Press Release

January 2002

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I keep hearing about recipes for sturgeon but Idaho's sturgeon are completely protected, are they not?

A. Right, all Idaho sturgeon populations are strictly protected. If you are enjoying a sturgeon dish, the fish had better have come from Oregon or Washington where keeping sturgeon is still legal, or from a licensed commercial fish hatchery. You can fish for sturgeon in parts of Idaho but the law requires that you do not take them out of the water at all and that you let them go immediately, unharmed. Catch and release sturgeon fishing does have a large and enthusiastic following in Idaho. No sturgeon fishing is allowed in the Kootenai River of northern Idaho.

Dogs Can Be A Problem For Big Game

In recent weeks, several Fish and Game officers have received complaints about dogs chasing big game animals. This seemingly natural doggy activity is very hard on wildlife at a time of year when they can least afford to be unnecessarily bothered.

Big game such as elk and deer spend much of the winter conserving energy. They move around slowly and simply do not roam as far as during the rest of the year. Snoozing on sunny hillsides becomes an important activity that helps the animals save their energy reserves for battling the cold. This relatively sedentary winter lifestyle helps many animals survive the rigors of winter. But add a dog doing what just comes naturally and the potential survival of some animals can become questionable.

Solving this problem and helping our wildlife survive winter basically comes down to responsible dog ownership. If you are a cross-country skier who likes to ski with your dog and the dog cannot resist the temptation to chase animals, leave your dog at home. If you walk in areas frequented by big game, leash your dog. If big game animals frequently cross your property, make sure your dog is confined and unable to chase after the animals. With more of us living close to deer and elk winter range, this becomes more important.

Finally, by preventing your dog from chasing wildlife you will also be protecting your dog. Elk and deer can cause major injuries or death, necessitating a visit to your veterinarian for treatment or euthanasia. Additionally, your dog could be hit by a car when in hot pursuit of a deer that crosses a road. Or they could become lost after a long chase. By protecting your dog, you will also be helping our wildlife survive Idaho's winter, and that is hard enough already.

F&G Will Host Open Houses For '02 Deer, Elk, Antelope, Black Bear And Lion Seasons

The dates, locations and times are set for three open house meetings the Magic Valley Region of Idaho Fish and Game will host the last two weeks of January. These meetings are to take public comments on options for the 2002 hunting seasons on deer, elk, antelope, black bear, and mountain lion.

For those individuals not able to attend an open house, they may still submit their suggestions and recommendations directly to this office, P.O. Box 428, 868 E. Main, Jerome 83338. In order for those comments to be timely, useful, and adequately considered, they should be submitted no later than February 15. Comments will however, be accepted through the end of February.

Some items of special interest include management direction for elk in the South Hills - Owyhee Zone, and the future of mountain lions in the Gem State. A document covering this elk issue may be found on the Fish and Game website. Visit http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame; link to What's News and then to New Additions. You may submit comments online from this site.

The Department receives numerous complaints every big game season about the improper and irresponsible use of off-road or all-terrain vehicles (ORV's or ATV's). In an effort to improve hunt quality, reduce hunter congestion, and limit complaints of people chasing and shooting game animals from these machines, the agency is looking into further restrictions as a way to manage these problems.

Weiser Cove's Problem Elk to be Trapped/Relocated

Two resident herds of rogue elk causing severe crop and fence damage in the Weiser Cove area east of Weiser may soon find themselves in a new setting. Fish and Game is gearing up to trap and relocate the elk beginning January 19.

The decision to move the elk was not made lightly. "We know that some folks will be unhappy with this decision," Fish and Game regional supervisor Don Wright noted. "And we fully realize the logistical difficulties involved with this type of operation. Still, we feel it is the best thing for the area and for the elk."

Given the prospect of relocating them, the two herds are sizeable. "There are 130 to 150 elk in the first group and 200 to 250 in the second," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jon Rachael said. "We're focusing Saturday's efforts on the smaller, more accessible group." In the days that follow, the larger elk herd will be the focal point of trapping efforts.

Elk residing in the Cove area are a fairly recent phenomenon. "When they first took up residence a few years ago, both herds were quite small and the source of few problems," Fish and Game landowner/sportsman relations coordinator John Nagel said. "They were at best a novelty and at worst an annoyance that was overlooked by area landowners."

Since then, both herds have grown and that growth has compounded damage problems. "We [Fish and Game] have attempted to reduce the herd using all the conventional tools at our disposal," Nagel said. Those conventional tools have included a five-month elk season, depredation hunts, kill permits and continual hazing. Despite these efforts, herd growth has not slowed and damage complaints and damage claims have soared. Fish and Game is now paying thousands of dollars annually for elk-caused crop damage with no end in sight. "We're out of conventional options," Wright said.

Local Volunteers Help IDFG Trap Deer For Ongoing Fawn Survivability Study

ARCO - Thanks to the help of about 30 local volunteers, IDFG was able to add another chapter to its ongoing study of fawn survivability in Idaho. Volunteers of all ages showed up near Marsh Creek in Unit 50 on Saturday, January 5th, to help Department personnel trap deer.

The volunteers helped to process mule deer as part of the newest addition to the fawn survivability study has been going on within the Southern Regions of the State for the last four years. The trapping phase of the project involves the use of a leased helicopter to "drive" does and fawns into nets strung across the hillsides. Once trapped, volunteers are used to "mug" the deer, helping to keep it immobilized while biologists work on the animals. Once blood samples have been drawn and radio collars attached, the animals are released unharmed. Every year there is some concern voiced about the impact of stress on the animals, but trapping related mortality has been nearly nonexistent throughout the duration of the study.

Trapping conditions at the Unit 50 site were excellent and a total of 42 mule deer were trapped with the aid of community members. Trapping efforts near Heise on the South Fork of Snake River the week prior were less ideal and it took two days to capture 33 animals with the aid of about 40 individuals. Of the 42 deer trapped at Marsh Creek, 24 were fawns and 17 were does, and one yearly buck was also incidentally trapped. All of the fawns and does received radio collars so that in addition to mortality, seasonal movement could also be monitored and plotted.

IDFG Seeking Public Comment for 2002 Big Game Seasons

LEWISTON - - Proposed changes in antlerless white-tailed deer seasons and low bull elk numbers in the Dworshak and Elk City zones are just two issues slated for discussion during a series of Idaho Fish and Game open house meetings scheduled for the last week in January.

Interested individuals can discuss the proposals and provide written comment at any of four open house meetings scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the following locations.

Orofino

Monday, Jan 28

VFW Hall, 330 Michigan Ave.

Grangeville

Tuesday, Jan 29

Senior Center, Hwy. 3 County Road

Lewiston

Wednesday, Jan 30

Community Center, 1424 Main Street

Moscow

Thursday, Jan 31F

airground Exhibit Bld., 1021 Harold

Proposed elk management changes include modifications of A-tag, antlerless elk opportunities in the Palouse Zone and possibly capping B-tags for bull elk in the Dworshak and Elk City Zones. Proposed deer management changes include providing additional antlerless white-tailed deer opportunities in big game management units 8 and 8A in response to depredation concerns.

"We want all hunters to review the proposals and tell us what they think," IDFG wildlife manager Jay Crenshaw said. "Their input is important in shaping the final season recommendations presented to the Fish and Game Commission."

The open house format allows participants to come and go during a three-hour period and visit with IDFG personnel about wildlife issues. Written comments collected will be presented to the Fish and Game Commission at their March meeting, where final action will be taken.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Mike Demick at IDFG at 799-5010, prior to January 28, 2002.

Public Input Sought on 2002 Big Game Hunting Proposals

Elk and deer seasons in hunt unit 39 are the primary focus for discussion during a series of upcoming Fish and Game-hosted open houses. The public is invited to attend the get together nearest them to help shape this fall's hunting seasons in Idaho's Southwest region.

The open house format allows visitors to come and go during a three-hour period and visit one-on-one with Fish and Game personnel about any wildlife management issue.

Open houses will be held at these locations from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the dates indicated:

Boise, Monday, Jan. 28

Fish and Game Headquarters

600 S. Walnut

Weiser, Tuesday, Jan. 29

Weiser High School Library

690 Indianhead Road

Mtn. Home, Wed., Jan. 30

Mtn. Home Bingo Parlor

3285 Airbase Road

McCall, Monday, Feb. 4

Best Western Hotel

415 N. Third

Nampa, Tuesday, Feb. 5

F&G Regional Office

3101 S. Powerline Road

Contact Fish and Game's Nampa office at 465-8465 or the McCall office at 634-8137 for more information. "We'd like to invite everyone to attend one of our open houses and share their input with us," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jon Rachael said. "That input will be important in shaping final fall hunting seasons."

One thorny issue to be addressed is the harvest level of bull elk in the Boise River zone (unit 39). In 2001 the Fish and Game Commission instituted a cap on the number of B elk tags sold for the zone to address the problem. However, a rush on the 3,300 available tags by eager prospective hunters overwhelmed Fish and Game's computer license system, causing it to crash. An emergency order rescinded the cap. "We've put together several season structure proposals for the Boise River zone that we believe will help reduce bull harvest without resorting to another tag cap," Rachael noted. "Now we'd like the public to take a look at the proposals and give us their opinion."

Ask Fish and Game

Q. When do we see the new rules booklets on the turkey and bear seasons?

A. The turkey seasons and rules booklet for 2002 has just been delivered to vendors and Fish and Game offices all over Idaho. The contents of the booklet have been available for some time on the department web site at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/.

Bear seasons and rules are included in the 2001 big game proclamation booklet.

Stormy Weather Can Mean Good News For Winter Steelheaders

LEWISTON -- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds winter steelhead anglers that while the recent precipitation may have caused frustration, the high muddy waters can be a blessing in disguise.

"Fishing can be dynamite after a high water event," said IDFG Fisheries Technician Larry Barrett at Lewiston. "This usually causes fish to move upstream and become more active."

With river conditions improving, so has fishing success. Recent angler surveys show catch rates to be 12 hours per fish caught on the main Clearwater River, and 10 hours per fish caught on the North Fork of the Clearwater River this past weekend. Fishing has also been good on the upper Clearwater between Orofino and Kooskia, with numerous larger "B's" showing in angler's creels.

Thousands of fish are in the Snake River and fishing has also been good above Lewiston. However, anglers should expect 2-foot daily fluctuations in flow levels due to Hell's Canyon Dam power production. The Salmon River near Riggins is very good and should stay that way through spring if the river stays clear. Anglers drifting eggs or shrimp, jigs and bobbers, and backtrolling plugs are all enjoying good success, according to Barrett.

Steelhead anglers are reminded to bend down their hook barbs and release all steelhead with adipose fins. Anglers should also note that for the 2002 spring season, steelhead limits have been increased to three per day, nine in possession; and with the purchase of a second steelhead permit, anglers can keep 40 per season.

All other rules and season regulations remain the same and can be reviewed in the 2002-2003 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure.

Hunting Is Safe Recreation

LEWISTON -- Many people wrongly assume hunting is dangerous, but according to statistics from the National Safety Council, hunting is one of the safest forms of recreation in the United States.

Statistics show that more people are injured playing ping-pong or shooting billiards than hunting each year. For every 100,000 participants, hunters reported seven injuries due to hunting incidents. If ammunition reloading accidents and other related events are taken out of the equation, the number of hunting incidents per 100,000 drops to less than two.

By comparison, playing football caused 3,313 injuries, cycling caused 1,189, golf had 185 and bowling had 60 injuries per 100,000 participants. Therefore, over eight times as many people reported injuries while bowling than while hunting.

Richard Oliver, hunter education coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, says that hunters can reduce the number of hunting incidents to zero if they follow three basic rules.

"Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times; keep your safety on until ready to shoot and identify your target before pulling the trigger," he said. "Most of Idaho's hunting incidents each year involved careless gun handling."

Of the 11 reported hunting accidents reported in Idaho in 2001, careless gun handling was the cause of six. Idaho had one fatal hunting accident during 2001, the first since 1999.

Observant Hunter Helps Catch Moscow Poacher

KENDRICK - With elk season closed, the quick actions of a concerned deer hunter who heard nearby rifle shots and later observed a man in possession of a bull elk, resulted in a $1,625 fine and loss of hunting privileges for a Moscow man.

In December 2001, Latah County Judge William Hamlett assessed Stacy Clemm, age 33, with the charge of killing an elk during closed season.

The case began when Tanna Ragan, Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer received an anonymous tip the morning of November 4, 2001; one day after the elk season closed in Unit 8A near Kendrick. The same morning, while hunting private land in the Texas Ridge area, the witness heard two rifle shots at approximately 6:30 a.m., and later observed Clemm use a four-wheeler to drag and load a branch-antlered bull elk into a white Ford pickup.

When Ragan and fellow officer, Clint Rand, contacted Clemm six hours later, there was an elk carcass skinned and quartered in his truck, but the head and antlers were missing. Clemm stated that he shot the elk the night before but because of a poor shot, couldn't locate it until morning. After finding no evidence on the carcass supporting his claim, Ragan collected a temperature reading of 86 degrees from the thigh of the elk, and explained that an approximate time of death could be determined.

Time-of-Death charts show that if the elk had been shot at the end of legal hunting hours on November 3 as Clemm stated, the body temperature would be approximately 65 to 68 degrees. The charts also showed that an elk with an average body temperature of 86 degrees would have been dead for approximately 5-10 hours, as the anonymous informant indicated the violation occurred.

After further discussion, Clemm admitted to the location of the elk head and hide, which the officers examined and determined that the elk was fatally shot in the neck.

Wild Turkeys On The Move

LEWISTON -- In an effort to establish wild turkeys in suitable habitat in southeastern Idaho and to lessen landowner conflicts where turkey populations have increased to problem levels, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has teamed up with the National Wild Turkey Federation and volunteers from the University of Idaho to trap and relocate birds from the Clearwater region.

Trapping has been conducted in several areas, with 84 birds captured and moved to the Roberts and Inkom areas of southeastern Idaho. Capture efforts will continue until birds disperse in early spring. The goal is to reduce the populations in areas where conflicts have increased and relocate turkeys to areas of good habitat throughout Idaho.

The efforts have been largely funded by donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation. Several federation members and wildlife students from the University of Idaho have also volunteered to assist. IDFG has welcomed their support.

"Without their help we would be limited in what we could accomplish," said John Nelson, IDFG wildlife technician. "It's ultimately people like this, who give back, who are responsible for the comeback of the wild turkey," he added.

Wild turkeys are not native to Idaho, but were first introduced in 1961 near Riggins. Since then, more than 150 relocation efforts have been conducted statewide. Populations have done so well that during the 2000-hunting season, an estimated 4,896 birds were harvested. The department hopes to establish turkey populations in all suitable habitats and produce hunting opportunities for 20,000 hunters.