Fish and Game chooses to review previous decision about young hunters

by Kurtis Workman
Press Staff Writer

Cleaning rifles, sharpening knives, hours of target practice and scouting hikes are all activities commonly associated with preparing for hunting season, but for many avid hunters paperwork is also part of the process. Applying for controlled hunts is one way to increase the chances of getting a trophy.

This year the process was complicated by a law that only went into effect yesterday, Tuesday, July 1. The Idaho Legislature and governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a change to Idaho Fish and Game rules that allow children as young as 9 to hunt big game in the state, but the child has to be 10 years-old prior to the start of the hunting season. The new law reduces the age of first-time hunters by one year.

Confusion surrounded the new law and complicated the first controlled hunt draw because some people applied for controlled hunting permits on behalf of children that would be eligible this fall. Although the law was not in effect the roughly 1,000 9- and 10-year-olds (nine-year-old applicants were included because they will be 10 years old before the start of the actual hunting season) were included in the first draw of the year. Results of the controlled hunt draw were released by Idaho Fish and Game on Wednesday, June 25.

While over 1,000 children entered into the drawing erroneously, Fish and Game officials had decided to leave the applications in the drawing.

“Most of the children improperly entered in the drawing were part of group applications, usually from families. Rejecting those applications would have also disqualified nearly 2,500 eligible hunters attached to those application. Correcting those applications would have delayed the actual drawing by a considerable amount of time. The director decided to allow the applications to remain in the drawing because it was such a small number,” said Mike Heckler, Fish and Game spokesman.

On Friday, June 27, Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore announced the department had received public comment from hunters requesting a different solution.

“Fish and Game has received numerous phone calls and emails from hunters all over the state who feel that a different solution is necessary. With that in mind, Fish and Game is revisiting this situation to discuss whether there is a more suitable way to rectify this decision,” wrote IDFG spokesman Steve Liebanthal

According to the Idaho Fish and Game 142,668 applications were submitted for the first draw of the year with 41,205 permits being awarded. Of the over 41,000 permits 16 were awarded to 9-year-olds and 177 were given to 10-year-old hunters, meaning less than one half of one percent of the permits were issued to underage applicants.

Fish and Game officials are hoping the confusion surrounding this drawing is a singular incident.

“There was confusion because of the time between the drawing and the actual start of hunting season. We believe this is a one-time-only thing and the next draw in August will be less confusing for hunters,” said Heckler.

Heckler said even though the younger hunters were left in the drawing every one of the 193 children receiving permits have been checked.

“We have verified that every youth hunter will be of the correct age prior to the start of the hunting season,” said Heckler.

IDFG officials promised an announcement of a solution sometime this week.

“The discussion will continue during the next several days until a final plan of action is reached,” wrote Liebanthal.

A final descison by IDFG was not made prior to The Press deadline.

Results of the controlled hunt drawing can be found at the Idaho Fish and Game website Interested 10 and 11 year olds must hold a valid hunting license in order to apply for a controlled hunt. Anyone holding a Hunting Passport can purchase general season big game tags.

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