Press Release

May 2000

Fishing Season Opens May 27

Idaho's general fishing season on rivers and streams will open Saturday, May 27. The annual opener is always scheduled for the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend so anglers can take advantage of the holiday. Most lakes and reservoirs are open year around. The next fishing "event" will be Free Fishing Day June 10, when anyone can fish without a license. Even salmon anglers get a break, not needing either a license or a permit. All other rules such as limits or tackle restrictions still apply. The limit on trout is six in Idaho's general season, and on brook trout, 10 in addition to the limit on trout in any water. Exceptions to the rules or special regulations on individual waters are listed in the 2000-2001 seasons and rules brochure, available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices.

Controlled Hunt Application Deadline Near

The last day for applying for this fall's big game and turkey controlled hunts comes Wednesday, May 31. Applications postmarked May 31 are accepted. All other forms of application must be completed by close of business on that day. Hunters are applying for deer, elk, antelope, black bear and - for the first time - wild turkey controlled hunts. Hunt applications are taken at Fish and Game offices, private license vendors, by mail and at 1-800-824-3729. The company that handles credit card sales and applications charges a service fee in addition to the $6.50 nonrefundable application fee. The service fee also applies to applications made through the Fish and Game internet web site at Hunters must have a current hunting license when they apply for controlled hunts. Hunters born after January 1, 1975 must have completed Hunter Education before they can obtain a license and apply for controlled hunts. Applications will be entered into a computerized random draw system. Successful applicants will be notified by July 10.

Mountain Lion Helps Education

Contact: Sue Nass 334-2633 On Thursday morning, a mountain lion will begin a second life teaching Idaho school children about wildlife. At 9 AM, Bruce Wiegers will present a taxidermy mount of a young mountain lion to Fish and Game Commissioner Don Clower in a kindergarten class at Valley View Elementary School. In the process, the Boise man turns a somewhat tragic situation from two years ago into a positive educational experience today. It was June 13, 1998 when Wiegers discovered the big cat in his west Boise backyard. His two dogs had been barking relentlessly and when he tried to bring them into the house, the smaller dog refused to cooperate. That is when Wiegers looked up into the tree and saw the young male lion. It was his first encounter with a wild cougar and he was thrilled but concerned about pets, people and the lion itself. Moreover, several young children lived in the neighborhood, making it a safety issue. So Andy Wiegers, Bruce's wife, called 911 for help. The Ada County Sheriff's office responded to the call. For three hours, they tried to find a way to dart the animal with a drug to remove it from the neighborhood and back to the wild, but dusk had arrived and officials were reluctant to dart the mountain lion. Attempting to track the animal in the darkness would be difficult and dangerous. Suddenly, at 11:15 PM it leaped from the tree and authorities had no choice but to shoot it. It was a devastating moment for the Wiegers. Both husband and wife have a strong interest in wildlife. Bruce has designed their property to be a wildlife sanctuary, and Andy is a teacher who incorporates wildlife education in her classrooms and has also gone through Fish and Game's Project WILD program for teachers. So they sought a way to turn the death of the young lion into something positive.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Is a treble hook legal when the rules say "single barbless hook?" A. Yes, as long as it has no barbs, or the barbs have been bent completely closed.

Salmon Harvest Online

Anglers wanting a report on fishing conditions in the Clearwater or Little Salmon River chinook seasons can check it out on the Fish and Game website under "What's New." As of May 14, 251 salmon had been caught in the lower portion of the Lower Clearwater River, and 285 in the upper portion and the North Fork of the Clearwater.

TV Show Wins Awards

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, along with KTVB, was honored with two 1999 Idaho Press Club awards. Sue Nass won second place for television writing in the statewide contest with a story entitled "Sage Grouse Serenade". This segment of the May 1999 edition of Incredible Idaho highlighted the sage grouse research being conducted in the Owyhee desert and featured Biologists Jack Connelly and Tom Hemker. Tom Hadzor, Jody Tee and Sue Nass also won a third place award in the Outdoor Report category for "Deer Wrestling", a two-part story on the February 1999 edition of Incredible Idaho. It was shot near Challis and featured a research study that measures fawn survival. The deer are captured in drive nets and the action was exciting. This story featured biologists Mark Hurley, Mike Scott and Mark Armbruster. Incredible Idaho is no longer being produced, following a decision by the television station to discontinue the partnership arrangement it had with Fish and Game.

Salmon Fishing Rule Pamphlet Corrected

In the rules pamphlet for the current salmon fishing season, one stretch of river was left out. Anglers who catch a spring chinook in the segment of the Clearwater River upstream from the Orofino bridge to the confluence with the South Fork and the Middle Fork of the Clearwater should use the code "04" when they punch their tags. The "04" section was erroneously not included in the list of waters open to salmon fishing.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Can my kid apply for a controlled hunt even though she will not be 12 years old until after the application deadline? A. Yes. As soon as she completes Hunter's Education, a license can be issued so she can apply for controlled hunts. The license will specify that it is valid only on and after her birthday.

Radio Auction Best Since 1992

Idaho's wildlife habitat will receive a boost from one of the most successful radio auctions ever held with Fish and Game participation. Fish and Game teamed up with the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation May 9 for a radio auction that was heard through most of southern Idaho. The Idaho Falls area took part for the first time in the 10-year history of the annual radio auction. The auction raised $15,870, the highest since 1992 when the auction brought in about $1,000 more than that. The money will be available for wildlife habitat projects. Bidders called in to the four stations carrying the auction-KIDO in Boise, KID in Idaho Falls, KWIK in Pocatello and KLIX in Twin Falls-to buy 24 special trips. The adventures were offered by Fish and Game personnel and by private resorts and outfitters throughout Idaho.

Aren't All Chinook Endangered?

How can we fish for chinook salmon this spring when Idaho salmon are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act? A number of residents have posed this to Fish and Game since a fishing season for chinook was announced last month. The answer is that not all Idaho chinook salmon are "listed" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We fish only for "unlisted", hatchery-produced salmon and we only allow salmon fishing when there are enough adult salmon to meet hatchery and conservation needs first. The salmon we fish for are surplus to the needs of hatchery and conservation programs and cannot be used for recovery efforts. In addition, salmon fisheries must be conducted so that listed salmon are protected. We do this by limiting the time, place, and possibly the number of hatchery fish harvested. The decision whether to list Idaho's chinook salmon runs (populations) under the ESA was based on the origin of the fish and their ability to contribute to the recovery of native runs. Only the native wild chinook and some hatchery-produced chinook of native origin in the Salmon River drainage are listed as threatened (not endangered). Hatchery and naturally produced spring chinook in the Clearwater River and hatchery fish produced by the Rapid River Hatchery for the Little Salmon River fishery were not listed because they were derived from non-native stocks. Non-native stocks were used in the Clearwater because Lewiston Dam, which stood from 1923 to 1973, eliminated the wild run. The Rapid River Hatchery program was started from non-native stocks as mitigation for salmon runs eliminated by the Hells Canyon Dams. These non-native stocks are not considered essential for recovery because they are genetically and ecologically different from the native stocks. Hatchery fish, in general, even when derived from native stocks, are less able than wild fish to reproduce in the wild and contribute to self-sustaining, naturally reproducing populations.

Commission Approves Upland, Furbearer Rules

Meeting at the Andrus Wildlife Management Area May 4, the Idaho Fish and Game commission approved seasons and rules for upland game, game birds and furbearers for 2000 and 2001. The season structure for most birds remained the same as in past years, with few exceptions. Forest grouse seasons will open the first of September, and remain open through the end of the year. Seasons for quail and partridge will open the third Saturday in September. Quail will close December 31, while both chukar and gray partridge will stay open through January 15, statewide. Sage grouse season will be the same as last year, opening September 16 and with various closing dates. Sharptail grouse will run October 1-31 in all areas open to hunting. Hunters for both of these species will be required to purchase a special permit for $1.50. Sharptails have been proposed for listing as an endangered species, and a sage grouse proposal will likely be filed this year. By having a very accurate record of hunter numbers and a list of hunters to call and survey, Fish and Game will be better prepared to respond to these proposals. The pheasant season will be October 14 to December 31 in the northern two regions, October 21 to December 31 in the Southwest Region, and October 21 to November 30 in the remaining four regions. Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area will have game-farm pheasants released this fall, so the WMA pheasant permit will be required for hunting on that area. The limit is two birds per day on stocked areas, with a total of six on the WMA permit. More than one permit may be purchased. Cottontail rabbit seasons will open September 1 and close February 28, 2001. Snowshoe hare seasons will open September 1 and close March 31, 2001. Seasons on American crow will open October 31 and run through January.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I caught a trout that had a jaw tag. What do you want me to do with it? A. Fish and Game needs some information in an effort to improve the catchable rainbow trout we plant in some Idaho waters. If the tag has "$$ 10 $$" on it, you're and instant $10 winner. Otherwise, turning in the tag information places you in a drawing for $50. It is cheaper (and more fun) to reward anglers for turning in tags than to gather this information some other way. If you caught a trout with a tag, send your name, address, phone number, date and location fish was caught and the flattened tag (or just the number, if you want to keep the tag) to IDFG Fisheries Research, P.O. Box 428, Jerome, ID 83338.