Sage grouse numbers plunge

Idaho’s sage-grouse numbers have plunged since 2015.

Idaho Fish and Game officials are asking hunters and other interested parties to review and comment on a proposed sage-grouse hunting season for 2019. Deadline to comment is Aug. 19.

Statewide, sage-grouse lek counts indicate a 25 percent decline in males at leks in spring 2019, compared to 2018. Data indicates that most sage grouse populations can be hunted at the “Restrictive” level, as defined in the 2006 Conservation Plan for the greater sage grouse in Idaho. However, Fish and Game data also calls for caution in some areas north of the Snake River and in part of Owyhee County.

2019 hunting season proposals include:

  • The sage-grouse hunting season would open on Sept. 21 and 22 for the two-day season and Sept. 21 to 27 for the seven-day season.
  • Close northwest Owyhee County, northwest of the Mud Flat Road (Area 1 in Owyhee County). Birds in this area were impacted by the 2015 Soda Fire. Part of this area was closed in 2018, but wildlife managers are proposing to expand the area in 2019 due to population declines outside the fire boundary.
  • Restrictive seven-day season, one-bird daily limit, for the remainder of Owyhee County (southeast of the Mud Flat Road) and all areas south and west of Interstate 84 (Area 2).
  • A two-day season, one-bird daily limit, for most areas north of the Snake River (Area 3). Fish and Game would maintain the closure in the Upper Snake region that was closed last year due to the Grassy Ridge Fire and other declines (Area 1 in eastern Idaho).
  • Southeast Idaho would remain closed as it has since 2014 (Area 1).

To see a map of area proposals, comment and get more information see the 2019 Sage-Grouse Season Scoping Proposal or learn more about sage-grouse conservation and management