Written by Lauren Conte, @LaurenConte8

Big Game-01

Chris Goyette and Lauren Conte | Scroll Illustration

Idaho Fish and Game reported an increased disturbance to restricted lands, according to Local News 8.

Human interaction and trespassing on restricted zones negatively disrupt an important stage in the yearly cycle of big-game animals, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

“The absence of human disturbance, created by the closure, allows herds of deer, elk and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring,” according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Idaho Fish and Game is reporting more snow vehicles and people on foot encroaching on restricted areas to interact with and take pictures of deer and elk, according to Local News 8.

“Vehicles found beyond barriers will receive citations,” according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Mandatory revocation of hunting licenses for one year is enforced if hunting laws are also violated, according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Gregg Losinski, Idaho Fish and Game regional conservation educator, said people harassing animals can deplete the animals of their conserved energy, according to Local News 8.

“If they’re harassed in order for them to drop their antlers or just people checking them out, that can cause them to die or not be able to give birth to their young in the spring,” Losinski said to Local News 8.

Kenadee Mildon, a freshman majoring in general studies, said restrictions in moderation leave positive impacts.

“It would be really sad if people could just, kind of go in there and hunt kind of whatever they want,” Mildon said. “I think it’s good to have some restrictions just to keep the world nice.”

Jericho Whiting, a biology department faculty member, said restricted areas are crucial for the life cycle of big game animals.

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“Restricted areas, like the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area just north of town, are closed to human access during winter, because they are extremely important to elk, deer and moose and other animals that spend the winter there,” Whiting said. “Animals on winter range have limited options as far as forage.”

Egi n-Hamer Closure and the Stinking Springs Wildlife Closure are two places that are restricted to the public and protect winter wildlife, according to Local News  8.

The Bureau of Land Management gives information on various local closures, according to the Bureau of Land Management website.

“The Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of wintering deer, elk and moose herds,” according to the BLM website. “The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, is also exempt from the closure.”

Other laws and restrictions pertaining to big game are to be followed strictly and can be found on fishandgame.idaho.gov, according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Whiting said populations of animals are highly regulated by Idaho Fish and Game, and they keep trends in population stable.

“Through scientific management, they can allow harvest of individuals and still have sustainable populations of animals,” Whiting said. “That’s why there are hunts that occur every year, and there are still consistent big game populations, because they’re scientificly managed for sustainable harvest.”

In order to maintain a positive experience for both hunters and elk, ranges are adjusted within 28 specific elk zones, according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.

“Elk populations fluctuate constantly in response to weather, prediction, land management actions, fire events, invasive species, private land use and development,” according to the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Mildon said breaking restrictions and laws for hunting in her hometown of Salmon, Idaho, has strict legal punishments.

“If there’s a rule that you may not agree with or understand, you just have to deal with it and abide by it,” Mildon said.