The Billings Gazette in Montana just wrapped up a four-part series on the struggle for public hunting access on and across private land, and it’s similar to what's happening in Idaho.
There’s a classic clash between private property and public wildlife, and it doesn’t bode well for the average hunter, or the future of hunting.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Access Yes program was partially modeled after Montana's successful "Block Management" program, which pays landowners for public access. But Montana and Idaho are facing the same problem – outfitters, private clubs and wealthy hunters are willing to pay landowners more than F&G can afford to maintain public access.
Idaho is different than Montana because we have a greater ratio of public to private land. But Idaho hunters are also seeing more no trespassing signs every year, and large landowners like Potlatch, which is the state’s biggest private landowner, are starting to charge access fees.
It all adds up to more money to hunt private lands or more competition on public lands.
It also points to an interesting paradox. Hunter numbers are slowly declining, but competition for game seems to be more fierce and expensive.
Check out the whole Billings Gazette series at http://www.billingsgazette.net/h/blogs/outdoors/?page_id=1016