Press Release

January 2000

Rainbow Trout Stocking Report

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 10,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during February. LOCATION NUMBER OF TROUT Boise River (Boise) 1,000 Boise River (Eagle to Middleton) 1,000 Caldwell Pond #1 500 Caldwell Pond #2 500 Caldwell Pond #3 500 Marsing Pond 500 McDivitt Pond 300 Park Center Pond 800 Quinn's Pond 800 Riverside Pond 300 Sawyer's Pond 1,000 Veteran's Park Pond 800 Wilson Spring 600 Wilson Spring Ponds 2,000 The number of trout actually released may be altered by weather, water conditions, equipment problems or schedule changes. If delays occur, trout will be stocked when conditions become favorable.

Elk Hunter Success Rises

Despite warm, dry hunting conditions last fall, hunter success in general elk hunts was actually higher than in 1998. Many hunters complained about the weather conditions during the October elk season and game managers anticipated mediocre harvest numbers, but newly available statistics indicate better hunting than expected. Estimates based on telephone surveys of hunters have just been completed. Figures for controlled elk hunts and for deer seasons are still being compiled. Statistics from the mandatory hunter harvest report system are not yet available because hunters have been slower to file their reports than they were last year. Previous experience indicates, however, that the two different methods of estimating hunter harvest are closely comparable. The estimates for 1999 general elk seasons show more hunters taking part_82,391 compared to 80,700 in 1998_with a hunter success rate of 14.4 percent last fall versus 12.9 percent in 1998. The total estimated general elk harvest was 10,983 last fall and 10,386 in 1998. Total days spent afield by hunters was also up slightly. The survey shows a slight shift toward taking younger bulls with 39 percent being spikes versus 34.4 percent in 1998. The harvest of big bulls, six points or better, was down from 24 percent in 1998 to 20 percent last fall. The Panhandle Zone had far more hunters than any other of the 28 elk hunting zones in Idaho.

Do Something Wild

It's time to do something wild on your Idaho tax form. Idaho taxpayers can contribute to Fish and Game programs for non-game wildlife with a simple checkoff on their state tax forms. Taxpayers can either deduct the amount they donate from their tax refund or add it to tax payments. The amount donated is up to the individual taxpayer. Donations can be deducted on the 1999 tax form. Most Fish and Game funds come directly, in the form of license and tag fees from hunters and anglers, or indirectly from federal excise taxes on sporting equipment. Most non-game funding comes from the voluntary tax form checkoff, wildlife license plate purchases and direct donations. Tax checkoff funds for wildlife have fallen off severely in recent years as several other checkoff programs have been added to the tax form. When the program started in the early 1980s, it raised about $90,000 annually. The figure has stabilized around $40,000 in the last five years.

Lying Leads Directly to Jail

By Gregg Losinski Upper Snake Region Conservation Educator Monopoly is a fun board game and hunting is a wholesome sport, but lying to the judge about poaching is a dangerous game. A father and son poaching team from Sugar City broke the law and then gambled on a lie. They lost and drew the "GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL" card from the chance card stack. Early this December, after receiving reports of spotlighting on previous mornings, Senior Conservation Officers Joe Curry, John Hanson and Justin Williams headed out north of Ashton in the early morning hours. Once they arrived in the area where the previous nocturnal poaching had been reported, they set up a full-sized elk mount. Conservation officers across the nation have made such simulated wildlife a standard part of the toolbox they use to catch poachers. When problems occur, the simulated wildlife is placed in the problem area, but with a safe backstop in case a poacher shoots. In this case, the officers picked the right tool for the job. Nearly two hours before legal shooting hours, conservation officers observed Clayton Perry, 67, and David Perry, 39, of Sugar City use their vehicle headlights to illuminate the fake elk and each shoot at it. This was not the first time that the father and son team had been cited for spotlighting, or various other fish and game violations, but soon they would be graduating to a higher crime by committing perjury before a judge. Later, the two appeared in Fremont County Court before Judge Keith Walker regarding the December spotlighting citations. When asked under oath by the judge if they had previous records, both lied and replied "No." Based on these responses, the judge handed down what would have been a typical sentence.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I've heard that I can get a permit to use a spotlight hunting coyotes. What's the scoop? A. You can hunt unprotected wildlife, including coyotes, with a spotlight, but only on private property and only with permission of the landowner. A valid hunting license is required. Be sure you are not in violation of other state, county, or city laws, ordinances, rules or regulations.

Aerial Counts Take Off

Airborne biologists are busy across Idaho as weather conditions for counting big game have improved in recent days. The herds in about one-third of Idaho's 99 hunting units will be surveyed this winter. Manpower, equipment and funding constraints do not allow surveying in all units every year. However, aerial surveys have been stepped up considerably since 1998 when big game hunters started paying slightly more for their tags, money that goes mostly toward improved surveys. Fish and Game is pursuing a "pretty aggressive survey schedule through the winter," according to wildlife biologist Jon Rachael. These direct observations of wintering big game animals are compared with prior surveys of the same areas. This information will be combined with hunter harvest data to aid the department in coming up with recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission for fall hunting seasons. The pressure is on for the next few weeks as biologists hustle to develop adequate information and analysis for the Commission. Recommendations for deer and elk seasons must be completed for the March Commission meeting. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the department's ideas in February, before final recommendations are presented to the Commission. Aerial surveys were delayed this winter in most areas of the state because autumn weather continued late into the year. Animals remained scattered and a lack of snow made accurate counting difficult. After snow did fall, weather such as dense fog and stormy conditions made counting impossible for many days.

Reports Reminders Sent

About 35 percent of Idaho's big game hunters can expect a reminder from their Fish and Game Department about now. That is because those hunters have not yet sent in their mandatory hunter harvest reports yet. The report is intended to provide information that helps Fish and Game track the status of big game herds so that hunting seasons can be set responsibly. Time is running out for Fish and Game number crunchers who are required to develop accurate information on big game herds. After gathering hunter harvest report information and data from other surveys, department biologists can go to work on final recommendations for next fall's deer and elk hunting seasons. Those recommendations must be completed in time for public comment before they are presented to the Fish and Game Commission for final action in March. As of January 15, about 66 percent of elk hunters and 65 percent of deer hunters had filed their reports. At the same time last year, which was the first year for the mandatory report program, 87 percent had reported. Considerable progress has been made, however, since Christmas when fewer than 50 percent had reported. The increase corresponds to the end of late hunting seasons and hunters finding that they must complete their reports before they can buy their new hunting licenses. Those who file too late will miss their chance to purchase one of the 10 "Super Tags" which allow hunters to pick from any open hunt statewide.

Volunteers, Reservists Aid Wildlife

How many Idahoans are ready to give time, labor and materials to help fish and wildlife? One good indication is the Fish and Game volunteer and reservist program. In 1999, more than 5,000 volunteers and reservists gave about 100,000 hours of labor and more than $200,000 worth of equipment and materials toward Fish and Game programs and projects. The calculated monetary value of time and materials came to a total of well over $1 million. Volunteers and reservists participated in most phases of Fish and Game operations, serving more than 100 functions ranging from computer programming to picking up roadkill to relocating big game and birds. Many offer specialized skills and bring their own tools to do jobs that would otherwise be a large hit on the sportsman's license dollar, or might not be done at all. Materials and equipment volunteers and reservists brought with them included everything from airplanes to mules and packhorses, to tracking dogs to welders.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Hunting seasons are about done, but I would like to go out and do some plinking. What's required? A. If you're plinking tin cans or targets, you don't even need a license. But if you are walking around hunting ANY animal, you need a valid Idaho hunting license. This includes frequently-hunted unprotected species such as jackrabbits, ground squirrels and coyotes.

Stop! Do Not Pass Go! Go Directly to Jail!

ST. ANTHONY - Monopoly is a fun board game and hunting is a wholesome sport, but lying to the judge about poaching is a dangerous game. A father and son poaching team from Sugar City broke the law and then gambled on a lie. They lost and drew the "GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL" card from the chance card stack. Early this December, after receiving reports of spotlighting on previous mornings, Senior Conservation Officers Joe Curry, John Hanson and Justin William headed out north of Ashton in the early morning hours. Once they arrived in the area where the previous nocturnal poaching had been reported they set up full-sized taxidermy elk. Conservation officers across the nation have made such simulated wildlife a standard part of the toolbox they use to catch poachers. When problems occur, the simulated wildlife is placed in the problem area, but with a safe backstop in case a poacher shoots. In this case, the officers picked the right tool for the job. Nearly two hours before legal shooting hours, conservation officers observed Clayton Perry (Age 67) & David Perry (Age 39) of Sugar City use their vehicle headlights to illuminate the faux elk and each shoot at it. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that the father and son team had been cited for spotlighting, or various other fish & game violations, but soon they would be graduating to a higher crimes by committing perjury before a judge. Later, the two appeared in Fremont County Court before Judge Keith Walker regarding the December spotlighting citations. When asked under oath by the judge if they had previous records, both lied and replied "No." Based on these responses, the judge handed down what would have been a typical sentence. But shortly afterward, when the judge learned that the men had lied, they were summoned back for a sentencing review. This time when they appeared before the judge and their true histories were presented a much different sentence was handed down.

Draft Owyhee Sage Grouse Plan Available

The draft Owyhee sage grouse conservation plan is available for public review, according to state upland bird manager Tom Hemker. The plan is a product of the Owyhee Sage Grouse Local Working Group, which includes representatives of county government, Owyhee County residents and ranchers, representatives of sportsman and conservation groups, as well as representatives from state and federal government agencies. Other Local Working Groups are addressing declining sage grouse populations in other parts of Idaho. Collectively, they make up the Idaho Sage Grouse Task Force. Sage grouse populations are down in Idaho and the rest of the west, and wildlife agencies are trying to learn what is causing the decline so that it can be stopped before the birds are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Listing could bring restrictions on many activities and uses of public land. The draft plan calls for research to determine lek sites; locations of nesting, brood-rearing and wintering habitat. It also proposes improvement of habitat in locations where it may help, fire protection and improvement of habitat. The draft proposes reducing numbers of juniper trees in some sage grouse habitat; study of predator impacts and possibly predator control; evaluation of the state's hunting program and continuing research and monitoring of sage grouse. The draft plan is available at the Fish and Game headquarters office and will be on the agency web page by Jan. 14. Comments are requested by January 31.

Duck Season Closes January 15

Waterfowl hunters need to make the most of it: Saturday, January 15, is the last day of the Idaho duck season. Managers would rather set a season that runs through the last day of a weekend, but the federal framework allows only 106 days of duck hunting in Idaho. Public comments have consistently favored opening on a Saturday, and letting the closing fall where it may. Chukar and gray partridge hunters must also hang it up after January 15. The only game seasons remaining open will be for cottontail and pygmy rabbits, which closes February 28, and for snowshoe hares, which closes March 31. The cottontail season was set for a 2-year period in 1998 using the standard closing date. The fact that the "last day of February" is the twenty-ninth this year does not extend the season.