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Posted: Jul 1, 2010  12:49

Hunter Update: Bonus Points


Jim Hayden

July 01, 2010

Often, the Idaho Department Of Fish And Game is asked to consider a Bonus Point System to give hunters an advantage if they have not drawn a permit in a period of years. The Department is in the midst of discussing this issue, and there is an awful lot to it. There are a lot of questions on how a Bonus Point System works.

Here is some background that is being provided to the Commission, and some generalities to consider.

Previous Commission Review
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission have periodically considered strategies to maintain reasonable drawing odds for hunters applying for controlled hunts in Idaho. Idaho has maintained a straight random draw system with some restrictions placed on successful applicants (1-2 year wait periods) and trophy species applicants (one application/year). Over the past 15 years, several Commission workshops and presentations have focused on the merits of draw systems used by surrounding states and how each impact drawing odds and hunters.

The Nevada-style point system received the greatest support of any considered by the Commission and was further evaluated by a sample of licensed hunters participating in a random survey conducted in 2005. In January 2006, the Commission directed staff to proceed with a bonus point system contingent upon the legislature passing House Bill 523. Draft rules were prepared by staff to implement a Nevada-style bonus point system but the legislation failed.

In January 2006, the Commission directed staff to proceed with a bonus point system contingent upon the legislature passing House Bill 523 (authorizing the Commission to asses a surcharge).

Legislative Action
In 2006, the Department sponsored bonus point legislation (H523) which passed the House but died in the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee. The rationale was that the legislation gave too wide of latitude to develop the program and fee.

In 2009, the Department sponsored a resident/nonresident fee increase bill (S1141) which initially did not include bonus point authorization or the fee language. The Senate amended the department bill twice to maintain current resident fees, increase nonresident fees, and include bonus point authorization and a fee. Senate bill 1141aa.aa (nonresident fee increase bill) moved forward without amendment from the House and was signed into law (Appendix I).

IC 36-104.5(D) "The commission may by rule establish procedures relating to the application for the purchase of controlled hunt bonus or preference points by sportsmen and the fee for such application shall be as specified in section 36-416, Idaho Code."

Current Status
At the request of the Commission, department staff have developed the conceptual framework of a Nevada-style bonus point system and solicited public comment on several features of the proposed framework. The Commission will review the pros and cons of such a system, public input, and financial costs associated with implementation. These topics will be discussed in a Commission workshop on July 7 in Kellogg. The Commission will decide the following day how to proceed during their scheduled Commission meeting.

How Bonus Points Work
A Bonus Point System is a method to reward hunters who have applied for controlled hunts for several years and have not yet drawn a tag. Each year a licensed hunter participates in the system and is unsuccessful in the drawing, they will earn one point. The more years that a hunter applies for controlled hunts without drawing, the better their odds are of drawing the next year.
As you have figured, there is no free lunch. Here are some generalities for your consideration:

  • Giving a drawing advantage to one group of hunters can only be made by giving a drawing disadvantage to another group of hunters (or to themselves at a different time).

  • In a bonus point system, hunters choose to accept lower than average drawing odds for a period of years, in order to enjoy better than average drawing odds after that period.

  • In hunts with poor drawing odds, this period of lower drawing odds may be substantially longer (well beyond 10 years) than for hunts with easier drawing odds.

  • There is an exception for the first year of a Bonus Points program. Hunters who begin applying the first year of a bonus point system have a significant advantage in over those who apply for the first time in subsequent years.

  • No hunter is guaranteed to draw a permit in either a random draw or a bonus point draw.

  • The number of permits does not change. The same number of hunters draw a permit whether under the existing random draw, or under a bonus point system.

You are encouraged to think about this issue and determine if the trade-off is desirable for you. Make your thoughts known on the Fish and Game website or at the public Commission meeting in Kellogg the evening of July 7th.


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