Press Release

July 2000

Sockeye Return Could Be 100

Idaho's sockeye salmon captive breeding program may pay off this year with the return of at least 100 of the endangered fish.

Fisheries research biologist Paul Kline said more than 300 adult sockeye produced in Fish and Game's captive broodstock program had been counted passing Lower Granite Dam, the last dam in the sockeyes' journey back to Idaho. At least 100 sockeye should reach their traditional spawning area in the Sawtooth Valley. In 1991, Idaho began a rare captive broodstock program after the sockeye was placed on the federal endangered species list.

As of July 31, 40 adults had reached the Sawtooth Valley where they were trapped at Redfish Lake Creek or the Sawtooth Hatchery. At Lower Granite, a few fish were still passing, but the bulk of the run appeared to be over. Biologists expected this year's run to be early by about a week, so were not surprised by the fishes' timing.

In the 10-year history of the program, a 100-fish return seems enormous compared to the years when one or no sockeye came home from the Pacific.

Biologists had a hint that this year's run would be much better when seven jacks showed up at the Sawtooth Hatchery last year. This year's run over Lower Granite Dam is the largest since 1977.

In 1998, an estimated 143,000 sockeye salmon smolts left the Sawtooth Valley en route to the ocean. The fish returning this year are from that outmigrant group. That year, 81,000 yearling smolts were released into the Upper Salmon River and into Redfish Lake Creek to head immediately downstream. Another 60,000 smolts migrated from Redfish, Alturas, and Pettit Lakes where they had been planted in 1997 as sub-yearlings. About 2,000 wild or natural smolts, most of which came from adult or eyed-egg plants to Redfish Lake, also headed downriver in 1998.

Bighorn Tag Lottery Nets Disease Research Dollars

Bighorn sheep disease research received a shot in the arm with this year's bighorn tag lottery.

South Bend, Indiana hunter Rick Ferrara bought the right ticket this year. Fish and Game Director Rod Sando drew the winner July 26 in a brief ceremony attended by officers of the Idaho Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS). Idaho FNAWS members sell lottery tickets throughout the year for this annual drawing that entitles the winner to hunt a bighorn in any of this year's open sheep hunts in Idaho. Second and third place tickets are also drawn in case a winner is disqualified or otherwise unable to use the tag. The second pick was a Boise man while the third came from Pennsylvania.

Idaho FNAWS sold about 6,500 tickets to raise some $55,000 this year. The chapter can retain up to 25 percent of the money to fund administrative costs such as printing tickets and promoting the lottery.

Proceeds of the lottery go toward research into bighorn diseases done at the wildlife health laboratory in Caldwell. Idaho's work in wild sheep diseases--an effort involving Fish and Game researchers and university scientists with funding help from FNAWS--is aimed at new knowledge about problems with wildlife health that have frustrated sheep advocates for years. This pioneering research may one day be applied to bighorn populations across the west.

Director Sando and Fish and Game veterinarian Mark Drew thanked the Idaho FNAWS chapter for its commitment to the bighorn program. The chapter has raised more than $200,000 in research money through the tag lottery.

Teachers Take Wild Knowledge Back to Classrooms

Teachers from all across Idaho will take more knowledge of Idaho's wildlife with them when they return to the classroom this fall.

Project WILD II, an advanced program offered by Fish and Game for school teachers who have already taken Project WILD courses, recently concluded after teachers had the opportunity for "hands-on" experience with salmon migration.

"I have this awe and this energy now," Meridian Middle School teacher Lesley Cantrell said. "I am going to be able to share that with my students and I think that teachers have to take that passion and relay it back to their students and maybe get that passion going with them." Cantrell is a certified 'WILD' teacherÉ someone who has completed a one-credit graduate course called Project WILD and then signed up for more, including the weeklong camping workshop called Project WILD II. The group of 40 teachers worked at the South Fork of the Salmon River fish trap. There, they helped hatchery managers sort, measure, weigh, and release spring chinook salmon. The wild and hatchery salmon migrated 900 miles from the ocean back to the stream where they were raised in order to spawn.

"What we do is look at all different species and try to get into hands on as much as we possibly can. And children really are the beneficiaries because they are the ones who learn about wildlife and the appreciation of it," John Gahl, Fish and Game education coordinator, said.

The concept of Project WILD began here in the West and has expanded to all 50 states. Idaho is the only state in the U.S. with a second course, Project WILD II.

Ask Fish and Game

Q.What's the process for reporting big game harvest this year?

A. A. When you buy a deer tag or an elk tag, the license machine will print out a report form. Fill it out and mail it in within ten days of harvest only if you are successful. There is no supertag drawing with this hunting season and reporting method.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Report

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 33,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during August.

LOCATION NUMBER OF TROUT

Boise River (Boise) 6,000

Boise River (Eagle to Middleton) 6,000

Boise River, Middle Fork (Atlanta) 1,000

Boise River, Middle Fork (Lower) 2,000

Boise River, North Fork 3,000

Bull Trout Lake 2,200

Bull Trout Lake #1 250

Bull Trout Lake #2 250

Bull Trout Lake #3 250

Crooked River 1,000

Grimes Creek 500

Josephus Lake 500

Martin Lake 1,500

Mores Creek 500

Payette River, Middle Fork 2,000

Silver Creek 2,000

Ten-mile Pond (Lowman) 1,500

Wilson Spring 500

Wilson Spring Ponds 2,500

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.

Potential Loss Of Winter Range To Fire Prompts IDFG To Ban Campfires On All Department Administered

IDAHO FALLS- The increasing danger of wildfires, coupled with the recent burning of over 1,000 acres of critical deer winter range near Ririe Reservoir, has prompted local IDFG Officials to institute an immediate ban on all campfires on all lands administered in the Upper Snake Region, including all Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's) and access sites. This order supplements an existing Stage 1 Restriction put into place by Federal and State land management agencies on July 17.

Current weather conditions have tinder box conditions across the intermountain West. While lightening strikes are the leading cause of wildfires, human activities such as campfires, fireworks and off-road vehicles cause a significant amount of problems. The cause of the recent fire near Blacktail Boat Ramp on Ririe Reservoir is still under investigation, but it is likely that it was caused by human activities.

IDFG operates its wildlife management areas primarily to provide habitat for wildlife, but human activities such as hunting, fishing, and camping are allowed at other times of the year. According to Regional Habitat Manager Steve Schmidt, "Given the current fire conditions, Regional Supervisor Don Wright met with his habitat staff to determine the most proactive course of action possible to help prevent loss of key wildlife habitat to fire."

Areas that provide winter habitat to deer, elk, moose, and sage grouse are of real concern to IDFG. According to Schmidt, "People also need to remember to do as little off-road driving as possible and check under vehicles for dry vegetation that could be ignited by a hot exhaust system." Under Stage I restrictions cigarette smoking is restricted to inside of vehicles while on lands covered by the order.

In addition to these restrictions and precautions, outdoor recreationalists should also be sure to have a shovel, folding bucket and fire extinguisher in their vehicles.

Upland Bird, Dove, Furbearer Rules Available

The 2000 and 2001 proclamation covering upland game birds, mourning doves, furbearers, falconry, sandhill cranes and other species is now available.

The proclamation booklet is available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors. A PDF format version is available on the Fish and Game web site at for reading or downloading.

Dove hunters should note that, for the first time, dove hunting rules are included in this booklet rather than in a separate publication.

The booklet covers all upland game birds hunted in Idaho, mourning doves, furbearers, including new rules on otter trapping, rabbits and hares, crows, predators, unprotected species and falconry. Also included are rules on controlled hunts for sandhill cranes and September Canada goose seasons.

Timing of rulemaking procedures and a change in printing contracts has allowed the combining of all these subjects into one bookletwhich saved some sportsman's moneyand publication of the upland game bird rules much earlier than the late August date of previous years.

Hells Canyon Initiative Continues

One of the luckiest hunters in America will win a chance at an Idaho bighorn later this month and help in a small way to fund a unique wildlife initiative.

Idaho offers two bighorn tags each year outside the controlled hunt drawing process. One of the tags goes to the winner of a lottery; the other is sold at auction. The Idaho Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) handles the sales of lottery tickets; the auction tag is sold at the national FNAWS convention. Proceeds of the lottery tag help support Fish and Game's wildlife health lab while money from the auction tag goes toward the Hells Canyon Initiative. In 1945 the only bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon were haunting images pecked into the rocks by ancient hunters. Hells Canyon, the biggest U.S. wild sheep range south of Alaska, could have 2,000 Rocky Mountain bighorns by 2007.

Fish and Game, with its partners in the Hells Canyon Initiative, is committed to bringing back abundant herds of bighorns to this areatwice as big as Yellowstonethat includes more than 1.3 million acres of prime wild sheep habitat. The Hells Canyon Initiative began in 1997 with the signing of a memorandum of agreement by the states of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and FNAWS.

Since then, 95 bighorn sheep have been released into Hells Canyon from Canada in three transplants. These sheep have subsequently produced more than 70 lambs. Two new thriving herds have been established and existing herds supplemented. Additional transplants will help reach the goal of restoring bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon.

The initiative also seeks solutions to persistent disease problems that plague bighorn sheep throughout North America. Disease limits the innate ability of bighorn sheep to become plentiful in many areas. Hells Canyon serves as a natural laboratory to address factors limiting bighorn sheep.

Lots of Tags Left in Southwest Youth Hunt

Lots of deer tags are left in the multi-units youth deer hunt in Southwest Idaho, according to Fish and Game spokesman Jack Trueblood. "There were 1,395 permits available for this controlled hunt as of July 14. It offers a great opportunity for deer hunters to help their kids learn and encourage them to hunt." The controlled hunt, number 1081, includes all of game management units 19A, 20A, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32A, 33, 34, 35 and 38.

Some license vendors have reported that hunters were reluctant to purchase the leftover permits because they thought the entire youth hunt was limited to "short range" weapons. "That's not the case," Trueblood said. "The short-range restriction only applies to Unit 38, here in the Boise Valley. The rest of the units are Ôany weapon.' The seasons in the youth hunt can open as early as October 5 and run as late as October 31, as long as the general deer season is open in the unit they are hunting. This matches the young hunters up with the times when their parents or mentors would be out hunting."

Youngsters can take either a buck or a doe in this hunt, which gives them a greater chance of harvesting a deer early in their hunting career. To qualify, a person must have been age 15 or younger on January 1, 2000. The costs include $6.50 for the controlled hunt application fee and $6.50 for the permit, plus the $9.75 cost of a youth deer tag. Permits are available at license vendors statewide.

Hound Hunting Rules Changed

Meeting in Stanley July 13, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission changed the rules for hound hunting, making it possible to accompany a hunter without having to have a hunting license. The change is effective immediately. Previously, anyone who accompanied a hunter using hounds was required to have a hunting license.

Commissioner Don Clower of Meridian proposed the change saying the rule did not make sense because " someone walks along with me while my two pointers hunt pheasants, they don't need a license. Why should someone walking along with me while my hounds hunt a bear need a license?" The commission voted unanimously to approve the change.

A hound hunter permit is required for the person controlling the hounds or anyone who harvests a bear or mountain lion that was pursued by hounds. Clients of licensed outfitters who have a hound hunting permit are not required to have a separate permit. There is a quota on nonresident hound hunter permits and the year 2000 permits are already sold. There is no quota on resident permits.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I drew on a controlled hunt. Is there a deadline for picking up my permit and tag?

A. No, you can pick it up anytime up until the hunt closes, at any license vendor. It will cost $6.50 for the permit, plus the cost of the tag. If you already have a general-season tag, you will need to exchange it for the controlled hunt tag. For an exchange, you must go to (or mail your tag to) a Fish and Game office. There IS a deadline for this of August 29 or the general season opening. See pages six, seven and 15 of the 2000 big game rules.

Salvage Fish From Fish Creek Reservoir!

In a recent decision, the IDAHO FISH AND GAME Commission has removed the limit restrictions on all fish in Fish Creek Reservoir in Blaine County. Effective immediately, there is no limit on the number of fish anglers may take from Fish Creek Reservoir proper, Fish Creek below the reservoir dam, and Lava Lake.

The Fish Creek Irrigation District has notified the Department of Fish and Game (Department) that Fish Creek Reservoir will likely be drained this year for irrigation purposes. Also, it has been determined that Lava Lake in Blaine County will probably go dry resulting in a fish loss. It is highly likely that all trout in these waters and in the creek below the dam will be lost. Past attempts to salvage fish from the reservoir have not been successful. Therefore, the Department would like fishermen to take advantage of this and catch as many fish as they can for their personal recreation and use.

Although there will be no limits on the number of fish taken, and no size restrictions, the usual methods of fishing with rod and reel are still required. A fishing license is required, and a two-pole permit if more than one fishing outfit is used.

This policy will remain in effect until December 31, 2000. For questions or comments, please contact the Magic Valley Fish and Game office at 324-4359, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.