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Idaho Sage-grouse season opens Saturday

The seven-day sage-grouse season opens Saturday, September 19, and runs through Friday, September 25, with a one-bird daily limit and a two-bird possession limit.

The season will take place in the same areas as last year’s hunt with the exception of re-opening an area in eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County.

Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in possession a valid Idaho hunting license with a sage sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $4.75.

Hunters should be aware that sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse occur in the same areas in south-central and eastern Idaho. Hunting season for these species do not overlap. The sharp-tailed grouse hunting season is October 1 to 31.

Although sage-grouse are proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, sage-grouse experts have determined that carefully regulated hunting is not a primary threat to populations. Threats to sage-grouse are largely due to habitat loss from wildfire, human infrastructure, and invasive plants like cheat grass.

Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations are stable to increasing. Fish and Game closely monitors sage-grouse annually to ensure hunting will not compromise the population. Fish and Game follows guidelines that allow the flexibility to also close areas to hunting due to low population numbers, insufficient data, or impacts of wildfire and West Nile virus.

This native grouse is widely distributed in areas with large blocks of sagebrush habitat throughout southern Idaho. Sagebrush is a crucial winter food for sage-grouse and also provides them with nesting and roosting cover during the rest of the year. Wet places, including agricultural lands, are important feeding areas for hens with chicks and are heavily used by sage-grouse during the fall in dry years.

Wings collected from harvested birds provide important biological data. Hunters who see a wing barrel are asked to deposit one wing from each bird they harvest. Fish and Game also collects wings at check stations and through a mail-in wing survey. Anyone who would like to participate in the wing envelope program, call 208-334-2920.

The Sage-grouse Seasons and Rules pamphlet, including a map of areas open to sage-grouse hunting, is available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices and website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/uplandSagegrouse.pdf.