Press Release

August 2000

Ask Fish and Game

Q. There's a fire in the area I hunt. Is Fish and Game going to close the hunt? A. Fish and Game has not, and does not plan to, close any hunts because of fire. If a land management agency closes access to everyone because of extreme fire danger in an area, Fish and Game will support that decision. Right now, there is no complete elk zone or controlled hunt which has been burned. You may have to move your traditional camp or hunt area to another location within the zone or hunt area for which your tag is good. Deer hunters shouldn't worry because their tags are good in multiple units. To get the latest information on fires in Idaho, look under "What's New" on the Fish and Game website: http://www.state.id.us/fishgame/firepage.htm.

Fire and Wildlife

As the number of acres burned by wildfires adds up, many people wonder what will be left when the smoke finally clears and the last embers burn out. Charred stumps and ashen landscapes appear to be devastated, incapable of recovery and unable to support wildlife populations. Unless the fire is unusually intense, wildfires do not leave the situation as bleak as it first appears. Fire has been part of Idaho's landscape ever since there has been vegetation to burn. Our plants and animals have adapted to the changes brought by wildfire. Fire begins a sequence of events in the plant community that affects all creatures. After the fire, nutrients in the ash, especially nitrogen and phosphorus become readily available to seeds, roots, and shoots. Seeds from fire-dependent species such as lodgepole pine are widely dispersed and rapidly take advantage of the available nutrients. Loss of the forest canopy allows plenty of sun to reach the ground allowing an explosion of plant growth. Over a very short time the forest floor becomes covered with a variety of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and seedlings. Wildlife readily take advantage of this new growth. Because of the way in which most wildfires burn, a patchwork of burned areas, partial burns, and unburned areas is created. Such areas provide ideal forage and shelter for a variety of wildlife from birds and small mammals to big game species. In fact, burned areas often create the forage-food combinations preferred by elk. Bighorn sheep benefit from both the plant growth as well as the openness of the new habitat. Until the forest canopy closes over the area again, the succession of plants will continue to provide excellent habitat conditions.

Commission to Meet August 23-25

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet at 8:00 a.m. August 24 and 25 at Fish and Game headquarters, 600 S. Walnut in Boise. A public hearing will be held at 7:00 p.m. on August 23 in the same location. Topics on the agenda include setting waterfowl seasons, consideration of legislative proposals for next year, and the budget request for fiscal year 2002. The Commission will also consider a predator management policy and is scheduled to vote on a proposal to allow outfitting for wild turkey hunts. Anyone wanting to offer comments on the draft predator policy or turkey outfitting proposals will find them under "What's New" on the department website, http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/whatsnew.htm or in hard copy at department headquarters.

Fish and Game Veteran Jerry Mallet Retires

Assistant director Jerry Mallet, the longest-tenured Idaho Fish and Game employee, has retired after 44 years on the job. Mallet's employment spanned the terms of five directors, and he was assistant director during three of them. He was named acting director by the Fish and Game Commission three times in recent years. Mallet started with the Department in 1956 as a fisheries aide. His first permanent position was as a fisheries research biologist studying westslope cutthroat trout on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. His research still stands as the definitive life history and ecology study on the species. Mallet has also served as a regional fisheries manager, anadromous fisheries manager, fisheries research manager, and regional supervisor in the Southeast Region in Pocatello before taking on the job of assistant director in 1984. He supervised research which has resulted in some of the most progressive wild trout management and regulations in the nation. Fish and Game director Rod Sando, on board since April, said he feels "fortunate to have had this much time with Jerry. His experience and knowledge of the agency have been a great help to me. He will be missed." Wildlife bureau chief Steve Huffaker has been appointed acting assistant director.

Big Toothy Guy Takes Bum Rap

Cascade Reservoir's tiger muskies have a perfect alibi in the continuing investigation into the demise of that lake's famous perch population; they were not even on the scene when the perch met their demise. Frustrated perch anglers have been blaming tiger muskies for eating their favorite fish and cussing Fish and Game for having planted the hybrid predators in Cascade. Fish and Game biologists and the Bureau of Reclamation have joined forces to investigate the mystery of the perch collapse. The researchers are not ready to name a suspect yet. But the tiger muskies - despite their size, voracious appetite, and fearsome appearance - didn't do it. McCall-based fisheries biologist Paul Janssen pointed out that tiger muskies were first stocked in Cascade in July 1997 when 600 11-inchers were released. Another 7,500 tiger muskies of about seven inches were planted in September 1997. Perch fishing began to decline in the early 1990s and had totally collapsed by 1995. Most of the tiger muskies were too small to eat adult perch until at least the late summer of 1998 and so could not have been implicated in a perch crash until 1999, four years after the huge population of perch actually disappeared. Even if the tiger muskies had been stocked into the middle of the several million perch that were swimming in the lake in the late 1980s, there were too few of them to have done the dirty deed. Another factor that clears the reputation of tiger muskies is that they really do not find the spiny-ray perch as much to their liking as they do soft-ray species including northern pikeminnow (historically known as squawfish) and suckers, two fishes Cascade holds in great abundance. One good reason for planting tiger muskies in Cascade is their appetite for suckers and pikeminnow. Tiger muskies prefer to live in the weedy margins of lakes while perch use all the water. It is unlikely that they would hold down a resurgence of perch in the 30,000 acres of Cascade.

Hunters Warned of Fire Danger

Fish and Game has no plan to close hunts in southern Idaho where wildland fire conditions are extreme but everyone headed into hunting or fishing territory must abide by the restrictions currently in force on Forest, BLM and state lands. With archery seasons for antelope and early elk hunts set to begin soon, hunters should be aware of fire dangers and use restrictions that include keeping all motorized vehicles on established roads. A "short-range weapons only" hunt begins August 15 in Units 23 and 24 and an "any weapon" hunt starts the same day in Unit 22. The hunt areas are outside forest boundaries, but any fire that starts could quickly burn into the Payette National Forest. Three "any weapon" hunts for antlerless elk are already going on in eastern Idaho. Most archery hunting for antelope takes place on BLM lands. Wildfires are currently burning in several parts of Idaho. Fire season severity is far above average and expected to remain so until the weather changes. State lands, including Fish and Game Wildlife Management Areas, as well as BLM lands and forests have been declared off-limits to firewood cutting. Restrictions on campfires and smoking have been in place for several weeks. Use of motorized vehicles including ATVs is confined strictly to established roadways. Wood or charcoal fires are not allowed for cooking and heating except in improved campgrounds. Chainsaws and generators and other power equipment are prohibited. The motorized travel and equipment restrictions only apply from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Muzzleloader hunters, because their rifles are loaded with loose powder, must be extremely aware of the danger of starting a fire when they shoot. Hunters should stay informed of conditions before they go. Checking with Forest Service offices in the area of the hunt is advised.

Feel a Frog for Free

Ever see a desert frog? You can do that and touch one too in an evening of family fun and education at the next Nature Center Wildlife Wednesday program. On August 16 at 7 p.m., wildlife researcher Janice Engle will give a talk on the Columbia spotted frog at the MK Nature Center located at 600 S. Walnut in Boise. Columbia spotted frogs live in an area most people do not associate with frogs, the Owyhee desert. Engle will explain how these frogs have adapted to living in a desert and the unique strategies they have developed to stay alive. Engle will also discuss the decline in amphibian populations around the world, and what that may tell us about the environment.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I read something about a "salvage order" on a reservoir. What does that mean? A. There are several reservoirs across the southern part of Idaho which have salvage orders now, and likely to be more due to the lack of rain. The most common salvage order lifts the bag, possession, and size limits, but other requirements, like tackle restrictions, remain. A salvage order is always directed at a specific body of water, and may liberalize tackle restrictions. If you have a question about a specific location, or want to know if there are any salvage orders effective in your area, call your regional Fish and Game office.

Idaho Fish & Game Commission Seeks Input On Proposed Waterfowl Seasons, Turkey Outfitting & Predator

IDAHO FALLS - Wildlife management in Idaho covers a broad range of issues. At their next meeting in late August in Boise, the Idaho Fish & Game Commission will be addressing such diverse topics as setting waterfowl seasons, outfitting for turkeys, and adoption of a predator policy. In order to provide the Commission with a sense of public opinion, the Upper Snake Region of IDFG will be hosting two open houses on August 14, 2000, to solicit public input. These opportunities for public comment will run simultaneously from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the IDFG Regional Office (1515 Lincoln Road) and Ross' Coin and Gun Shop (390 N. Eastern Ave.) in Idaho Falls. Input from these meetings and similar meetings across the state will help the Commission make final decisions regarding: 2000-2001 waterfowl seasons, outfitting for turkeys, and possible adoption of the IDFG Predator Policy. Additionally, the Commission is seeking input on a proposal to split the Big Desert elk hunting zone (Units 52A, 53, 63, 63A, 68, 68A) into 2 smaller zones: a new Big Desert Zone (53, 63, 63A, 68A) and a new Snake River Zone (52A, 68). The public is being asked whether they prefer an early waterfowl season opener (9/30/00) or a later season opener (10/07/00). Bag limit restrictions would remain the same as last year. Similar to the past, a youth waterfowl hunt for the weekend of 09/23/00 is being planned. States have the option of expanding from the current one day hunt to a second day, but this would result in the additional loss of one day from the general hunting season. Wild turkey hunting in Idaho has grown dramatically since its inception in 1989, when only about 200 birds were harvested. In 1999, over 5,000 birds were taken and now the Commission has been approached by the Idaho Guides and Outfitters Association (IGOA) to consider a variety of options related to commercial turkey outfitting. Sportsmen attending open houses can learn more about options being considered.

In The Field

Comments Sought in Outfitting for Turkeys Idaho's wild turkey population and hunting opportunity have increased greatly over the past decade. Tag sales increased from 1,333 in 1989 to 16,781 in 1999. The Idaho turkey harvest increased from 228 to 5,458 during that period. While turkey hunting is not particularly technical in nature, some hunters have expressed an interest in hiring an outfitter to take them turkey hunting as an enhancement to their spring or fall turkey hunting experience. To date, no licenses have been issued in Idaho to outfitters which would allow guided turkey hunting trips. The Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association (IOGA), a statewide organization, supports the addition of licensed guided turkey hunting as an opportunity to diversify their operations. Historically, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has been opposed to outfitting for upland game birds and waterfowl because of the potential loss of access to private property for non guided bird hunters. Turkeys have been classified as game birds since their introduction into the state in 1961, and turkey hunts have never been eligible for outfitting. Members of the IOGA would like to see guided hunts become available to those who wish to employ the services of a professional guide.. Some hunters have indicated they would like to enlist the services of an outfitter for turkey hunting if such services were available. Other hunters have expressed a concern they may lose access to private property because private leases for hunting access would exclude them. Biologists with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game do not view outfitted turkey hunts as a potential biological problem at current turkey population levels. The question is the social issue of how outfitting may or may not impact access to private property. The impacts are to date unknown.

Fish Limits Suspended at Mountain Home Reservoir

By order of the Department of Fish and Game, fish bag, possession and size limits at Mt. Home Reservoir have been suspended effective Saturday August 5. Anglers in possession of a valid fishing license are encouraged to catch as many fish from the reservoir as they can eat. The reservoir has fallen victim to Southern Idaho's current drought conditions. Fish and Game was recently notified by the Mountain Home Irrigation District that the increased demand for irrigation water would leave the reservoir completely dry by summer's end. "Faced with that prospect, it was an easy decision to remove limits on the reservoir and allow anglers to take these fish home rather than let them go to waste," Fish and Game fisheries manager Dale Allen said. Some of the fish will be moved to other waters. "We're working with the Mountain Home Hawg Hunters (a local bass fishing club) to collect fish from the reservoir," Allen noted. "Those fish will be relocated to C.J. Strike Reservoir and other regional waters." As part of the limit suspension, anglers may use rod and reel, handheld landing nets and legal minnow seines to collect fish from the reservoir. All other collection methods are prohibited, and fish must be killed prior to transport from the reservoir. For more information, contact Dale Allen at the Fish and Game Nampa office, 465-8465.

F & G Seeks Comment on Turkey Outfitting, Predator Policy

Wild turkey outfitting, waterfowl seasons and a draft predator policy top the list of discussion topics for an upcoming open house hosted by Fish and Game. Everyone is invited to attend the August 16 get together to be held at the Fish and Game Nampa office, 3101 S. Powerline Road from noon to 6:00pm. Written comments are also being accepted and can be mailed to:
Fish and Game, Attention: Lou Nelson 3101 S. Powerline Road Nampa, ID 83686 or emailed to: lounelso@idfg.state.id.us
Here's a brief outline of the three topics that are the focus of the open house: Wild Turkey Outfitting The Department's long-standing policy against outfitting for wild turkeys stems from the concern that it could result in exclusive leasing of private lands - where most turkey hunting occurs - leaving the majority of turkey hunters with no place to hunt. However, the policy does prohibit outfitters from operating guided turkey hunts on their own property. A proposal by the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association to allow turkey outfitting resulted in the formulation of four alternatives for sportsmen to ponder: 1) allowing no turkey outfitting; 2) allowing turkey outfitting only on lands owned by an outfitter; 3) issuing a limited number of turkey outfitting licenses for a three-year trial period and; 4) allowing unlimited turkey outfitting. "This issue is social in nature, not biological," regional wildlife manager Lou Nelson noted. "None of these alternatives will have adverse impacts on Idaho's turkey populations. The impacts, rather, will be felt by all Idaho sportsmen and outfitting businesses, depending on the alternative selected by the Fish and Game Commission. That's why it's so important that sportsmen make their voice heard on this issue." Waterfowl Seasons