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That’s 109 fewer antlered and 62 fewer antlerless tags from the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Fish & Game said.

The majority of the statewide reduction in antlered tags — 88 percent — will come from the Panhandle region, which decreased from 290 tags in the 2017-’18 seasons to 194 rags in the 2019-’20 seasons, according to a new rule adopted by the Idaho Fish & Game Commission on Jan. 24. The commission further ruled to eliminate antlerless hunts in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions for the time being.

The reductions in the Panhandle were recommended because of declines in harvest success, according to a Hollie Miayasaki, a wildlife staff biologist with Fish & Game.

Although the state was making gains in improving aerial survey techniques, wildlife managers said a lack of moose population surveys was creating a “serious handicap” in managing moose and discerning impacts of changes made in game management units, according to a 2017 Fish & Game moose survey and inventory. As a result tag levels were being set conservatively.

“Anecdotal information and low hunting success suggest that moose population within the northern Panhandle GMUs are decreasing,” the report said.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for hunter feedback on the 2019-20 big game season during open houses this month in the Panhandle. There is an open house on Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Ponderay Events Center. It runs from 5-7 p.m.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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