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Law enforcement can’t enforce commercial huckleberry picking restriction

by By DAVE KRAMER–Contributing Writer
| August 11, 2022 11:55 AM

The Boundary County Sheriff’s Office does not have the authority to enforce the commercial huckleberry picking restriction, that is a charge that needs to be investigated by the Forest Service as we do not have an Idaho law pertaining to commercial picking and selling of huckleberries. What we can enforce are any violations of the Idaho code, which may include littering, threats etc. We encourage the public to notify the Forest Service of any suspected commercial huckleberry picking camps and to also notify our office of any camps where there may be violations of Idaho law.

We will have an increased presence in the forest and popular huckleberry picking locations to help keep potential problems down. The Sheriff’s Office has a back-country patrol program with the use of a dual-sport motorbike and ATV’s to more easily check some of these areas. We have a few of our volunteer Reserve Officers that assist us in these patrol checks. We have included below a press release from the Forest Service pertaining to commercial huckleberry picking.

This year has also indicated a higher-than-normal season for Grizzly Bears in the lower areas, we encourage berry pickers and those in the outdoors to be prepared with at least Bear spray and to have it readily available-not tucked away in a pack, make noise so that you don’t surprise a bear in thick bushes. Most of the time if they hear that you are there, they will leave the area.

It is huckleberry season! The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is reminding huckleberry pickers that commercial picking of huckleberries is not permitted. Picking huckleberries with the intent to sell them is considered commercial gathering.

In order to provide plentiful opportunities for recreational huckleberry picking, the forest does not issue commercial permits. Minimum fines for commercial picking start at $250, and can increase based on the severity of the offense. Recreational huckleberry pickers are encouraged to pick only what they can consume so that others may enjoy the fun of picking and the delicious taste of our state fruit.

Methods for huckleberry gathering vary widely, but pickers are strongly encouraged to hand pick their berries. This ensures that the bushes are not damaged and only ripe berries are harvested. We want our huckleberry bushes to remain healthy and productive for many years to come. Any methods that damage or destroy the bushes are illegal and may result in a fine for damaging natural resources.

Huckleberries are delicious favorites of both people and bears. Because bears love huckleberries and make them a major source of nourishment, huckleberry pickers should always carry bear spray and be bear aware when picking.

The huckleberry was designated by the Idaho Legislature in 2000 as the official state fruit. Huckleberries freeze well and can provide a very healthy addition to your diet all year long.

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