The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has reduced the number of elk tags that will be available to non-resident hunters in 1989, but increased the allotment of non-resident deer and Panhandle elk tags.
The commission, meeting Friday in Boise, also set aside 2,500 non-resident deer tags and 2,400 non-resident elk tags for sale to hunters contracting with Idaho outfitters in 1989. Both allotments were down from this year.The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will allocate 15,000 non-resident deer tags for next fall's hunting season - up 500 from 1988. The 1,815 non-resident Panhandle elk tags tags approved for 1989 are 165 more than this year's quota.
But the allotment of 11,000 regular non-resident elk tags for next year is down 665 from this year and 1,382 below the number permitted under a formula used by the Fish and Game Commission.
Tom Reinecker, chief of Fish and Game's Wildlife Bureau, said the cutback was made to help protect Idaho's population of trophy bull elk - those with five-point or larger racks of antlers - which account or about 45 percent of the elk harvested in the state.
Reinecker said bulls are most vulnerable to hunters during the early fall "bugling season," when they are trying to attract mates.
"I think the commission is a little bit concerned that in order to keep the good quality of the elk hunting we've got to be a little bit careful about harvesting too many big bulls," he said. "We do know a lot of the non-residents are early hunters."
For the same reason, as well as surveys that indicate the local population is light on large bulls, the 1989 elk hunting season in northern Idaho's Unit 12 South will open Oct. 4 rather than Sept. 15 as usual.
The allotment of non-resident deer and elk tags set aside for sale to customers of Idaho outfitters was based on the number of tags actually sold this year.
Outfitters used 2,490 of the 2,700 non-resident deer tags they were alloted in 1988, and 2,352 of the 2,700 non-resident elk tags.
Fish and Game officials said basing the new deer quota on the current year's actual sales would help eliminate a problem created when tags available to the general public sold out on March 4 but outfitters had tags for sale until the end of June.
As in previous years, any outfitter tags not sold by July 1 will be made available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis, the commission said.
Other 1989 action taken Friday by the Fish and Game Commission included:
-Formal approval of a free sturgeon fishing permit requiring anglers to submit a report to the department on their success by Jan. 15 of the following year.
-Setting of spring steelhead limits and restrictions for the season that begins Jan. 1 on the Salmon, Snake, Clearwater, Boise and Payette rivers. Included is a provision that excess adult steelhead trapped below Hells Canyon Dam will be transported and planted above Hells Canyon Dam and in the Boise River for sport harvest.
-Addition of tiger muskie to the state's list of game fish, and limiting harvest to those 30 inches or over. Tiger muskie fingerlings were planted in eastern Idaho's Mud Lake last spring. Some reportedly have reached 15 inches.