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Boise, ID


Date: September 29, 2003
Contact: Ed Mitchell
(208) 334-3700

Sage Grouse Opener Echoes Last Year's

Initial check station results from the opening of sage grouse hunting September 20 indicate no large swings in bird or hunter numbers.

Hunters did report seeing more grouse on the Big Desert north of American Falls and in the Upper Snake region. Populations in those areas had been down after large fires in recent years. Hunters said sage grouse were bunched around watering areas and were difficult to approach in their large flocks.

Harvest and hunter figures declined slightly in the Upper Snake from last year. Only a few hunters were counted as they came off the Big Desert, but they reported seeing large flocks of sage grouse and harvested about double the number of birds they did last year.

Magic Valley check stations showed about 10 percent more sage grouse hunters afield compared to last year and a 29 percent increase in birds taken. Birds per hunter went from 0.52 last year to 0.61 this year. Those numbers are well off the long-term averages, however.

Few hunters or birds were counted in the Salmon Region, making statistical comparisons impractical.

Slightly fewer hunters took to the Owyhee desert than last year and they killed fewer birds, but the birds per hunters were the same at 1.0 and the hours of hunting per bird were also the same at 5.0.

Chukar hunters at the Andrus Wildlife Management Area on the Snake River shot about the same number of birds per hunter as last year at 3.12 compared to 3.75 last year on the opener. Aerial surveys in August showed better bird numbers than last year by 10 percent.




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