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Hunt Outfitter Update

Allocated Tag Designations


*Before diving in, it is worth emphasizing here that our IOGLB Board members give their own time and significant energies in service to the industry, all of us. There is and should be absolutely no doubt of their nor the staff's and counsel's integrity, intentions, and commitment to their duty and this industry. They are faced with complicated issues and difficult decisions, but unlike the outfitters and guides they serve, they must also factor their role and the interests of the state/agency in their decision making.  We are incredibly lucky to have the board members that we do.*


The IOGLB Board met on April 12 to finish the allocated tag designation process for those limited hunts for which the number of allocated tags was changed by the Fish and Game Commission last September. The staff sent out email notifications that day to all affected Outfitters.

Soon after, several outfitters contacted IOGA requesting help in understanding their tag designation numbers. This led to us to look at the formula(s) that the IOGLB had used to determine the designated allocated tag numbers.


 

The Issue

The way in which the Licensing Board determined to apply the designation formula resulted in some Outfitters receiving fewer designated allocated tags after recalculation than they used and reported after the 2021 season.
 
  • Elk Zones in which Outfitter designated tag numbers were less than their use of designated tags in 2021 include:
    • Panhandle A,
    • Palouse A,
    • McCall A & B,
    • Lemhi A,
    • Pioneer A,
    • Island Park A, and
    • Palisades A                     …for a total of 55 tags.
 
  • Deer Units in which Outfitter designated tag numbers were less than their use of designated tags in 2021 include:
    • Unit 4 WTD,
    • Unit 6, Unit 12, and
    • Unit 20                              ...for a total of 17 tags.

The Problem is that this conflicts with a first principle of the allocation law, that is: 

  • Unless there is a reduction in tag numbers, outfitters that use their designated tags will maintain that designated tag number as they move forward. (i.e., absent a reduction in the number of tags allocated for use by the outfitted public in a given hunt, tags are to be designated, first, according to an outfitter's use of the tags previously designated to their operation). 
 
*

Here is the language from statute that addresses this first step:

 

(a) Designate allocated tags using a formula that prioritizes an individual outfitting operation's use, including the transfer of allocated tags previously designated to it;

 

*

The rule which was used to designate tags is as follows:

  • 04. Use of Previously Designated Allocated Tags. For established capped or controlled hunts, allocated tags will first be designated to each outfitting operation in an amount equal to the outfitting operation’s use of the allocated tags previously designated to it for the same hunt. (11-17-21)
    • a. In a capped hunt, the use of previously designated allocated tags is the average use of allocated tags in the preceding two (2) years. (11-17-21)

 

The rule (a.) was interpreted to mean “...the average use of [designated] allocated tags." 

During calendar year 2020, no tag designation existed for all outfitters in the newly limited hunts. Moreover, [non-designated] historic outfitted tag use from 2020 was not recognized/included in the first step of the designation formula,  as this historic [tag] use was not the use of designated tags.

Without any designated tag use data for 2020 (because there were no designated tags in 2020 for these hunts) the Board decided to use the numerical value of zero (0) for all 2020 outfitted designated tag use. The result being that every outfitter's average allocated designated tag use number in step 1 of the designation formula was cut in half. 

This is not the intent of the rule, which was not developed to deal with a recalculation after only one year of tag designation.

Nor is this the intent of law, which directs that the Board "designate allocated tags using a formula that prioritizes an individual outfitting operation's use, including the transfer of allocated tags previously designated to it. Again, no tags were designated in these hunts in 2020, but by inputting the value of Zero (0) in place of such in the designation formula, the use of tags designated in 2021 is not prioritized, but halved. 

Ultimately, it would seem that the Board decided on the outlined approach as the most cautious alternative, and as a result some Outfitters were designated fewer allocated tags than they used in 2021. 
 



Importance?

The application of this use of the rules governing tag designation puts an undue hardship on those outfitters who have been counting on the Allocation Law to prioritize the use of their designated tags in order to have those tags available to them in the future. The total estimated value of the hunts associated with those ~70+ designated tags in question is in the ballpark of $350,000.

If the Fish & Game Commission allocates tags for all the newly limited hunts for the 2023/2024 seasons at their July Commission meeting, then IOGLB will again be designating tags for the two following years using the same formula and data. Should the Board apply the designation formula as they have just done with regard to the aforementioned hunts, some Outfitters will again face losing allocated tags that they have historically used and would otherwise stand to be designated. 
 



How can Outfitters who have lost designated tag numbers address this problem?

IOGA has brought the issue to the IOGA Allocation Committee, who recommended to staff that IOGA primarily serve to inform our members about the issue, what their options are for addressing it, and helping provide the information and resources for them to do so.   

1. Outfitters have the option of getting together with the other outfitters in a given hunt to decide among themselves how the tag numbers in their hunt should be divided (who should receive how many). This stipulation agreement can be recognized by the Board and so designated.

2. Outfitters may object to the outcome of the designation numbers as provided for in the letter from IOGLB. (The letter carries an April 8, 2022 date, but the Board approval happened on April 12th. We think the clock started then.)  

3. Outfitters may also petition the Board (a) to rescind the designation orders, (b) for variance from the specific [part of] rule in question (IDAPA 24.35.01 057.04.a), and (c) to recalculate and designate tags for the hunts in question. Below is a link to a draft template for a request for variance from rule (we are not lawyers and this is neither legal advice nor a professionally drafted document. We are providing this template at the request of a number of members. )  Rule Variance Request Template

 

The Board meets April 26 to consider the next steps.

Follow this link for the OGLB Calendar of Events page: https://elitepublic.oglb.idaho.gov/OGLBCalendar/Default.aspx 

Rules, Rules, and More Rules!

The IOGA Board of Directors met in Salmon two weeks ago to consider changes to all of the IOGLB’s rules. This two day discussion is the lead-off to providing Outfitter input into the proposed changes in rules. What rule do you think should be changed, added, or deleted?

Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board Rules
The Licensing Board will be holding special meetings of the Board, as well as listening sessions, regarding potential/proposed changes to the OGLB rules in the coming months. Stay tuned and check your email for updates on dates and locations. 

IDFG Rules
The Fish and Game Department has started negotiated rulemaking for allocated tags.

This rulemaking balances outfitting industry and other economic and social interests in the Commission’s allocation of deer and elk tags for sale to outfitted hunters when the Commission sets tag limits for a zone, unit, or hunt area with a history of outfitted hunter use.

Under consideration are rule changes related to allocation of general hunt deer or elk tags for a zone/unit with tag limits for nonresidents but unlimited for resident tags: 

  • Define an initial tag use number, based on verified outfitted hunter tag use history, which will remain the same for the zone/unit for subsequent consecutive years in which tag limits apply.
  • Allocate, annually or for a two-year period, a number of deer or elk general hunt tags reserved for outfitted hunters in each zone/unit corresponding to the initial tag use number, before the Commission adopts annual or biennial tag nonresident tag limits for the zone/unit. 
  • Subtract the initial tag use number from the nonresident tag limit set for the zone/unit, after which the Commission may allocate an additional portion (not to exceed 50%) of tags remaining in the nonresident limit for outfitted hunter use based on verified tag use history in the two years preceding allocation. 
  • Make tags remaining after the allocation(s) for outfitted hunters available to nonresidents.

If you are interested in participating, check out this link:  https://idfg.idaho.gov/about/rulemaking 

IOGA will be there to express the support and concerns of the industry.

Thanks for reading and responding to your email!

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