The logjam in Iran has finally broken, and it looks like hunting will resume this season. You'll recall that the problems with hunts in Iran began in 2011 when Dr. Asghar Fazel was appointed as the new Deputy Director of the Department of Environment. (See Article 2748.) He took office just as international hunters were arriving in the country. Fazel refused to issue hunting licenses and permits directly. Instead, he directed wildlife managers in each hunting area to issue permits, which hopelessly complicated the process. Permit numbers were slashed, and a number of key hunting areas closed. Fazel's actions wreaked absolute havoc. Hunters were stuck in hotels throughout Iran hoping and waiting for fickle local officials to issue them licenses. Dozens of hunts were postponed, leaving hunters stuck in limbo, each with thousands of dollars tied up in Iran. Agents could not get funds returned. While operators were promising hunts would take place, Iranian officials began turning down visas or refusing to issue permits in 2012. (See Article 2792.)
Now all of that is supposedly being reversed. Last month, Fazel and other protectionists under him were dismissed from their positions. We heard this from Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium (540-955-0090; email@example.com). Ken Wilson of Shunneson & Wilson had also advised us that things were changing. The word is that licenses will again be handled at the federal level, and all the closed wildlife refuges will be reopened. Furthermore, enough permits will be issued to clear the backlog of hunters who have paid for Iranian hunts. The season opens in mid-October, although at least one operator is waiting until November to make sure all is in order before receiving clients.
The downside to all this, is that hunters should expect an increase in prices, especially for the rarest of the sheep. While I'm told their deposits will be applied in full to their hunts, some hunters may have to adjust their list of species or pay extra to get everything they want. Prices should be finalized within the next month or so.