Press Release

December 2001

Family Fishing Featured in New Fishing Rules

The new 2002-2003 fishing proclamation booklet emphasizes fishing fun for families and introduces a format aimed at easier use.

The recently printed booklet has been shipped to license vendors and all Fish and Game offices. The entire contents are also available on the Internet at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

Anglers will notice no major changes in fisheries management direction in the new book but should find a number of improvements aimed at making it simpler and clearer for the user.

An important addition is "family fishing waters"Ñfishing areas in each region where the emphasis is on family-oriented fishing opportunities and simplified rules. These waters are designated with numbers and color coding.

Family fishing waters have been selected to provide settings for great fishing trips for families, kids and first-time anglers. These rules for these waters include year-round seasons; a general six fish limit for trout, bass, walleye and pike; no bag limits on other species; no length limits; and allow standard fishing gear.

Regional exceptions to general fishing rules are shown in charts intended to be easier to read than they were in the past. Other improvements are meant as aids to anglers; for example, an illustrated section on public access to fishing waters and Idaho's trespass law on page 12.

The new book contains text with color illustrations to help anglers identify Idaho's game fish species. These pages also tell whether each species is native or introduced and includes an index to waters with exceptions to general rules.

Turkey Rules Available Soon

Turkey hunting rules for the 2002 spring and fall season have been delivered to Fish and Game headquarters and should be available at license vendors by Jan. 10.

They will be available on the Fish and Game website hunting page at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame by New Year's Day. The application period for spring controlled hunts is Jan. 15 - Feb. 15.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Where can I find online information about wildlife in Idaho?

A. Besides Fish and Game at www2.state.id.us/fishgame, try the "Digital Atlas of Idaho" at Idaho State University, http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/ Then select the "Biology" link and the type of animals you want information about.

Cold Water Endangers Hunters, Anglers

Water does not have to be Christmas time cold to kill, it only has to be colder than you are to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

But waters are cold now while waterfowl hunters are enjoying the last few weeks of their season and anglers are still catching fish in the hottest steelhead season in years.

"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).

"The larger reason of course, is the icy temperatures that prevail, especially the cold water," she said. "Cold water zaps your energy as it wicks the heat from your body 25 times faster than the air would at that same temperature." If you fall in, you only have a few minutes before the cold can render you numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keep you afloat even if you are unconscious. Foam life jackets can be worn under clothing, but the new inflatable styles should be worn on the outside of the clothing," Van Buren said. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Here are the most important tips to remember when using open boats during the cold months:

Ask Fish and Game

Q. When do you draw super tags for filing the mandatory hunter report?

A. Mid April. You have to notify Fish and Game which tag you want (deer, elk or antelope) by May 1. If you draw, the tag you buy can be used in any open hunt for that species, anywhere in the state.

Big Game Winter Feeding

Snow covers the land and deer and antelope look hungry as they search for food through the cold blanket. Why isn't someone feeding them?

That question comes up every time an Idaho winter is severe enough to bring big game animals down out of the hills and into contact with people. To the good-hearted citizen and concerned sportsman the answer may seem simple. Wanting to do the best we can for animals, domestic or wild, is basic human nature.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants the best for wildlife too. In addition, the Department is legally required to preserve, protect and manage Idaho's wild game resources. Some people do not understand then, why the Department is cautious about establishing feeding programs and why it may appear reluctant to do so.

The reasons for the Department's policies and actions have been formed through decades of experience and study. Once examined, they are not difficult to understand, and they have everything to do with the good of the animals.

Overall policy dictates that our wild game populations be maintained under natural conditions and by natural available forage. Winter food abundance and availability is a major limiting factor that can determine the basic size of a big game population. Winter is known as the bottleneck in wildlife management. It is that time of the year when habitat resources may be at a minimum, and there will only be enough food or shelter to go around for a certain number of animals to survive until the spring.

In the long run, the habitat ultimately determines the maximum population size for any species. In the short run, it is weather that causes most year-to-year fluctuations in numbers. There are times, however, when unusual weather may create critical periods of stress when forage becomes limited, unavailable, or animals are forced into areas involving public safety.

Renew Licenses Before 2002 Hunting, Fishing

Hunters and anglers need new 2002 Idaho hunting and fishing licenses before taking to field or stream in the new year.

Waterfowl hunters must have a new Idaho license but their federal "duck" stamp remains valid through the end of the season January 20 (January 18 in the Fort Hall area).

Steelheaders need a new tag as well as a license. The spring steelhead season starts January 1. Steelhead limits for the spring season have been raised to three per day, nine in possession andÑwith the purchase of a second tagÑ40 for the season. The record return of hatchery reared steelhead occasioned the increase in limits.

No increases in license, tag or permits fees are anticipated for 2002.

Most hunting seasons ended December 31 but the cottontail rabbit season continues through the end of February and the snowshoe hare season through March 31. A hunting license is required when shooting predators and other nongame unprotected species.

Hunter Reminder Letter Sent

About 100,000 hunters recently received a reminder from Fish and Game intended to speed the gathering of big game harvest information.

When the letter was sent, only about 33 percent of hunters had filed reports and that causes problems for setting next year's seasons.

According to Deputy Director Al Van Vooren, the letter "has caused some confusion. Some hunters' reports probably crossed in the mail with the reminders or their reports hadn't been entered into the data base by the time the letters were sent on Dec. 5," Van Vooren said. "In some cases, sportsmen who are still hunting in several late hunts also would have gotten the reminder letter, even though their reports aren't due until January."

The letter reminded hunters to send in their harvest reports soon because this critical information is used to set big game seasons for next year. The first step in setting hunts begins in January when potential big game rule changes are sent out for public comment. The Fish and Game Commission actually sets the seasons in early March. "The sooner we have harvest reports, the sooner we can compile harvest data and get potential rule changes out for public comment," Van Vooren said.

The letters contain a reminder that failure to comply could prevent hunters from being able to buy a license next year. "We didn't mean to make that sound threatening," said Van Vooren, "We apologize for the concern the letters have caused and want to stress that it is just a reminder. If your hunt is closed, please send the report. If not, please remember to do so."

Reports can be turned in four ways. Fax it to 775-423-0799; phone it in to 877-268-9365; mail it to Harvest Reports, P.O. Box 70007, Boise, ID 83707-0107 or use the internet by going to http://www.idaho-hunt.com.

Antler Collecting Prohibition To Protect Wintering Wildlife Begins January 1, 2002

IDAHO FALLS - Nearly non-stop snowfall has helped to build snow packs that will hopefully pull the region out of the last few years of drought conditions. Irrigators and anglers are happy about the moisture, but wildlife managers know that you can get too much of a good thing. Heavy snow packs could have a negative impact on deer, elk and antelope in certain areas. How animals weather the winter depends greatly upon the amount of disturbance they receive from humans. January 1, 2002 once again marks the start of special restrictions to limit antler gathering activities to help protect wildlife.

The problem is really not about antler gathering, but more so the unscrupulous individuals who might harass wildlife in the process of attempting to collect antlers that have been shed. The lure of making a few dollars has resulted in an increasing number of humans venturing out in search of "sheds." These collectors go into areas where animals are wintering and in doing so place stress on the animals. Herds are forced to expend valuable stored energy reserves when chased through the deep snow. To help reduce the likelihood of such negative impacts, a number of years ago the Idaho Fish & Game Commission passed a regulation that closed down portions of the region to shed antler pick up during certain portions of the year.

In the Upper Snake Region antler gathering is prohibited in units 60, 60A, 66, 67, and 69 from Jan. 1 - April 30.

This regulation pertains to antlers found on both public and private ground. While certain areas may still remain open for both on and off road travel during this period, it is important that vehicle operators leave wildlife plenty of distance.

Successful Egin-Hamer Area Closure Goes Into Effect Again On January 1st

IDAHO FALLS - What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road five years ago has continued to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife. The lack of human disturbance created by the closure has allowed herds of deer, elk, and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring.

For the fifth year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of wintering deer, elk, and moose herds. The closure begins on January first and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of the road.

This arrangement was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with the idea of the area closure in return for the re-opening of the Egin-Hamer Road for winter travel. State agencies such as the Department of Fish & Game and the Department of Lands also have land involved in the closure and play an active role in management. Individual landowners accessing their own private lands are exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes are also exempt from the closure.

IDFG Improves Ahsahka Boat Ramp

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has rebuilt the Ahsahka boat ramp, located below Dworshak dam on the North Fork Clearwater River, in time for the upcoming spring steelhead and salmon seasons. The previous boat ramp was very narrow and the broken cobble substrate made launching of boats difficult and at times, hazardous.

The new ramp is 230 feet long and 20 feet wide of 8-inch steel-reinforced concrete.

The funds to pay for the improvements came from federal excise taxes on fishing gear and Idaho salmon and steelhead fishing permits.

IDFG worked in cooperation with the Clearwater Management Council, a group comprised of several county waterway committees and State and Federal government entities that combine funds to accomplish access improvement projects along the Clearwater River corridor.

IDFG maintains 44 boating and fishing sites within the Clearwater region to provide access for a variety of users. Thirty-four of these sites are located along the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers.

IDFG provides boating access to meet the public demand for quality fishing experiences and to produce revenue for the local economies. For example, a recent survey on the Clearwater River, determined that steelhead anglers annually expend 104,272 angler days, which equates to approximately $16,996,000 going into local economies.

A recent survey of salmon anglers, showed over 32,847 angler trips were taken on the Lower Clearwater River alone this spring and summer. This equates to $12,186,237 going into local economies as well. The survey showed anglers spending at least $371 per fishing trip with an average of $90 going for non-fishing supplies, $80 for lodging, $80 for transportation, $70 for fishing supplies, $60 for groceries and $40 in restaurants.

Mountain Lion Open Houses Slated

A possible change in mountain lion management philosophy is the topic for a series of upcoming open house meetings hosted by Fish and Game. "We'd like to invite everyone who takes an interest in mountain lions to attend one of our public open houses," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jon Rachael said.

Open houses will be held at these locations. Please note the dates and times for each.

McCall - Wed., January 9

1:00 - 7:00pm

Fish and Game Office

555 Deinhard Lane

Nampa - Wed., January 9

1:00pm - 7:00pm

Fish and Game Office

3101 S. Powerline Drive

Weiser - Thursday, Jan. 10

4:00pm - 7:00pm

Weiser High School Library

690 Indianhead Road

The open house format allows visitors to come and go and visit one-on-one with Fish and Game personnel. Written comments collected from open house attendees will be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for review and consideration. The Commission will take final action on lion management and other big game issues when they set 2002 big game rules at their March meeting.

Mountain lion management strategies were last visited in 1991. Three management options are currently being considered, including maintaining current lion distribution, managing lions at varying densities depending on location, and maintaining lion populations only in remote, core areas.