Idaho: 2020 – Phenomenal Legislative Session for Sportsmen and Women

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On March 20, the Idaho State Legislature adjourned sine die. As of March 27, Governor Little has enacted 4 pro-sportsmen bills (House Bill 330, 396, 426 and 493), while the remaining 3 pro-sportsmen bills (House Bill 528, 544 and 545) are currently sitting on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his signature before the signing deadline of April 2.

Enacted Pro-Sportsmen Legislation as of March 27: 

House Bill 330

As a direct result of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game working with local sportsmen to improve management and sporting community enjoyment, House Bill 330 (H330) increased non-resident hunter fees in an attempt to address resident hunter concerns surrounding the growing issue of over-crowding. Idaho is unique in the country in that it is one of the few states that is seeing an increase in hunting licenses year to year, as opposed to a nationwide trend of decreasing license sales. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter of support for H330, which was enacted on March 3. 

House Bill 396

House Bill 396 (H396), titled Shooting Ranges Fund, works to expand recreational shooting opportunities and access for Idaho’s sportsmen and women by increasing the ability of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to develop, operate, and maintain the lands, waters or conservation easements for public shooting ranges and enter into agreements with outside entities in locating new or relocating existing shooting ranges. Such ability will not only provide increased access to places where the public may engage in target shooting, training, and competition, but it will also benefit conservation throughout the state by increasing the monetary contributions from the shooting sports to the American System of Conservation Funding. H396 was enacted on March 20, and CSF submitted a formal letter of support to Governor Little. 

House Bill 426

In an effort to make minor adjustments to legislation passed in the 2019 session which updated the allocations used for guided hunting and fishing in Idaho, House Bill 426 (H426) grants the Idaho Fish and Game Commission with the authority to allocate deer and elk hunting tags for clients of outfitters in capped and controlled hunts. H426 was enacted on March 11.

House Bill 493

Many state legislatures have enacted legislation to afford senior citizens, veterans, and active duty military members special hunting and fishing opportunities and discounted fees as a means of maintaining hunter numbers, as well as to reward them for their service to the country and commitment to conservation through the American System of Conservation FundingHouse Bill 493 (H493), enacted by Governor Little on March 9, provides resident and non-resident disabled American veterans with a reduced fee archery and muzzleloader permit while still allowing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to generate license sales, a key component of the agencies’ yearly operating budget.

Pro-Sportsmen Legislation Awaiting Governor Little’s Signature as of March 27:

House Bill 528

A loophole was recently discovered in Section 36-1401 of the Idaho Code, which allowed the poaching of a single big game animal. Historically, the code had been enforced based on the proper intent, but once it was exposed that a poacher could potentially use the provisions against the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in court, House Bill 528 (H528) was subsequently introduced to close the loophole. H528 passed out of the Senate on March 17 and is currently waiting on Governor Little’s signature.

House Bill 544 & 545

Both Idaho Department of Fish and Game initiatives, House Bill 544 (H544) proposes the expansion of the upland game bird program to additional properties outside of wildlife management areas, while House Bill 545 (H545) aims to establish a season for tundra swans within the northern portion of the state. H544 would complement current state and nationwide efforts to increase hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation by offering additional upland game bird hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women throughout the state. Additionally, H545 would increase hunting opportunities within Idaho, as well as increase the monetary contributions of sportsmen and women to state conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding. H544 and 545 passed out of the Senate on March 17 and are currently waiting on Governor Littles signature. CSF formally supported both pieces of legislation. 

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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