Sunday, September 13, 2009
According to News Release: 096-09: nearly 800 individuals tuned in on Friday September 11th, to watch The Game Commission's first ever Webcast of a public drawing for bobcat and elk licenses.
The drawings were to start at 10:00, but I was late returning from a photography session and didn't get online until about 10:30. As a result I didn't learn what official was conducting the drawings, but he was an effective speaker and kept the proceedings moving as best as could be expected. The most time consuming process was displaying the names of those who were awarded the 1,780 bobcat permits.
Executive Director, Carl Roe stated (in the news release) that, "the drawings for the 59 elk licenses seemed to go smoothly". Each winner's name and hometown was briefly displayed along with the information as to whether it was a bull or cow tag and the hunt zone to which the hunter was assigned.
59 tags were issued at the drawing, while one bull tag was auctioned off earlier for $28,000. This money is to be used for habitat development and maintenance in the elk range. This year the tag was awarded to The National Wild Turkey Federation. The agency intends to auction another tag next year, but according to the official it has not been decided which organization will receive it.
According to the press release, state law forbids the publication of the successful applicants names, so interested persons can check on the status of their application after September 16th, by clicking the appropriate links on the agency's website. Previously applicants had to either attend the drawings, call the PGC, or wait until they received a notification letter. (information on the exact steps is included in the news release)
The official conducting the drawing gave several statistics. 1. The elk herd has increased in the Winslow Hill and Pottersdale areas, 2. 45 licenses were issued for the November 2008 season, and 40 hunters were successful, 3. There was a 94% success rate on antlered elk in the 2008 season.
The above data does not include the ten licenses, which were issued for the September early hunt in Zone 1 and resulted in the harvest of two elk. The September hunt was discontinued after last year.
All in all the Webcast seems like a good idea. The viewing screen is small with a resulting lack of fine detail, but it does allow interested persons to observe the proceedings without traveling long distances and missing other important obligations.
If I understand The 2009-10 Hunting Digest correctly, there are two bull licenses allocated for Hunt Zone 2 and 2 for Hunt Zone 8, which are the zones that most directly impact the viewing areas. For the last several years zones 1,2,3, and 10 were combined and zones 7 and 8 were combined, which made it technically possible for up to 12 bulls to be taken in relative proximity to the major tourists areas. These zones are apparently no longer combined this year, which means 4 bulls may be taken instead of the 12 possible last year, or it will be 5 if the winner of the auction tag decides to hunt in one of these areas.
This reduction shifts some of the focus from the animals that are more accustomed to humans and frequent the tourist areas. While many bulls do travel long distances to Winslow Hill during the rut, and return after it is over, quite a few do remain in the area. As a result the above policy change does improve the chances for mature bull survival, but it is not as good as a somewhat larger no hunt zone, or a population control only hunt zone