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6:57 AM Tue, Oct. 16th

Game & Fish adopts hunt regulations

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has adopted the state's 2004-05 hunt regulations.

The Game and Fish Department expects to post them on its Web page at www.azgfd.com by Friday. The printed version of the hunt regulations should be available at license dealers around May 12.

The deadline for submitting big game hunt-permit applications for the fall hunts is June 8.

Game and Fish officials say they made a number of regulation changes this year that hunters will want to keep in mind, including:

• Hunting in the North Kaibab requires a $15 Habitat Management Stamp. Hunters can buy stamps at any license dealer; they cannot get them through the drawing. Application for Kaibab deer hunts no longer requires the additional $5 fee per person.

• Successful archery deer hunters must contact Game and Fish in person or by telephone at (866) 903-DEER (3337) within 10 days of taking a deer unless they checked the deer through a mandatory hunter checking station.

• Hunters who will be unable to hunt this season, yet wish to keep up-to-date with their bonus point accumulation without risking a draw and losing their bonus points, may now "buy" a bonus point for each bonus point species.

• Hunters may not take spotted kittens or female mountain lions accompanied by spotted kittens. Successful mountain lion hunters now must provide a pre-molar tooth from the harvested mountain lion to the Game and Fish Department.

•  The Mearns' quail bag limit will be only eight this year.

The Game and Fish Department also is reminding hunters that it purges the supplemental hunter pool annually on April 10. Interested hunters must reapply to be eligible for future population management hunts.

The Game and Fish Commission has directed the department to change the allocation formula for determining which season — general season, muzzle loader or archery — gets what share of the available hunt permit tags for deer, elk and antelope.

The allocation formula takes various things into account, including hunter success and applicant pressure. Last year, archery hunters were more successful, which means a reduction this year in the archery portion of the allocation pie.

Archery hunters asked the department to average hunter success and the other variables over time. The commission agreed to use a five-year average. That averaging will go into effect for the proposed hunt packages next year.

Following is information about available permits:

• The Game and Fish Commission set 36,325 permits for the general deer season, a decrease of 700 from last year.

The prolonged drought is resulting in the lowest deer hunting opportunity since the state started records in 1946.

• The department has set a 500-tag antlerless hunt for juniors only in Unit 12A on the Kaibab.

• Elk permits for the general seasons number 13,635, an increase of 1,160 from last year, while archery-only permits are 5,108, a reduction of 1,500 from last year. Muzzle loader permits are 1,233, an increase of 165. Juniors-only permits are 1,025, or 50 fewer permits than last year.

• The Game and Fish Commission approved the department's recommendation for 82 bighorn sheep permits, which is a 15-permit reduction from last year.