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Idaho: The Forefront of Elk Population Management?

Where is elk population management most successful?

You're alone in the crisp air of the Idaho back country. The frost of the early morning breaks with each step you take. The tromping and slashing of a mature bull elk ripping through the forest is all you hear. The magnificent full-bodied creature steps out. You can see his breath in the cold mountain air and the rippling of his large muscular legs set against cascading mountain peaks. You draw back your bow and try to calm yourself as your heart pumps blood at an unprecedented rate. You breathe out and shoot.

Consider a world where that opportunity does not exist. Seems silly, yet, had there not been an outcry from the hunting community in the early 20th Century, that just might be the case.

Thankfully, states like Idaho are continually re-adapting and revising their game management plans to provide us these hunting opportunities.

Game management and it's implementation continues to be instrumental to the success of hunters and the health of nature. Without the progression of game management and conservation plans like Idaho's, hunters would quite possibly be looking at empty fields, or no fields at all. Since commercial hunting led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon, it is a safe bet to say that we have learned our lesson.

We now have a flourishing system of government and private agencies working together, with hunters, to make sound investments in the sustainability of nature as a means of preserving our hunting heritage and the wild places our game inhabits.

Recently, Idaho Fish and Game put together a proposal to help preserve their elk population of around 107,000.  The previous plan put in place in 1999 had been instrumental in building the current population but needs updating to provide a more relevant plan that addresses the state's current elk population needs.

The previous system implemented in 1999 utilized a tag system that was "successful in redistributing hunters...providing greater management flexibility," according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Yet, "new issues have emerged" since the plans inception in 1999.


  • A Declining Backcountry Population

  • Increase of Wolves and predator impacts

  • The Decline of elk habitat and

  • Elk in agricultural areas

The revised plan sets out to address all of these issues. The goal is to work bilaterally across state, federal and private agencies to put a plan into action that addresses all of the aforementioned concerns. This comes amidst Idaho's new big game hunting age being lowered. The goal is "to be responsive to elk hunter desires and expectations, and maintain biologically sustainable elk populations."

Based on what we know, is Idaho now on the forefront of progressive hunting regulations, game management, and conservation planning?

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Idaho: The Forefront of Elk Population Management?