Press Release

January 2002

Fish and Game Director Resigns

Meeting by conference call January 23, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission accepted the resignation of Department of Fish and Game Director Rod Sando. Sando will remain on administrative leave with full pay and benefits until June 30. He had served as director since April 2000.

In a resignation letter faxed to the commissioners, Sando cited irreconcilable philosophical differences with the commission and said "I think it will be best for everyone if I move on."

Deputy director Al Van Vooren was selected by the Commission to serve as acting director until a new permanent director is selected. Van Vooren is a 17-year veteran of the department with a background in fisheries research and management. He has served in various positions including Southwest Regional Supervisor before becoming Deputy Director in 2000.

Female Mountain Lion Season Closed in Hunt Unit 22

As of Tuesday January 15, the female portion of the mountain lion hunting season in hunt unit 22 has been closed by order of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"Either sex lion hunting in this unit was scheduled to remain open until March 31, or until six female lions were harvested, whichever came first," Fish and Game regional wildlife manager Jeff Rohlman stated. "This unit has reached the quota of six female lions; hunters may now harvest only male lions in this unit." The male lion season remains open through March 31.

Mountain lion hunting rules require successful hunters to bring the skull and hide with evidence of sex attached to any Fish and Game conservation officer or Fish and Game regional office within ten days of the kill for tagging.

Backyard Bird Count February 15-18

LEWISTON - The Palouse Audubon Society, Canyon Birders and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology ask area bird watchers to participate in the 5th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count scheduled for February 15 through 18, 2002.

Rita Dixon, Idaho Department of Fish and Game nongame biologist in Lewiston says the bird surveys are fun and every birdwatcher's contribution is important. "The information backyard birders collect provides a better understanding of our wintering birds. It's also a fun event that requires as little as 15 minutes to tally birds in a backyard birdfeeder, outside an office window or on a leisurely hike."

According to Dixon, the data collected will be combined with Christmas Bird Count and Project FeederWatch data to give scientists an immense picture of winter bird populations nationwide. This information will help define bird ranges; populations, migration pathways and habitat needs, and will ultimately help with bird conservation.

Local birding groups have scheduled a field trip at Mann Lake, which is designated an Idaho Important Bird Area, for Saturday, February 16 beginning at 8 a.m. Interested participants are encouraged to meet at Mann Lake, approximately 3 miles southeast of Lewiston.

Report tallies can be obtained and reported on line at http://birdsource.cornell.edu/gbbc. Birdwatchers without computers can report their findings by contacting a Wild Birds Unlimited store at (800) 326-4928. Report forms and instructions can also be obtained at Idaho Fish and Game's Clearwater Region office located at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston.

Managed Goose Hunts Completed

LEWISTON - To reduce conflicts with the ever-increasing resident Canada goose population, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, recently concluded three managed goose hunts within the city limits of Lewiston and Clarkston.

In response to community concerns of air flight safety, water quality and sanitation of popular recreational areas in the valley, an Urban Goose Task Force was formed to evaluate the growing goose problem.

Comprised of various state and federal agencies, local counties, ports, airport and golf course personnel, the group evaluated several goose population control methods previously used that included trapping and transplanting, hazing, use of repellents and nest structure removal. Because of the limited success of these methods and the significant expense and labor demands required, the group elected to use closely managed hunts using qualified hunters in small groups.

Eight sites normally closed to waterfowl hunting, were open temporarily for the three, half-day hunts. Approximately 24 adult hunter groups participated in the hunts. Idaho Fish and Game also introduced 12 youth to waterfowl hunting, with each young hunter harvesting a goose during an extra youth-only hunt. Personnel from the three agencies supervised each group and used boats to patrol river and retrieve injured birds.

The hunts were very successful in dispersing and harvesting geese that congregated in several problem areas. Of the estimated 3,500 geese that winter in the Lewiston and Clarkston valley, approximately 10 percent of the population was harvested and utilized by the hunters.

Bluebird Nesting Box Makes An Ideal Winter Project

LEWISTON - With many outdoor enthusiasts frustrated by the recent inclement weather, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages them that building a bluebird nesting box can provide a refreshing change and can benefit our small but attractive feathered friends.

"Man-made nest houses can help fill the shortage of natural nest sites, and building one is a perfect winter day project for families, clubs and individuals," said Rita Dixon, IDFG nongame biologist in Lewiston.

Only minimum woodworking skills are needed, and hand tools found in most homes will do the job. However, the project will go a little faster with a power saw and an electric drill.

Materials needed: A 1-by-6 board 5 feet long (rough or unplaned cedar works fine); A handful of 1-3/4 inch galvanized screws; One galvanized nail 1-1/4 inches long plus a small washer to fit it.

The Mountain bluebird, Idaho's State bird, is one of two species of bluebirds that return to Idaho in late February or early March from their southern wintering grounds. The mountain bluebird is larger than the western bluebird, and both are slightly smaller than robins.

Because the bluebird bill is not suited for digging nest cavities, they make their nests in existing cavities, excavated by woodpeckers and other animals. Many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood or taken by aggressive non-native species like the European starling and house sparrow, so many bluebirds never find homes.

For more information on bluebirds, including illustrated plans for a nesting box, drop by the Clearwater Region office at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston, and ask for the free pamphlet "Building Homes for Idaho's Bluebirds." A limited supply of nesting boxes is available for a $4.00 donation. All proceeds will be used to improve the wildlife nature area located near the Fish and Game office.

Grab The Phone - Stop A Poacher

LEWISTON - With most of the hunting seasons closed now, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds people who spend time outdoors that they should still reach for a phone whenever they witness a violation of fish and game laws.

"Poaching occurs year around, but the phone works year around too," says Dave Cadwallader, IDFG enforcement supervisor based in Lewiston. "The Citizens Against Poaching hotline is open 24 hours, and it was started as a way for concerned citizens to get involved in stopping poachers."

Apprehending violators, however, is only part of what CAP has accomplished. One of the most important functions of an active anti-poaching hotline is that it can discourage potential violators. "When any citizen can quickly call a number, day or night, maybe poachers will think twice before breaking the law," Cadwallader said.

Anyone who witnesses a violation is encouraged to call the toll-free CAP hotline at 1-800-632-5999, their local conservation officer or any law enforcement authority. Callers will remain anonymous, and cash rewards are available if the information is sufficient for a citation or a warrant to be issued. A conviction is not necessary.

It is very important for callers to get as much information as possible on the violation, the persons committing it and quickly contact authorities. Descriptions of people and vehicle, license numbers and other details on the violation are all helpful.

Fish and Game Schedules Public Meetings

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will hold several public meetings around southeast Idaho to receive public comments on 2002 hunting seasons and regulations for elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion, and black bear.

Meetings will be held at 7:00 P.M. on the following dates:

January 28

ISU Student Union

Little Wood River Dining Room

Pocatello

January 29

Bear River Bowmen Archery Range

Preston

January 30

Caribou County Senior Center

Soda Springs

Department biologists will be on hand to answer questions and discuss options for upcoming seasons. The public will have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions that will be forwarded to the Fish and Game Commission for their consideration prior to setting final hunting rules at their March meeting.

One suggestion for changing elk hunting dates would reverse the timing of bull and cow seasons. Cow elk seasons in most areas have started October 15th, bull seasons on October 26, in recent years. Reversing the order would allow people with bull permits to hunt prior to the greater numbers of cow hunters. Allowing hunters to pursue cow elk a little later would hopefully result in better hunting conditions and lead to an increased success rate.

"Elk numbers are probably at the upper limit of what is socially acceptable across most of southeast Idaho, and are still growing in most areas," according to Regional Wildlife Manager Carl Anderson. "If you think about it, herds of animals the size of elk are not very compatible with humans and our farms, ranches, and towns. Also, while elk and mule deer are not direct competitors for resources, it's difficult to have lots of both in the same place at the same time. It seems likely that increases in elk populations may be replacing deer on some important winter ranges."

Final Salmon Survey Reported

The final results of a survey of salmon anglers who took part in the extraordinary 2001 chinook seasons show anglers spending an average $371 per fishing trip for a total of $46.1 million.

Fish and Game anadromous fisheries manager Sharon Kiefer presented the final report to the Fish and Game Commission at its meeting in Boise January 16-18. The report focused on individual fisheries more than the preliminary report Kiefer gave late last year.

The lower Clearwater River produced the most fish at 12,360 of the 43,690 caught statewide but the Little Salmon showed the highest success rate at 51 percent compared to 48 percent total. Three percent of anglers caught more than 20 chinook before fishing ended in late summer.

Anglers in Idaho enjoyed the largest run ever of hatchery-reared chinook salmon last spring and summer because of unusually favorable runoff levels when the fish were juveniles headed to sea and good ocean conditions while they were growing. Fishing was allowed in 11 different waters last year.

Discover Idaho's Natural Heritage

Discover Idaho's Natural Heritage at the MK Nature Center. Together for the first time, three traveling exhibits from the Natural Heritage Center at Idaho State University will be on display from February 15 through May 31.

Each of these displays offers photographs, graphic images, specimens, and an interactive computer kiosk, which enables visitors to examine Idaho's natural resources, habitat areas, and the animal species living within the borders of this state.

"Understanding the Work of Nature" focuses on Idaho's diverse landscape. Take a virtual hike to the top of Idaho's tallest peak, Mount Borah, examining the different habitats, and the plants and animals at each elevation.

"Appreciating Nature's Services" examines how plants and animals provide human communities with many different types of resources, from medicines to outdoor recreation opportunities.

"Conserving the Diversity of Life" explores how people can build a community and still be responsible caretakers of the land through careful planning. New and protected wetlands as well as wastewater treatment facilities help improve the quality of water, which sustains all life.

Visit these exhibits at the MK Nature Center, 600 South Walnut, Boise, from February 15 through May 31. For further information on the displays, visit the Natural Heritage Center website at http://imnh.isu.edu/naturalheritage.

Goat Hunts to Close

Meeting in Boise January 16-18, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved closing mountain goat hunts in Units 59 and 59A in the eastern side of the state.

Declining goat populations in those units caused the department to recommend the hunting closures. The closure will be done by the Fish and Game Director.

Trophy species manager Dale Toweill said mountain goats seem to be stable or in decline in most of Idaho. Hunting permits numbers have dropped steadily over more than a decade.

Apply Now for Spring Turkey, Bear Controlled Hunts

Hunters have until February 15 to apply for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts.

Applicants will find current seasons and rules for the spring turkey controlled hunts in the 2002 proclamation brochure, recently distributed to Fish and Game offices as well as to license vendors statewide. The spring bear controlled hunt information for 2002 spring seasons is found in the 2001 big game rules booklet, still available statewide. Controlled hunt application worksheets are included in the rules booklets. The application period began January 15.

Applications can be filed through license vendors and at Fish and Game offices. Applications may also be mailed to IDFG, Licensing Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. Telephone applications can be made by calling 1-800-554-8685 and using a credit card. This is a contracted service and applicants will be charged a fee of $3.50 plus three percent of the total.

Application blanks can be downloaded and printed from the Fish and Game web site at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/ but applications cannot be made directly through the internet.

The controlled hunt application fee is $6.50 and is not refundable. Fish and Game offices do accept personal checks but not credit cards.

Commission Gavel Passed

Marcus Gibbs of Grace accepted the chairmanship of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission January 17.

Gibbs was appointed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and is in his first term on the Commission. Outgoing chairman Dr. Fred Wood, Burley, was presented with an award for his service by the other six Commissioners. Wood was first appointed by Governor Phil Batt and reappointed by Governor Kempthorne. He has previously served a term as chairman.

The Commission chairmanship changes each January.