July 1, the beginning of Idaho's Fiscal Year 2015, also meant a new law going into effect allowing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to issue big game hunting licenses to 10-year-olds. Previous legislation stated that 10- and 11-year-olds could only hunt small game with adult supervision. Effective FY 2015, they're able to shoot wolves, bears and elk after completing a hunter safety course. A youth license costs $7.25 for the season.
But Fish and Game got tangled in a technical snafu when more than 1,000 youngsters entered IDFG's 2015 controlled hunting drawing before the rules had changed, making their entries ineligible.
When IDFG began issuing more than 300 coveted tags to the kids, veteran hunters from across the state flooded the IDFG office with phone calls, emails and complaints, causing the director of Fish and Game to take a second look at the decision.
Director Virgil Moore has released his solution in an open letter, letting the decision stand. But to appease the angry hunters, he's offered 283 more special control tags to be drawn for deer, elk and antelope hunts.
"While I may have been shortsighted in the original decision, I stand by these kids, their parents and their excitement, in allowing them to proceed with their first hunting opportunity for big game using these permits," Moore wrote in the letter. "I simply cannot bring myself to disappoint them given the confusion about this issue."
He also offered an apology to the kids who didn't apply to the controlled hunt permit drawing because of unclear direction from his department.
"I owe an apology to about 1,500 age 9, 10 and 11 youth (and their parents) for a decision that runs counter to their abiding our guidance. I deeply regret that I have disappointed you. I will be sending a letter to each with a gift certificate of sufficient value for the control hunt application fees for the second control hunt or other tags and licensees. You are justified in being upset with me in this decision and I accept that criticism."