MORE ELK TAGS AVAILABLE IN IDAHO’S WOOD RIVER VALLEY DUE TO SB1151 – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has increased the number of available Elk tags this year. There are 5,000 tags up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis in the Wood River Valley. This is a drastic change in policy for the Idaho DFG. They normally require hunters to apply for a lottery draw.

The problem with the elk population is trying to control what they eat to survive. The elk are heading into town to eat the food, which costs the state millions of dollars to maintain. The DFG wants to reduce elk numbers so there will be fewer encounters on agricultural land.  In turn, the state won’t have to financially compensate the farmers who lose crops. Idaho had to pay farmers $1 million more than last year in the Magic Valley region alone due to the amount of corn and crops eaten by elk.

Mike McDonald, the regional wildlife manager for the Magic Valley region, said the increase in cost was due to the drought last summer. Due to the low rainfall numbers, there was less for the large herds to eat. The elk were pushed to find water on irrigated farmland, which also led them to the corn.

One organic farmer in Elmore County, Don McFarland, claimed a herd of 500 elk had eaten his organic wheat and potato crop causing $1.028 million in damages; the largest amount ever claimed in DFG history. That amount was paid this year, and the legislature had an immediate response to the large payout. To prevent claims this large, Idaho Senator, Bert Brackett (R-Twin Falls), proposed this year a “cap on the amount paid on any single claim to not exceed ten percent (10%) of the annual Expendable Big Game Depredation Trust Account appropriation for that fiscal year” (Read the full Senate Bill 1151 here).

Elk are beautiful creatures, but they can wreak havoc on farmland. The payout cap seems to show the legislature will allow the DFG to issue more elk tags in Idaho in the coming years. If you want that trophy bull on your wall, Idaho may be a viable option next year. Otherwise, the state may be in danger of being overhunted soon.

What do you think of the increased tag numbers, the large payout, or SB 1151? Let us know in the comments below.

Want more elk news? Check out this article from Curtis Larsen’s recent hunt:

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