Press Release

November 2000

Elk Poachers Receive Heavy Sentences

A deer hunter's quick action and memory for detail recently helped Fish and Game conservation officers nab a pair of elk poachers.

Jason Burton, of Boise and Daniel Hileman, of Nampa now must pay more than $3,000 in fines and choose between jail time or community service for poaching a spike elk during a closed season.

Near Idaho City on October 30 - a full week after the elk season closed in the area - Burton and Hileman (who was apparently just along for the walk) spotted fresh elk tracks headed into a thicket. Hileman flushed a spike elk, and Burton shot and killed the young bull. After field dressing the animal, the two men dragged it to a trail, then decided to return the next day to retrieve the carcass.

Before they arrived the next morning, a deer hunter hiking the trail found the poached animal. "Even though it was the last day of deer season, this sportsman took the time to contact Fish and Game and report this crime," Fish and Game Conservation Officer Bill London noted. "He provided us with many fine details, including the elk's exact location, a description of the tire tracks at the trail head, even the brand of cigarettes apparently smoked by the poachers."

London and fellow Conservation Officer Brain Marek arrived at the trail head to find Burton and Hileman at their vehicle preparing to load the illegal elk. "Everything fit the hunter's description, down to the tire tracks of the vehicle and the brand of cigarettes Burton was smoking," London explained. Initially, the two men claimed to have found the elk and that they were intent on transporting it to Fish & Game. As the conversation continued, both confessed to the crime. Officer Marek also discovered that Burton had purchased an elk tag for another area that morning, with the intent of covering up the poaching by claiming to have killed the elk in an area still open to hunting.

Input Sought for Five-year Fishery Management Plan

Fish and Game's Draft 2001-2005 Fisheries Management Plan is now available for public comment. A series of open houses planned in Southwest Idaho will give the public their chance to shape the direction of fish management for the coming five years.

"Public input is an important part of the management plan process," Fish and Game regional fisheries manager Dale Allen noted. "I'd encourage every person who enjoys fishing in Idaho to read through the plan and provide us with their comments." The draft plan will soon be available on the Department's web site at www2.state.id.us/fishgame/fishmng.htm

The draft plan sets forth major fisheries goals and objectives for the upcoming five-year period, and provides details regarding both statewide and drainage-specific management programs. Following the incorporation of public comments, a revised, final plan will be presented to the Fish and Game Commission for approval in early 2001.

Public open houses regarding the draft fisheries plan will be held at these times and locations:

Nampa, December 4, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Fish and Game Office, 3101 S. Powerline Road

Garden City, December 5, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Hunter Ed. Bldg, Rm #2109 W. 44th Street

McCall, December 7, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Fish and Game Office, 555 Deinhard Lane

McCall, December 15, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Fish and Game Office, 555 Deinhard Lane

Mt. Home, December 19, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Mt. Home Bingo Parlor, 3285 Airbase Road

Weiser, December 20, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., High School Library, 690 Indianhead Road

In The Field

Thanksgiving has passed, and most of the wild turkeys hunters bagged last season are consumed. Never fear! Turkey season is just around the corner (so to speak).

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has scheduled a public meeting on turkey season proposals for the 2001 spring and fall turkey seasons. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 30 from 7:00-8:30 pm at the IDFG regional office, 2750 Kathleen Ave in Coeur d'Alene.

The IDFG is seeking comments on two options proposed for spring hunts, and two options for fall hunts. Comments received will be forwarded to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration when they set turkey seasons at their December meeting.

For several years, spring turkey hunting in the Panhandle has opened with two limited controlled hunts followed by general hunting. The controlled hunts spread out the hunters at the beginning of the gobbling season and reduced the potential for hunters interfering with the efforts of other hunters. This system was developed when turkeys occupied only a portion of the Panhandle. Now that turkey numbers have grown and the occupied area has expanded, some hunters feel the controlled hunts are no longer necessary.

One spring proposal includes a controlled hunt with 525 permits valid from April 15-30, followed by a general hunt from May 1-25. Hunters would be eligible to purchase a second tag which would be valid May 10-25.

Turkeys tend to remain concentrated on their winter grounds (agricultural areas with grain fields) until May 1 in the Panhandle. Offering the controlled hunt ensures low hunter density that reduces access conflicts on private property, improves hunter safety (although this has not been a problem in Idaho), and reduces the frequency of hunter disturbance from other hunters.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Do I need to turn in my harvest report? What about the supertag drawing?

A. Only turn it in if you were successful. The supertag drawing has been eliminated, because only those who harvest a deer or elk are required to report. Forms which were pre-printed for last year were used up this year, and they still had the message about the drawing.

Trout Fishing

Just when you thought it was safe to stow the fishing gear for the season, the trout at C. J. Strike Reservoir are on the bite.

"We're getting reports of phenomenal trout fishing in all parts of the reservoir," Fish and Game fisheries biologist Brian Flatter noted. "We've got some very happy anglers down there limiting out on trout in the 17- to 21-inch range."

Those fish are some of the 27,000 catchable-sized (nine to 12 inches) rainbows stocked in C. J. Strike last fall and this spring. About 4,000 of the trout sport small jaw tags, used by Fish and Game to assess fish catch rates at the reservoir. "We'd really like anglers to return the tags to us," Flatter said. Doing so will land some lucky angler another great prize: a $100 sporting goods gift certificate that will be awarded on December 29. The winner will come from a pool of anglers that returned jaw tags to Fish and Game.

In addition to the catchable rainbows, approximately 200,000 fingerling (three and one-half to four inches) rainbows were stocked in C. J. Strike this spring. "Growth rates on those fish have been impressive," Flatter commented. "Those fish are now in the 14-inch range and anglers are getting into them too."

Location seems to have little to do with fishing success at Strike right now. "Bank anglers and boat anglers alike are doing well," Flatter said. "Trout are being caught from the dam, below the dam, in the Bruneau Narrows, just about anywhere along the shoreline."

Flatter attributes much of the fishing success to better water conditions this year. "Much of the reservoir's water was stored for most of the summer," Flatter explained. "That allowed for great zooplankton production which these trout continue to feed on. Nice-sized rainbows are the result and C.J. anglers are the beneficiaries."

Boating Tips from a Waterfowl Hunter

Contact: Ann Van Buren, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation

If you are a serious waterfowl hunter, a boat is probably an important piece of your equipment. It can also place you in serious danger unless you use it wisely.

"Looking back on it now, we were doing so many things wrong, no wonder we swamped our canoe," said Milt Coffman of Boise about the fateful day he had to swim for his life while duck hunting on the Boise River several years ago.

"First off, we never considered the consequences of loading three large men, four guns and two dozen decoys in a canoe," he said, "as we planned to use the boat only a short time to get us down river to the duck blind. We were so focused on getting all the greatest gear we could for the hunt, we didn't check the weight capacity for the boat or have an agreed upon plan if things went awry. Of course, it was a sunny day, so we sat on our life jackets instead of wearing them," Coffman said.

"The river channel had changed since the previous month and there were new obstacles. We went around a bend and were suddenly pinned sideways against a tree that had been dropped by a beaver. The guy in back decided to jump out onto the log and save his own skin, which forced the canoe to turn into the current. With 200 pounds over capacity and our gear piled high in the center, it didn't take much to lose balance and capsize. I lost my Winchester 101 custom shotgun but consider myself lucky I wasn't trapped under the tree!"

"Overloading and not wearing life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year," said Ann Van Buren, boating education specialist with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR).

Licenses Go On Sale December 1

Hunting and fishing licenses for the year 2001 go on sale December 1.

Licenses for a full year of fishing and hunting make a welcome gift, available from Fish and Game offices in the form of a gift certificate. The actual license can be purchased for minors. Hunters born January 1, 1975 or later must have completed hunter education and have a certification number before a hunting license will be issued.

Many Idahoans buy licenses for the coming year before January 1 in order to avoid lines at Fish and Game offices or vendors.

Resident big game tags are not issued until August 1 but hunters can pay and be issued a receipt for a tag which they can redeem after that date.

Swan Poachers Sought

State and federal authorities are interested in the identity of whoever shot four swans recently at Fish and Game's Market Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Market Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Roberts in southeast Idaho has always had an abundance of wildlife. Native Americans and early settlers found such a bounty of wild game that they named the area "Market Lake." As Idaho grew, the area was placed under the management of Fish and Game to insure that both the needs of wildlife and the desires of sportsmen could continue to be met. Proper management of the area and all wildlife in general means scientifically based rules and regulations. Recently, someone chose to break both state and federal law by killing four tundra swans.

On Saturday, November 11, senior conservation officer Lew Huddelston was patrolling the Main Marsh at the WMA and observed the small flock of tundra swans. On Sunday, November 12, the report came in that some dead swans had been found, and that an obviously injured swan was seen near the East Springs area at the WMA. Further investigation yielded the carcass of one tundra swan. Signs indicate that coyotes scavenged the other dead swans.

Even though tundra swans are hunted in Utah and some other states, they are managed under and protected by both U.S. Federal and Idaho State law as a migratory species. Because of the flagrant nature of this poaching incident, the violators if found, face both state and federal civil and criminal charges.

The hunting of tundra swans in Idaho is prohibited to help reduce the accidental hunting of relatively rare trumpeter swans. Distinction between the two swans is often difficult because of the overlap in size and coloration of the two birds, especially as juveniles.

Correction to Grizzly Bear Story

A Fish and Game news release dated November 20, 2000 incorrectly referred to the "Interstate" Grizzly Bear Committee. It should have read "Interagency" Grizzly Bear Committee.

Special Supervised Depredation Goose Hunts Planned

In an effort to reduce conflicts with the ever-increasing resident Canada goose population, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will open several sites in the valley to hunting. Personnel from the three agencies will supervise all hunts. The hunts are planned in the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley in areas normally closed to hunting. The scheduled dates for the three hunts are December 20, 2000, January 3 and January 17, 2001.

IDFG will accept names of goose hunters interested in applying for the special hunt during the week of December 4-8 only. Hunters will be asked to designate which State they wish to hunt. Hunters will be selected using a computerized random drawing, and will then be contacted and provided more specific instructions about the hunt.

"Last year, hunters harvested over 180 geese and applied pressure to move them throughout the valley," said Regional Wildlife Biologist Miles Benker. "Hunting was also reported to improve in outlying areas where hunting is allowed. Most of this land is in private ownership, so make sure to ask for permission to hunt."

Those individuals applying for the hunt must meet the following requirements:

You must arrange to have 3 other members in your party.

  • All hunters must have all State licenses and permits required for the State in which you will be hunting.
  • Federal Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Migratory Game Bird Harvest Information Program Validation.
  • Minimum of 2 dozen decoys/party.
  • Boat or retrieving dog.

Sites for the special hunt include Confluence Island, Hell's Gate State Park and North Lewiston crop land in Idaho, while Washington sites include Swallows Park and Asotin area.

Steelhead Go to Boise, Payette, Little Salmon

Anglers have an even better chance to catch steelhead trucked Friday to the Boise, Payette and Little Salmon Rivers.

This may be the last time this season that the hatchery at Oxbow Dam is able to provide steelhead for the popular planting program. Fish and Game fisheries personnel are seeing a slowdown in the run to the Idaho Power Company-funded Oxbow Hatchery. This fall's steelhead run is expected to top 100,000 fish, about 55 percent more than the long-term average.

Steelhead are made more easily accessible to anglers when runs provide more adult spawners than the hatcheries need.

The Boise River from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Dam has now received 750 steelhead this fall with the planting on Friday of 250. Another 300 were trucked to the Little Salmon River where 300 had been planted earlier. The Payette below Black Canyon Dam near Emmett received 50 steelhead Friday.

Turkey Proposals Go to Public

Turkey hunters could see expanded hunting opportunities next year as turkey populations continue to expand in Idaho.

Turkey hunters will have an opportunity to voice their preferences for 2001 hunts before the Fish and Game Commission sets seasons when it meets in Orofino December 6-8. A round of open houses at Fish and Game regional offices will begin soon. Those who wish to participate should watch for notices in their regions.

New seasons have been added in recent years as wild turkey numbers have expanded in Idaho. Tag sales grew from 1,436 in 1990, when the total turkey harvest was 291 statewide, to more than 16,000 in 2000 when more than 4,400 birds were taken. The 2000 figures include the estimated number of Sportsman Pack (a package of tags and permits that includes turkey) who actually hunted turkey. It also includes buyers of second spring tags, which were not offered until 1999, but does not include fall hunts which are still being tabulated.

Proposals prepared for consideration by the public and the Fish and Game Commission are as follows:

PANHANDLE:

Spring Controlled Season: April 15-30 (525 permits)

Spring General Season: May 1-25 (2nd tag valid May 10-25)

-or-

Spring General Season: April 15-May 25 (2nd tag valid May 10-25)

Rationale: Turkeys tend to remain concentrated on their winter grounds until May 1 in the Panhandle. Offering an early spring controlled hunt ensures a low hunter density that reduces access conflicts on private property, improves hunter safety, and reduces the frequency of hunter disturbance from other hunters. Alternatively, if a general hunt began April 15 more hunters would have the opportunity to hunt during the peak of gobbling activity, the cost would remain at $18, and general season dates would be consistent across the state.

Fall General Season: October 20-31

-or-

Fall General Season: September 15-30