Sales of hunting and fishing licenses are up dramatically across the country due to the pandemic and Idaho is no exception.
State officials sold nearly 62,000 more hunting and fishing licenses in Idaho through the end of October compared to 2019. Almost 640,000 total licenses and tags – including daily permits – have been sold so far.
The number of fishing licenses – whether annual or day passes – accounted for much of the growth. Fish and Game data shows the state sold 376,464 fishing licenses through Oct. 31. That’s nearly 50,000 more than were sold in all of 2019.
Combination hunting and fishing licenses performed well, too, up almost 12,000 compared to last year.
Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Roger Phillips said he hasn’t heard directly that this surge in sales is due to the pandemic.
“But I think you can kind of put two and two together when we’ve seen such a significant increase in all kinds of outdoor activities,” Phillips said.
However, there have already been some problems. Poachers killed five moose in southwest Idaho recently. Beginner hunters killed two of them, thinking they were elk and immediately reported it to wildlife authorities. A third novice hunter shot at a moose, also thinking it was an elk.
Phillips said he’s not going to judge why those incidents happened.
“But anybody should be able to differentiate between an elk and a moose if they have an elk tag in their pocket,” he said.
Sales totals aren’t immediately available, Phillips said, as the state is in the middle of swapping license vendors and deer season is still in full swing.
While demands have been strong among Idaho residents and out-of-staters alike, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently moved to rein in the number of deer and elk tags issued to non-residents in certain hunting zones. Commissioners voted Nov. 20 to limit the number of tags issued to non-residents to between 10-15% in particular zones where Idaho hunters said there has been significant crowding in recent years.
“The zone limits on nonresident elk tags will not only ensure more even distribution of nonresident elk hunters, it will also result in a reduction of over 600 elk tags sold to nonresidents in general elk hunts based on current participation rates,” said Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers increased prices for non-resident tags for the first time since 2009 to help smooth out the financial gap left by the decrease in out-of-state tag sales.