The Idaho Fish and Game Association (IDFG) approved, on November 20, changes to nonresident tag number availability for general season deer and elk hunts. This change comes into effect after rising concerns from resident hunters over hunter congestion in some areas. Starting in 2021, nonresident hunters will be limited to 10 to 15 percent participation in a given unit, a number based off the average hunter participation over the last 5 years. The new limits will not apply to capped elk zones.
Statewide quotas for deer and elk in Idaho have remained the same for nearly 30 years. However, with a statewide cap, it was impossible to manage nonresident hunting pressure on a unit by unit or zone by zone case. This ultimately resulted in heavy amounts of hunting pressure and degrading hunting quality in a number of areas.
From IDFG Direct Ed Schriever, “Hunter crowding is a growing concern among many deer and elk hunters in Idaho. Prior to broader conversations related to the future of deer and elk hunting in Idaho, the Commission thought it important to first ensure that nonresident participation levels were addressed.” He continued, “We heard our resident hunters, and took a careful and thoughtful approach to developing this plan to manage nonresident participation in deer and elk hunts at a finer scale.”
“The zone limits on nonresident elk tags will not only ensure more even distribution of nonresident elk hunters, but it will also result in a reduction of over 600 elk tags sold to nonresidents in general elk hunts based on current participation rates. Nonresident A tags in some elk zones will be reduced by more than 50 percent.” Schriever said. “In concert, these actions address localized issues of hunter congestion and allow Fish and Game to maintain existing revenues that are critical to fish and wildlife management, without placing that burden on our resident hunters. At the same time, our nonresident prices remain competitive with neighboring states. This was a complex issue that required striking a good balance, and that’s what the Commission has done.”
2021 nonresident deer and elk tags will go on sale beginning December 1, 2020 starting at 10 a.m MST. As a change this year, tags for the popular Sawtooth Elk Zone will also go on sale on December 1. Typically tags for the Sawtooth zone are sold in early May.
There will be separate limits for elk A and elk B tags as well as regular and whitetailed deer tags. Before purchasing a license, hunters will need to know which unit and tag they would prefer for deer or what zone and what tag they would want for elk. If the statewide quota for nonresident tags is not sold by August 1, 2021 the remaining tags will be sold as second tags for residents or nonresidents, but at nonresident prcies.
With general tags selling out in record time for the 2020 season hunters can expect a potentially chaotic situation when it comes to purchasing tags for the upcoming season, although time will tell. Idaho recently updated their licensing system and INSIDERs are encouraged to login to their profile to review their information.
Elk Zones with A/B tags, and most deer units with regular or whitetail tags where current nonresident participation exceeds 15 percent of total hunters, will be reduced to 15 percent nonresidents
Zones and units currently with 10 to 14 percent nonresidents will be reduced to 10 percent nonresidents
Zones and units currently with less than 10 percent nonresident participation can not exceed 10 percent
Twelve backcountry deer units with low hunter participation will be limited to the current level of nonresidents