Idaho Fish and Game Commission Chairman John Burns has reaffirmed the opposition of the Commission and Department to the proposed reintroduction of grizzly bears announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Commission has formally opposed reintroduction since 1995. Even though it opposes reintroduction, Fish and Game participated in the Grizzly Bear Oversight Committee process established by the Legislature and still participates in the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. "Obviously, whether grizzlies are present due to natural expansion of their range or are imported in spite of our opposition, it would adversely affect many of our programs," Burns said. We need to be informed, but without question the Commission opposes importation of grizzlies."
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, meeting by conference call Nov. 17, approved a draft five-year fisheries management plan for 2001 through 2005. This is the fifth management plan developed since 1981. It may be downloaded from the department website under "What's New" at www.state.id.us/fishgame by December 1. The draft was developed after sampling public opinion with an angler opinion survey mailed to 10,800 resident anglers and 1,200 nonresident anglers as well as input from regional scoping meetings held earlier this year. Results are accurate to within a few percentage points of what surveying all 447,000 Idaho anglers would have provided. A similar survey was completed before each of the previous plans was drafted. The draft plan sets forth major fisheries goals and objectives for 2001-2005. It details both statewide and drainage-specific management programs. The Commission action releases the draft for public and agency review and comment. Regional staff will be having open houses and public meeting to gather input through December. A final plan will be presented for Commission approval in early 2001.
The Fish and Game Commission will consider turkey hunting seasons when it meets in Orofino December 6-8. The Commission will meet at the Konkolville Motel but a public hearing is set for 7 p.m. December 6 at the Ponderosa Restaurant at 220 Michigan Avenue. Rules for the 2001 turkey hunting seasons will be considered December 8. Commissioners will hear reports on a long list of subjects including deer and elk plan objectives, the Clearwater elk habitat initiative, and updates on grizzly bear reintroduction and hunting in National Monuments.
Q. Is it true some hunts were extended? A. Yes. B tag elk hunts in the Selway and Middle Fork zones have been extended until November 30, as have some deer controlled hunts and some controlled hunts for trophy species. The extensions were a response to fire-related closures of the areas earlier in the year. More specific information is on the Fish and Game website under What's New and then "Fire Information."
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), 1540 Warner Avenue, Lewiston, will host an open house Wednesday, November 29 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. for public comment on proposed changes to the 2001 Wild Turkey seasons. The only proposed change for the spring hunts in the Clearwater region would be to include Unit 10 into the general hunt units. Unit 10 would also be included into the fall hunts. The proposed changes for the fall hunt in the Clearwater region are the following: Option 1. Keep the fall season as a controlled hunt, but increase the number of controlled hunt permits, from 200 permits offered in fall of 2000, to 300 permits proposed for fall of 2001. The hunt would be conducted from September 15 -30. Option 2. Change to a fall general season that would be conducted from September 15-30. Based on the low number of fall controlled hunt applicants, converting to a general hunt might not influence the number of participants greatly. The hunt would be conducted from September 15-30. Fall tags would be sold separately in addition to the spring tags so that a hunter could buy up to three turkey tags per year. The hunter could not convert an unused spring tag into a fall tag. It is expected that fall harvest would be small, and occur in conjunction with big game archery and forest grouse hunting seasons. Hunters than cannot make the open house can call the IDFG Clearwater Region office with their comments (799-5010). All comments must be received by 5:00 PM, December 1 so they can be forwarded to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting to be held in early December. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Mike Demick at Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 799-5010.
IDAHO FALLS - It's November and images of turkeys are everywhere. It's no wonder that November is National Turkey Month. While most people are scouting for the perfect recipe for how to enjoy their Thanksgiving turkey, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game wants to take things a step further and talk with the public about proposed changes in wild turkey hunting seasons for next spring. In regions where actual turkey hunting opportunities exist, the Department will be holding open houses to gather public input. Because the Upper Snake Region presently lacks any hunting opportunity, a comment period approach is being utilized to gather input from the public. Interested individuals should contact Regional Wildlife Manager Bradley B. Compton for information concerning proposed statewide turkey regulations no later than by 5:00 P.M. on Friday, December 1. Comments can be made in a variety of ways depending on individual preferences. Comments can be made in person or mailed to the IDFG Regional Office located at 1515 Lincoln Road in Idaho Falls or via telephone at 525-7290. For those using E-mail, Compton can be reached at email@example.com. Turkey hunting is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. As the number of birds in the state increases, so has the number of hunters getting involved. In 1985, only 439 turkey tags were sold. Last year a total of approximately 29,164 general and controlled hunt tags were purchased. Hunter success has increased right along with hunter numbers. In 1985, a grand total of 73 birds were harvested. Last year hunters brought home 4,409 gobblers! In addition to an increase in the number of birds harvested, the number of birds transplanted continues to remain strong.
Waterfowl Hunters: Know Your (Weight) Limits Hunting seasons for most species of game animals are open. Most hunters are taking wise safety precautions by wearing hunter orange in the field as they pursue their pastime. An often overlooked aspect of hunter safety is boating safety while pursuing waterfowl.. Nearly every year, a boating tragedy occurs in northern Idaho that results from a boat capsizing or swamping in very cold water. Duck hunters take great care in preparing for the hunting aspect of their outings. They carefully check decoy lines and weights, design and build camo blinds, purchase warm clothing and boots, pattern steel shot loads, practice calling, etc. Often overlooked, however, is the mode of transportation to the hunting location and the safety considerations needed to get there and back. Hunters using a boat to get to their island blind, and those hunting from their duck boats are going not only on a hunting trip, but they are also going on a boating trip. The most common mistake waterfowl hunters make in their boating trip is overloading the boat. All vessels under 20 feet in length and constructed after Nov 1, 1972, must have a capacity plate permanently affixed to a location clearly visible to the operator while the boat is underway. The plate lists (among other things) maximum allowed horsepower, maximum number of persons, and maximum weight capacity in persons and equipment. By the time you put on an outboard motor, load three hunters and all their gear, and then call a retriever into the boat, it is very easy to exceed the weight capacity of many boats without knowing it.
The Magic Valley Region will propose a moose hunt in the Wood River Valley, game management units 48 and 49, at its upcoming open house meeting in Jerome later this month. This issue and others regarding mountain goat and bighorn sheep in the region, plus input for the 2001 statewide turkey seasons will be topics for public input from November 27 through 30. Hunters and others interested in these species can attend a formal open house at the Jerome Regional Office, 868 E. Main, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 30. Wildlife staff personnel will be on hand that day to present details to those attending. Calls will also be accepted at the regional office Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. regarding these issues. The phone number in Jerome is 324-4359. Trophy species regulations are done every two years. This season setting process will be for 2001 - 02. Specific considerations for the Magic Valley Region include the deletion of the six permits for California bighorn rams in unit 46. Numbers of sheep in the Jarbidge and Bruneau River drainages have decreased over the past few years, and the number of legal rams has also declined. Unit 49 in the Magic Valley Region may be combined with the unit 50 mountain goat hunt from the Upper Snake Region. The permit level will remain at two goats.
ROBERTS - Market Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Roberts, 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 IDFG 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. This weekend, someone chose to break both state and federal law by killing four tundra swans. On Saturday, November 11, Senior Conservation Officer (SCO) 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 states such as Utah, 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.
Q. What license or permit do I need to fish for steelhead? I don't think my fishing rules book has the price right. A. You are correct, the prices in the book are wrong. It was printed late last year, prior to the fee increases approved by the Legislature in the spring. It was reprinted in July, and the prices in the front of the book were updated, but on the steelhead page (14) a list of the old prices was overlooked. You need a fishing license and a $11.50 steelhead permit. The permit can't be used with a one-day license. If you are a nonresident, you can get a three-day permit that includes a general fishing license for $28.50. Kids under 14 don't need a permit if they fish with someone who has one and record their harvest on that person's permit. Residents under 14 can buy a permit and have their own limit. Steelhead fishing is really heating up, and you can get weekly catch rates and river conditions on the Fish and Game website under "What's New."
The Boise River's already red-hot steelhead fishing will get another boost on November 17 when several hundred additional hatchery steelhead are stocked in the river. That same day, and for the first time this fall, the Payette River below Black Canyon Dam will be stocked with the four- to ten-pound ocean-going rainbows. A large portion of the hatchery steelhead returning to the fishtrap below Hells Canyon Dam became part of a steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery. However, an adequate number of adult fish have been collected for the program this year, making the release of surplus hatchery steelhead possible. As in weeks past, hatchery steelhead will also be released into Hells Canyon Reservoir and in the Little Salmon River where they are more readily available to anglers. In addition to a fishing license, a $11.50 steelhead tag is required to fish for, and harvest, steelhead. For more information regarding the steelhead release, contact the IDFG Southwest Region office in Nampa at 465-8465.
A strong run of hatchery steelhead has allowed Fish and Game to truck more of the sea-run fish to areas where more anglers will have a chance to catch them. On November 9, about 300 more steelhead joined some 200 planted the week before in the Boise River. Hells Canyon Reservoir and the Little Salmon River each received about 300 steelhead on November 7 and 8. The fish were trapped at the Idaho Power hatchery at Oxbow on the Snake River. This year's run of steelhead is estimated at more than 100,000, about 55 percent above the long-term average. When hatchery steelhead return in excess of hatchery rearing capacity, they can be planted elsewhere to make them available to anglers. Anglers need a fishing license and steelhead tag. Only hatchery steelhead may be kept anywhere in Idaho. Wild steelhead, those fish that have a full adipose fin, must be returned unharmed to the water. Anglers on the Boise River are allowed to use barbed hooks because the river no longer supports a wild steelhead population.