Press Release

June 2000

Extra Fish For Regional Waters

A surplus of hatchery steelhead was recently planted into several Idaho reservoirs. Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) hatchery personnel at Niagara Springs produced an excess of A-run steelhead this year. The Niagara Springs hatchery, on the Snake River south of Wendell, is an Idaho Power Company mitigation hatchery. Idaho Power has a mitigation goal of 400,000 pounds of steelhead smolts per year at this hatchery; this is the second time since 1991 that goal has been exceeded. | The National Marine Fisheries Service has placed a limit on the number of hatchery steelhead that can be released into the Snake and Salmon Rivers by IDFG. Surplus fish must be stocked out into lakes and reservoirs. These fish were about nine inches long when planted the latter part of May. All fish had the adipose fin clipped, so anglers will know they have caught a steelhead. These fish are considered as "resident rainbow trout" so a steelhead tag is not required to fish for them or have them in possession. They must, however, be counted as any other trout in the daily bag limit of six fish. Regional waters where these fish were stocked include Oakley Reservoir (13,260 fish), Salmon Falls Reservoir (13,200), and Roseworth Reservoir (9,900). Steelhead smolts were also planted in Mountain Home, Cascade, and Arrowrock Reservoirs. The Department thanks Idaho Power for allowing these extra fish to be stocked in these waters and provide more angling opportunity for area fishermen.

Don't Be A Wildlife Kidnapper

Each year at about this time, Fish and Game offices are flooded with calls from citizens who, with the best of intentions, have captured newborn wild animals and wonder what to do with them. The callers generally do not understand that they have already consigned the baby critters to an unhappy fate. They also fail to consider that they are in violation of the law by possessing wildlife. As more Idahoans build their homes along natural waterways, wild ducks and geese are forced to use artificially landscaped yards for nesting. Residents often worry about newly-hatched ducklings and capture the easily-caught babies, separating them from the mother hens. Chances of survival of the ducklings are not good after that happens. If there is a way for humans to clear a safe path to the nearest river or pond for the new waterfowl family, that can be a valuable service. There is virtually no other way to help the waterfowl. In most cases, the adult duck knows best. They almost always know where to find water. (In one amusing recent call to a Fish and Game office, the homeowner was frantic because baby ducks hatched on her property had immediately taken to the backyard swimming pool and she was afraid they would drown.) Deer, elk and antelope fawns also attract the concern of many uninformed humans when they are found "abandoned" in the wilds. Too many of them end up in tragic circumstances because they are picked up and brought to civilization. The mothers of these species protect their newborns by hiding them from predators and spending most of the day some distance from the young where they draw the attention of predators away from the babies. This method of protecting newborns has evolved over millions of years andconsidering the relative abundance of deer, elk and antelopeÑmust work.

Commissioners Reappointed

Governor Dirk Kempthorne has reappointed two Fish and Game Commission members whose four-year terms had expired. John Burns of Carmen, commissioner for the Salmon Region, and Dr. Fred Wood of Burley, the Magic Valley Region commissioner, have each served one term. They were appointed by former Governor Phil Batt. Burns is the current chairman of the Commission. Governor Kempthorne has now appointed six of the seven commissioners.

Audit of Fish and Game Licensing Contract Released

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, and the Department of Fish and Game, on June 12 reviewed results of an audit by the state Office of Performance Evaluation of the agency's automated licensing system. The audit was presented at a meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee. While critical of the original method of acquisition of the licensing system, the audit team found the current contract "largely adequate." The initial contract, signed with GTECH in 1995, was determined to not be in compliance with state purchasing rules. An Attorney General's opinion disagrees with that and further legal analysis is being done. "Although neither the Commission nor I were involved in the original purchase, the important point that comes from this report," said Fish and Game Director Rod Sando, "is that there is no suggestion of improper payments or monetary loss to Idaho sportsmen." The Commission and Director agreed that a more thorough review of the payment process and documentation was needed, and would be implemented. The audit found that in most instances, only one person reviewed the GTECH billings, and the invoices often did not contain enough documentation to validate the amount paid. Auditors suggested a more defined system of purchase orders, receipts verifying delivery of services, and approval by the proper authority. Fish and Game will address these practices, according to Sando.

Ask Fish and Game

Q.Where are the crawfish in Idaho? A. Crawfish or crayfish or crawdads are found throughout Idaho. We have identified at least 4 species of the Genus Pacifastacus that are found from small higher elevation streams to lowland lakes and the Snake River as it flows out of Idaho. If you want to catch crayfish legally in Idaho, you need a valid fishing license, or be young enough not to require one. They are typically caught in a minnow or crayfish trap that is baited with some food for them to eat. Horses don't fit well into the traps, so chicken gizzards or fish parts are commonly used as bait. All traps must have a tag bearing the owner's name and address. It is legal to fish with up to 5 traps no larger than 18" x 12" x 12" (see page 7 of the 2000-2001 fishing rules for more information). Crayfish are found in the Boise area rivers. Places that have abundant crayfish (the Snake River and impoundments from Idaho Falls to Hells Canyon) also have commercial fishing allowed after the purchase of the appropriate fishing license. The crayfish market is very poor, however, and only one person has purchased a commercial license this year. C.J. Strike and Hells Canyon reservoirs have been the most popular places over the last 10 years to catch crayfish.

Commission to Meet July 13, 14

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet at the Mountain Village Lodge in Stanley beginning at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, July 13. There will be a public hearing at the Community Building at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 12. The Commission expects to decide whether an observer with a hound hunting party needs to have a hunting license. It will also consider the release of bighorn sheep tags for lottery and auction.

South Fork Salmon Chinook Season Possible

Summer chinook fishing on the famed South Fork of the Salmon River appears to be a possibility. Fish and Game biologists are busily tracking the beginning of the summer chinook run for clues as to whether there will be enough surplus hatchery summer chinook salmon returning to the South Fork of the Salmon River (SFSR) this year to offer a sport fishery. The most recent chinook season held in this drainage was in 1997. The SFSR is an important natural chinook production area where listed natural-origin fish are returning to the drainage. Similar to the current spring chinook fisheries, if a fishery is held, only adipose fin-clipped hatchery fish may be harvested and all other chinook salmon must be released. Official counts of summer chinook began at Bonneville Dam on June 1 and counts of summer chinook will start at Lower Granite Dam on June 18. However, some hatchery summer chinook bound for the SFSR are known to have already crossed Lower Granite Dam, based on detection at the dam of a unique tag that they carry. The preseason forecast for the adult, upriver summer chinook run entering the Columbia River is 33,300. The forecast for Lower Granite Dam is 5,800 summer chinook adults, of which 4,300 would be hatchery-origin. The majority of these fish are expected to return to the South Fork. Department staff will make their recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission in a conference call on June 20. If the runsize will support a fishery, the staff fishery recommendation will also include the following key elements for angler consideration:
  • Open the season fishery on June 30. It will run until further notice or August 4, whichever comes first;
  • Fishery area on mainstem South Fork Salmon River would be from a posted boundary near the weir (one to two hundred yards) downstream to Goat Creek;
  • Fishery open seven days a week;
  • Fishing hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (MDT);
  • Barbless hook only;

Wildlife is Plentiful in Idaho

Wildlife is plentiful in Idaho. In the past 25 years, popular and easily recognized wildlife species including elk, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, the bald eagle and others have increased in number. Opportunities for enjoyment by hunters, wildlife photographers and artists, and "wildlife watchers" are numerous. Awareness and concern for wildlife resources have never been greater. This concern is often translated into efforts to assist injured, "abandoned", or "orphaned" wildlife. This goodwill effort carries many responsibilities and problems most people are unaware of and unable to manage properly. Carefully evaluate each situation before you step in. In the spring and early summer when wildlife reproduction is at its peak, you may have the good fortune to observe a nest of birds or a litter of young mammals with no adult in sight. Enjoy the sight. If nothing else appears to be amiss, leave things alone. Many species of animals are raised by one adult which at that moment is away from its young in search of the offspring's next meal. In the case of mammals, foraging for themselves so they can nurse their young. Wildlife parents are very devoted to the care of their young and rarely abandon them (abandonment usually occurs through injury to the parent). However, they cannot be in two places at once so it isn't unusual for young to be alone several times a day. Never assume abandonment has occurred! Standing watch over a deer fawn, elk calf or duckling tends to keep the parents away, even though they may be nearby. I've had fawns brought in by people who said, "I watched it from my porch all day, and the doe never came back." Without realizing it, their presence on the porch may have been enough to keep the doe away. Often, the presence of dogs in the area will keep a wild mother from returning to care for her young.

Hunter Education Class Registration Scheduled

Prospective hunters have one more opportunity to register and complete a hunter education or bowhunter education class prior to fall 2000 hunting seasons. On Wednesday, July 12, Nampa/Caldwell area hunter education class registration will be held at Fish & Game's Southwest Region office, 3101 S. Powerline Road in Nampa. Register for classes between the hours of 12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m. On Thursday, July 13, Boise/Meridian area hunter education class registration will be held at the Hunter Education Center, 109 W. 44th Street in Garden City. Register for classes between the hours of 12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m. By state law, persons born after December 31, 1974 must attend and successfully complete a hunter education course before purchasing an Idaho hunting license. Anyone may take a course but only persons eleven years of age or older can receive certification. Hunter education course fees are $8.00 per person. "For registration purposes, we'll need a social security number and the eight dollar fee for every person desiring to take a class," Fish and Game hunter education technician Jim Lancaster said. "Parents do not need to bring their children to the registration. In fact, if you're tied up that day, and simply can't make it to registration, ask a friend who might be coming down to register for you." Although not required, parents are encouraged to attend classes with their children and participate in the entire program. For more information, contact the Fish and Game Southwest Region office, 465-8465.

Firearm Safety Clinic Slated

Firearms-related accidents are a tragedy whenever and wherever they occur. An upcoming firearm safety clinic will address this issue head-on by teaching youngsters how to properly handle and use firearms. The free event will be held June 24 at Black's Creek Public Rifle Range, located east of Boise on Black's Creek Road, from 8:30am to 5:00pm. One hundred percent preventable, gun accidents are nearly always the result of improper handling by inexperienced people. "The goal of the clinic is to prevent firearm-related accidents from occurring," Idaho Hunter Education Association member and clinic organizer John Rydman noted. "We have found that when youngsters properly handle and respect firearms, the risk of an accident is greatly diminished." Youngsters eight years of age and older, together with their parents, are the safety clinic's focus, but Rydman invites everyone to attend and learn more about firearms and their use. The Association will provide eye and ear protection, firearms, ammunition and targets for the event. After learning proper firearm handling techniques, participants will have the opportunity to target shoot under the watchful eye of Association members. The Association's efforts are much appreciated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "Members of the Association are providing a great community service," Fish and Game regional educator Evin Oneale said. "Youngsters discover that firearms are neither play toys nor something to be feared. Rather, they learn respect for firearms and their proper use. There's no telling how many firearm-related accidents this event, and others like it, will prevent." For more information regarding the firearm safety clinic, contact John Rydman at 362-5759.

Free Fishing Day June 10

Don't forget, Saturday is Free Fishing Day. Idaho anglers, resident and nonresident alike, can fish on June 10 without paying for a fishing license on Saturday, June 10. Free Fishing Day is an annual tradition in Idaho and most other states that take part in National Fishing Week (June 3-11). Forty-six states have at least one free fishing day this year. With the general trout season beginning on Memorial Day weekend, nearly all Idaho waters will be legally open for fishing by Free Fishing Day. Though a fishing license is not required for either residents or nonresidents, all rules and creel limits apply as printed in the current fishing rules booklet. Those interested in trying the spring chinook salmon seasons on the Little Salmon, Lochsa, Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater rivers will not need a salmon permit on Free Fishing Day. The general rules booklet, and the salmon brochure, are available at more than 400 private license vendors in Idaho and at Fish and Game offices. Special fishing clinics and other activities sponsored by Fish and Game in cooperation with sporting organizations and businesses are planned in some regions. Activities vary by region; details may be announced by Fish and Game regional offices. This year is the 21st annual "National Fishing Week" celebration of our nation's recreational fishing heritage. Tens of thousands of volunteers help to organize more than 2,000 family-fishing events across the country. Every year, more than 500,000 people are estimated to participate in fishing-related activities. National Fishing Week is organized by the nonprofit National Fishing Week Steering Committee.

Commission Approves Rule Changes

Meeting by conference call June 1, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved several rule changes which were proposed at its May meeting. Public comment was accepted in the interim. All commissioners were present except Dr. Fred Wood, from the Magic Valley Region. All the changes are effective immediately unless otherwise noted. The commission approved eliminating the October 31 cutoff date for purchase of archery and muzzleloader permits. The permits were supported by sportsman organizations to try to keep inexperienced hunters from buying a new weapon and heading out for a late hunt. They have become unneeded because of the requirement for archery education and the elk zone tag system. The commission approved a proposal to allow residents to purchase unsold nonresident deer or elk tags at nonresident prices, and use them as an additional tag. The start date for these sales will be September 1. Last year 2,954 of these tags were unsold. Also approved was a motion to allow a bear or mountain lion to be taken by the holder of a valid nonresident deer tag. The deer season must be open in the area, as well as the bear or lion season, whichever applies. The "daily bag limit" on big game was clarified as the number of valid tags in possession of the hunter; and the season bag limit as the number of valid tags purchased. Previously the limits had been one per day and one per year, but the multiple-tag scenario now possible called for the changes. The commission also prohibited all electronic devices attached to or incorporated within any firearm used for hunting. This extends the ban which has applied to archery equipment to other weapons used for hunting and will maintain traditional methods.