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August 22, 2013

Smoky Mountain Zone elk hunts affected by fires

   Hunters should be aware that roughly 70 percent of the Smoky Mountain Zone - game management units 43, 44 and 48 - is closed due to several large wildfires burning in the Magic Valley Region.

   The archery A-tag season for elk in the Smoky Mountain Zone begins Aug. 30. Hunters may exchange Smoky Mountain Zone elk tags for another zone at any Idaho Fish and Game office before Aug. 30.

   Other hunts affected by the closure area include a controlled deer hunt in Unit 44 that opens on Sept. 15, and controlled bull elk hunts that open Sept. 25. Several additional hunts open in October. Fish and Game will continue to monitor access restrictions and fire boundaries in those areas as those hunts draw nearer.

   Fish and Game has a number of options for hunters whose hunting access is severely restricted by wildfires or closures, including exchanging controlled hunt tags for general season tags, rain checks for the following year, and in some cases refunds.

   As fire and closure boundaries change, Fish and Game will determine which of these options are appropriate to different hunts and will publicize those options at least 10 days before the hunts' opening date.

   For more information about upcoming hunts, contact the Fish and Game Magic Valley office at 208-324-4359.

   Hunters, anglers and other backcountry travelers are advised to check with U.S. Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out. For fire updates go to: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/.

   For additional fire information check the Hunt Planner Map Center at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/mapcenter/, and at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/maps/realtime/fire/.