Press Release

November 2000

Successful Hunters Asked to Report

Successful elk and deer hunters are now the only ones who need to send a harvest report to Fish and Game. This is a change from the last two hunting seasons when all deer and elk hunters were required to file harvest reports. Reports are to be filed within 10 days of taking an animal. No report is required of those who do not kill an animal. Reports may be sent to Harvest Report Processing, PO Box 70007, Boise, ID, 83707 or faxed to 1-900-773-4263. A small line fee will be charged for faxing. Reports may also be dropped off at Fish and Game offices.

Bribe Offer Fails

A poacher's offer of half an elk did little to dissuade two hunters from turning in the culprit. The poacher, Robert Dechanne of Boise, was recently sentenced to the maximum penalty by Boise County Magistrate Patricia Young. On October 5, just 10 days before the area's elk season opener, two deer hunters in the Idaho City area heard a rifle shot and went to investigate. They found Dechanne field dressing a six-point bull elk. Rather than accept the poacher's offer of half the elk meat if they said nothing, the pair immediately left the area, recorded Dechanne's license plate number and flagged down Boise County Sheriff's Deputy Gina Turner. The deputy relayed information to Fish and Game Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes, who stopped Dechanne a short time later. When confronted with the eyewitness account, Dechanne admitted to poaching the bull elk and accompanied Haynes back to the kill site. Even though the trophy bull's antlers measured 314 7/8, the case did not meet the requirements for prosecution under Idaho's "flagrant violator" law. "Unfortunately, this case does not fall under the legal definition for a flagrant violation because there was an elk season open in other parts of the state," Boise County Prosecutor Theresa Gardunia said. Appearing in Boise County court, Judge Young gave Dechanne a $1,000 fine, $750 in civil penalty, and ordered him to pay court costs and fees. In addition, Dechanne lost his hunting privileges for three years and he was ordered to spend 30 days of his 180-day jail term behind bars. The other 150 days was suspended. This case illustrates the critical role of hunters in the apprehension of poachers. "Honest sportsmen were crucial witnesses in this case and we depend upon them to be our eyes and ears while in the field," Haynes said.

Ask Fish and Game

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."

Party Hunting - Common Form of Poaching

Poaching is defined several ways. Most of the public would agree that shooting an animal and leaving all or some of the meat to rot is poaching. However, too many people sit idly by for a more common form of poaching - party hunting. The unlawful practice of hunters shooting another hunter's game to fill tags can land violators a significant fine, revocation of hunting privileges, forfeiture of the illegally taken animal and possible jail time. "An Idaho hunting license gives the purchaser, and the purchaser alone, the privilege to hunt and harvest game in Idaho," says Dave Cadwallader, Idaho Fish and Game Regional Conservation Officer. "Anyone who harvests game but uses someone else's tag, and continues to hunt is not only breaking Idaho wildlife laws but is robbing the ethical hunter of opportunity." Party hunting artificially inflates harvest success ratios, which are very important in setting seasons. When wildlife managers observe increased harvest levels that are unhealthy for a population, they are forced to set limits on tags sold, manage by controlled hunts or eliminate the hunt entirely. "The end result is the ethical hunter losing another opportunity," said Cadwallader. Idaho Department of Fish and Game urges anyone who has information about any wildlife crime to contact law enforcement authorities or Citizens Against Poaching (1-800-632-5999). Callers can remain anonymous, and rewards are available.

Elk Poacher's Bribe Falls on Deaf Ears

A poacher's offer of half an elk did little to dissuade two hunters from turning in the culprit. In turn, the poacher, Robert Dechanne of Boise was handed the maximum sentence for the offense by Boise County Magistrate Patricia Young. On October 5, ten days prior to the area's elk season opener, two deer hunters hunting near Idaho City heard a rifle shot and went to investigate. They found Dechanne in the early stages of field dressing a six-point bull elk. Rather than accept the poacher's offer of half the meat if they said nothing, the pair immediately left the area, recorded Dechanne's license plate number and flagged down Boise County Sheriff's Deputy Gina Turner. Turner relayed the information to Fish and Game Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes, who stopped Dechanne a short time later. When confronted with the eyewitness account, Dechanne admitted to poaching the bull elk and accompanied Haynes back to the kill site. Even though the trophy bull green scored 314 7/8, the case did not meet the requirements for prosecution under Idaho's "flagrant violator" law. "Unfortunately, this case does not fall under the legal definition for a flagrant violation because there was an elk season open in other parts of the state," Boise County prosecutor Theresa Gardunia noted. Appearing in Boise County Court recently, Dechanne received the maximum sentence for his poaching violation: a $1000 fine; a $750 civil penalty; court costs and processing fees. In addition, Magistrate Young revoked Dechanne's hunting license privileges for three years and further sentenced him to 180 days in jail with only 150 days suspended. The case illustrates the critical role sportsmen play in the apprehension of poachers. "Honest sportsmen were crucial witnesses in this case and we depend upon them to be our eyes and ears while in the field,& Haynes noted.

Domestic Animals - Stay Home!

The MK Nature Center offers an urban haven to many different types of wild animals. Mule deer, raccoons, mink, and great blue herons are just some of the species that find food and shelter at the site. Recently, however, some not so wild animals have been making an appearance. Turtles, cats, kittens, and even dogs have turned up unannounced at the center, abandoned by owners who no longer want to take care of them. "The Nature Center does not provide a substitute home for animals whose owners no longer want them," nature center superintendent Terry Thompson noted. "We're asking that some pet owners take a more responsible attitude toward their animals." In some cases, the domestic pets have simply escaped or lost their way. "Identification tags aid us in contacting the owners of animals which may need a little help finding their way home," Thompson said. "On the other hand, some people believe it is acceptable to drop their untagged pets off and let us take care of them. We simply can't do that." "Domestic animals found without tags at the center will continue to be live-trapped and transported to the Idaho Humane Society," Thompson noted.

Don't Shoot Swans

With flights of waterfowl from the north country due any time now, hunters are reminded to be careful about swans. If it's bigger than a snow goose, has no black wingtips like a snow goose does, it's a swan. Shooting swans is illegal in Idaho and the result can be a sizeable fine and possible loss of hunting privileges. Two kinds of swans are seen in Idaho: tundra swans (previously called whistling swans) and the much larger trumpeter swans. Trumpeter swans are not as common, except in some parts of eastern Idaho where they reside year round. Both kinds of swans travel in large V formations and use the same areas as other waterfowl including snow geese. Snow geese all have pronounced black wingtips.

Steelhead Run up 55 Percent

Recent angler catch rates reflect what fish biologists expected-the best steelhead numbers Idahoans have seen since 1992-93. Through the end of October, biologists counted 104,087 steelhead coming over Lower Granite Dam, the last lower Snake River dam before the run reaches the Idaho border. That is 55 percent higher than at the same time last year when the run numbered 66,878. Last year's run was comparable to the 10-year average of 66,118. Recent contacts with anglers on the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers showed anglers in most areas catching steelhead faster than the 20 hours per fish average that is considered good steelheading. This year's run is largely a product of the same high water factors and ocean conditions that brought a substantial salmon run back to Idaho this past summer. Anglers can view steelhead fishing reports on the Fish and Game web site under the fisheries section.

Unit 28 Forage Recovering

Fish and Game has received many inquiries regarding the impacts of the Clear Creek Fire on wildlife, particularly big game animals. The Clear Creek fire was one of the nation's largest and most intense wildfires that burned over millions of acres last summer. At more than 200,000 acres, it affected a major portion of the popular Game Management Unit 28, a unit that is home to a large elk herd as well as other animals. The unit contains some critical winter range for elk. Fish and Game biologists have been touring the area to record the initial impacts of the fire as well as range recovery. Much of the critical big game winter range in Unit 28 that was burned is located in the lower Panther Creek Drainage. Biologists estimate that between 30 and 40 percent of this area was burned by low to moderate intensity fires, leaving a mosaic of burned and unburned areas across the range. This pattern is most obvious in the lower tributaries of Panther Creek especially Clear, Beaver, and Trail Creeks. At the present time, the unburned areas provide a good standing crop of grasses, forbs, and shrubs that will be available to big game this winter. With the exception of scattered sites of Idaho fescue grass on steep northern slopes as well as mountain mahogany in some areas, important perennial wildlife food plants appear to have survived. Highly nutritious species such as bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, and Sandberg bluegrass have all been helped recently by above-average rainfall and mild conditions and are showing growth of two to six inches. Most shrub species, with the exception of mountain mahogany and sagebrush, will re-sprout in the spring. Overall, the burned areas of critical big game winter range in Unit 28 appear to be recovering quickly. This re-growth will provide high quality fall and winter forage for the animals that depend upon this range during the coming winter months.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Can I trade my deer tag for a Clearwater Region deer tag? A. No. There is no provision in state code or Fish and Game rules for exchange of deer tags after the beginning of the season. However, you can buy a nonresident deer tag for the Clearwater area for $235. Seasons run until mid-late November, or use your regular deer tag in the Panhandle area where some seasons run until December 1.

In The Field

Deer season opened this week in much of the Panhandle Region. A few calls have come in from landowners, upset with hunters on cultivated private property without permission. In the interest of 'cultivating' good relationships between hunters and landowners, this is a good time for all hunters to review Idaho's trespass laws found on page 10 of the 2000 big game regulations, and page 11 of the upland game regulations. The current Idaho trespass law was passed in the late 1980's. The law states that "no person may enter private land to hunt, fish, or trap without permission if the land is either cultivated or posted..." Proper posting consists of signs or 100 square inches of florescent orange paint or entirely painted florescent metal fence posts every 660 feet around the property or at reasonable access points. Idaho's law is more "hunter friendly" than trespass laws in surrounding states and most of the rest of the US. In most states, permission is required on any private ground. With so much of Idaho land publicly owned, and much private land interspersed among tracts of public ground, it isn't always apparent if land is public or private. Idaho's law accommodates this possible uncertainty of ownership. Yet some hunters seem to be pushing this luxury to the limit. One call I took this week was from a landowner who had encountered some hunters on his private timber land. When contacted by the landowner, the hunters acknowledged that they had noticed signs prohibiting trespass. But they added that there were not enough signs to meet the legal requirement of a sign every 660 feet. They hunted anyway, because they knew the land was not adequately posted for prosecution. This type of attitude will certainly lead to the landowner posting every inch of property and never allowing any future hunters.