Press Release

November 2001

Blame Vandals, Not Mother Nature For Low Water At Cartier WMA

REXBURG - As if the lack of water this year had not been dramatic enough, vandals earlier this month drained much of the precious water that had been stored up at Cartier Wildlife Management area near Rexburg, Idaho. According to Regional Habitat Biologist Kim Ragotzkie, "Sometime in early November Vandals removed twelve 9-foot long steel boards from the main water control structure at Cartier Slough."

The actions of these vandals resulted in the near total draining of the 50-acre main slough. Before the slough had been drained nearly 40 trumpeter swans had been observed on the slough. According to Ragotzkie, "Not only have the trumpeter swans lost a good feeding area on their migration south, but many other waterfowl that typically stopover at Cartier Slough will find few areas of open water remaining." This lack of open water means that prospects for late season waterfowl hunters have dried up as well.

Due to the ongoing drought, many area marshes and sloughs have dried up this fall. At Cartier Slough, water conditions had been excellent though, due to the season-long operation of a large U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Teton Project Recharge pump operated by the Fremont-Madison Irrigation District. The pumped water passes through the Cartier Slough on its way to the Henrys Fork River. As the pump is now shut off, the slough will not refill this year. A few of the smaller sloughs still have water due to beaver dams that hold back small amounts of water.

In a land where water is liquid gold, any acts of molestation towards irrigation control structures are against the law. Injuring dams, canals and other structures is a violation of Idaho Code 18-7019. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Idaho Department of Fish & Game at 525-7290, and ask to speak with Kim.

Otter Season Closed In Magic Valley Region

Effective Sunday afternoon, December 2, the river otter harvest season in the Magic Valley Region is officially closed. The quota of 17 animals was reported to the Jerome Fish and Game office Friday afternoon, November 30.

The season in each region officially closes 48 hours after the harvest quota is met. A toll free number, 1-800-323-4334, may be called for current information regarding season status around the state.

All areas closed to the taking of beaver are also closed to otter harvest.

For further information contact the Regional Furbearer Biologist in Jerome, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 324-4359.

Extra Fish For Idaho Waters

A surplus of hatchery steelhead fingerlings was recently planted into three southern Idaho reservoirs. These were A-run steelhead from the Niagara Springs Hatchery, owned by Idaho Power and operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (Department).

A-run steelhead are a distinct strain of fish that enter the Columbia River in the summer months of June, July and August. They reach Idaho waters from August through the autumn months enroute to the Snake and Salmon Rivers.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has placed a limit on the number of hatchery steelhead that can be released by the Department into the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Any extra fish must be stocked into lakes or reservoirs where they cannot out-migrate.

These fish were about four inches long when stocked in October. Unlike hatchery steelhead intended for the ocean, these fish did not have a clipped adipose fin. This is the small fleshy fin located between the dorsal and tail fins.

The waters that received these fish were Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir (62,624 fish), the Snake River at Bell Rapids near Hagerman (84,960 fish) and American Falls Reservoir (330,995 fish).

The Department wishes to thank Idaho Power for allowing these extra fish to be stocked into state waters for the future enjoyment of anglers.

Christmas Bird Count Scheduled

The 102nd annual Christmas Bird Count has been scheduled in Salmon for Saturday, December 15th. This annual count is part of a continent-wide effort to get a snapshot of early-winter bird populations across the country. Over 45,000 participants spend a single day counting all the birds and bird species seen or heard within a 15-mile diameter circle. As much of this approximately 177 square-mile area is covered as is possible and the results tabulated at the end of the count period. Here in Salmon, 16 participants recorded 44 different species and 2,451 individual birds during last year's count.

The Christmas Bird Count(CBC) began in 1900 as an alternative to an annual holiday tradition called the "side hunt." During this hunt teams went afield and shot as many birds as possible. Concerned with declining bird populations, ornithologist Frank Chapman organized the first count on Christmas Day, 1900. Since that first count, the CBC has grown to become the largest and longest-running wildlife survey ever conducted. It has generated an immense database that has provided valuable information about trends in winter bird populations.

If you like birds and are interested in helping with this effort, you are encouraged to participate in this year's count. You can join experienced birders on a route or count the birds you see at your feeders. For more information, please contact Helen Ulmschneider at 756-5481 or Vicky Runnoe at 756-2271.

Big Game Seasons Wind Down; Hunters - Remember Harvest Reports!

The Department of Fish and Game relies completely on all big game hunters to turn in their mandatory harvest reports within 10 days of harvest or within 10 days of the close of their season. These reports on deer, elk and antelope are the only way the Department has of knowing harvest levels, hunter success, and days hunted.

The success rate in general antlered deer hunts from our eight opening weekend check stations was 23%, the same as in 2000. Controlled antlered deer success was 26%; permit holders for controlled antlerless deer hunts found 53% success for this year.

No preliminary data is available on either elk or antelope. Since all Magic Valley Region elk and antelope rifle hunts are the controlled type, we do not operate check stations to collect harvest data on them. No summary of harvest information will be available until hunter reports are turned in and calculated.

Department biologists and officers will begin in-house meetings in December to discuss next year's seasons. Hunters should plan to attend open houses in their area in late January. Harvest information turned in by then will be important in setting season dates and permit levels for 2002.

Deer numbers in the northern units (43, 48, 49) were good and continue to improve. Not only did the percent of yearlings in the harvest increase by 20% across the region, the percent of bucks with greater than a 20 inch spread increased by 53%! Recovery in the southern units has been slow however, although unit 56 showed an improvement in both deer numbers and hunter success.

Yellowstone Ecosystem Managers to Meet In Jackson, Wyoming to Discuss Grizzly Bears

IDAHO FALLS - The Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Subcommittee (YES) will hold its fall 2001 meeting on December 4 and 5 in Jackson, Wyoming at the Wort Hotel. YES is composed of representatives from the state and federal agencies responsible for recovery and management of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population. YES is a subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), which has responsibility for all grizzly bear recovery areas in the lower 48 United States. YES meets semi-annually to exchange information, to address important recovery and management topics and to plan and implement the population recovery process.

As the Yellowstone grizzly bear population proceeds toward recovery, increasing in both numbers and distribution, the status of this population and its interactions with local communities becomes more important to citizens and local governments in the area. A panel of citizens appointed by Governor Kempthorne recently drafted a proposal for how de-listed grizzly bears would be managed in Eastern Idaho. This proposed plan is currently working its way through the public comment process and will eventually go to the Idaho State Legislature this winter.

As part of expanding understanding regarding the future of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, YES has invited the county commissioners from all the counties in the three states that are known to have grizzly bears present at some time of the year. In Idaho, copies of the plan for future grizzly bear management will be available for review at the county commissioners offices for those counties located adjacent to the Yellowstone Ecosystem. These meetings are also opportunities for dialog with subcommittee members and a public comment segment concludes each day's business.

Ring-necked Pheasant Stocking Report

More than 3,300 farm-raised ring-necked pheasants will be released at four Southwest region Fish and Game wildlife management areas (WMAs) during the month of December.

Fort Boise WMA, near Parma, will be stocked with 1,200 during early December. Stocking on this WMA is scheduled to end in mid-December unless weather conditions remain mild and extra birds become available. Payette River WMA, near New Plymouth, will receive 320 birds, stocked throughout the month of December. Montour WMA, near Emmett, will be stocked with 400 birds during December and 1,475 pheasants will be stocked at C.J. Strike WMA, near Bruneau.

Hunters pursuing pheasants on any of these WMAs are reminded that they must purchase a WMA pheasant permit which entitles the bearer to six pheasants. The WMA pheasant limit is two birds per day and hunters must immediately validate their permit each time a pheasant is harvested. More information regarding pheasant hunting on WMAs is available in the current upland game rule booklet.

Because pheasant hunting on WMA lands is popular, hunters are encouraged to wear hunter orange, use trained hunting dogs to point and retrieve downed birds, and to give waterfowl hunters plenty of room in those areas where both kinds of hunting take place.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Report

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 12,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during December.

LOCATION NUMBER OF TROUT

Boise River (Boise) 2,000

Boise River (Eagle to Middleton) 1,000

Caldwell Pond #3 1,000

Ed's Ponds (Emmett) 500

Mill Pond (Horseshoe Bend) 500

Marsing Pond 1,000

McDevitt Pond 500

Park Center Pond 1,000

Quinn's Pond 1,000

Riverside Pond 500

Sawyer's Pond (Emmett) 500

Veterans' Park Pond 1,000

Wilson Spring 500

Wilson Spring Ponds 1,500

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.

Trumpeter Swans Pretty in Pink

Southeast Idaho residents are being asked to keep an eye out for trumpeter swans with a pink wing.

Young trumpeter swans, called cygnets, are being relocated to several locations in southeast Idaho from the Henrys Fork of the Snake River to try to establish new migration patterns and to avoid possible death this winter if the river freezes up. Biologists are concerned about the Henrys Fork trumpeter flock because it continues to grow while the habitat and food available remains the same. With current drought conditions, the river is more likely to freeze which will cut the swans off from the aquatic plants that feed them.

One wing on each of the swans is painted pink to identify them from other swans. Cygnets have a sooty gray appearance. So far, 26 of an estimated 70 cygnets to be trapped have been relocated to the Bear River area between Grace and Preston. Six cygnets have been relocated to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The cygnets can turn up almost anywhere within a 150-mile radius as they explore new territory. Public sighting can help biologists and volunteers keep track of the swans.

Anyone seeing these swans is asked to call Idaho Fish and Game at 525-7290 and ask for biologist Lauri Hanauska-Brown or 232-4703 and ask for Carl Anderson. Swan viewers are asked to note which wing is dyed pink and to try to read the numbers and letters on the swans green neck collars if possible.

"There are a couple of hundred swans at Harriman Park now with more coming," Fish and Game Biologist Lauri Hanauska-Brown said. "We are trapping young swans and moving them to other areas to try to establish new wintering traditions and spread out the swan population to make them less vulnerable to winter losses."

Trumpeter swans have made a remarkable recovery in the U.S. and Canada. Some trumpeter swans now live year around on the Henrys Fork while others migrate there to winter and eat the abundant underwater vegetation.

Give a 2002 License

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.

Hunting and fishing licenses for the year 2002 go on sale December 1. 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. No changes in fees for licenses or tags are expected in 2002.

Many Idahoans prefer to 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.

Illegally Killed Elk Leads to Large Investigation near Arco

By Vicky Runnoe, Regional Conservation Educator, Salmon

In the early morning hours of October 20, senior Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officer Dave Silcock of Mackay received a call from a hunter who stated that he had found a dead elk in a gravel pit beside a hayfield near Ram's Horn Canyon. The hunter said that the animal had been shot, its head removed and the meat left to rot. Acting on this tip, officer Silcock called conservation officer Brian Marek of Arco and together they drove to the gravel pit to investigate the hunter's information.

A thorough survey of the gravel pit and adjacent hayfield revealed that the elk had been shot while standing in the hayfield. The animal was wounded by a shot to the spine and stabbed to death in the chest with a knife. Vehicle tracks and drag marks revealed how the dead elk was dragged into the gravel pit where the head was removed and taken. The discovery of this elk marked the uncovering of what appears to be one of the worst poaching cases to have occurred in the Big Lost River Valley in many years. After 28 days of investigation, eight unrelated individuals had been found to have taken part in several different poaching events throughout the area.

Arrested on November 15, on one felony complaint in connection with this investigation was Damian Coon, 18, of Moore, Idaho. Coon has been charged with twelve elements in the Seventh Judicial District Court in Butte County. These charges include: