Press Release

March 2002

Information Sought On Tundra Swans Shot Near Whitebird

LEWISTON - During the weekend of March 24, two Tundra swans resting on Swartz Pond, a small wetland on the Whitebird Battlefield adjacent to Highway 95 near Whitebird, were illegally killed, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information about the crime.

Anyone with information regarding this violation is encouraged to call IDFG, Idaho County Sheriff or the Citizens Against Poaching toll free number, 1-800-632-5999. There is a monetary reward and callers can remain anonymous.

Wildlife Biologist Miles Benker of Lewiston discovered the floating carcasses during a wildlife inventory on March 27. Both swans were shot with a rifle, and may have been shot from the old Whitebird road that passes near the pond.

"The people of Idaho should be outraged at this needless and wanton killing of these beautiful swans," Benker said. "All swans are protected in Idaho, and the people who did this have no regard for the law."

Two species of swans migrate across Idaho in the spring and fall. The largest and one of the rarest waterfowl species in the world is the Trumpeter swan. The smaller and more numerous cousin is the tundra swan, formerly known as the Whisling swan.

Many people enjoy these magnificent birds as they pass through the area. Often the small family flocks will stay and rest on area waters during their long journey. Many local ponds provide the birds welcome relief and the chance for birdwatchers to view them.

Panhandle Region Fishing Outlook

Higher than normal snowpack in the Panhandle Region will probably result in tougher fishing conditions during the stream and river opener on May 25. Water will be high, cloudy, and cold. Early season anglers would be wise to wear a life jacket when walking stream banks or wading. The positive side is that fishing conditions should improve by the end of June and a gradual snowmelt could provide good conditions throughout the summer.

The Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Rivers will provide excellent fishing for cutthroat trout this year with the Moyie River providing excellent stream fishing for rainbow and brook trout.

New fishing regulations in the Priest Lake drainage will offer more harvest opportunity for exotic species like brook trout and lake trout, with additional protection for kokanee and cutthroat trout. The lake trout limit increased to six fish in Priest Lake and Upper Priest (no bait is allowed in Upper Priest Lake). Kokanee are closed to harvest to help rebuild the Priest and Upper Priest kokanee fisheries. All Priest Lake tributaries are now open to harvest of brook trout, but no harvest of cutthroat is allowed. The statewide brook trout limit increased to 25, making Priest Lake tribuaries very attractive to stream anglers who like to harvest fish for eating.

Priest River and tributaries now have the same cutthroat slot limit as the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Rivers. Two cutthroats may be harvested, but none can be between 8' and 16'.

Talk Back Meeting Scheduled

Fish & Game Talks Back To Sportsmen About Big Game Regs And Looks For Comments On Future Upland Game And Furbearer Regs

IDAHO FALLS - Many people have the perception that the government never listens to their opinions. Unfortunately, sportsmen also sometimes feel the same way about their dealings with the management of their State wildlife, but now things are different! On Tuesday, April 9, IDFG will be holding a meeting to explain to sportsmen exactly how this year's big game regulations were set. IDFG is also asking sportsmen to comment on changes that they would like to see considered for next two-year set of upland game and furbearer regulations. The meeting will be held at 7:00 PM in the cafeteria at Eastern Idaho Technical College in Idaho Falls.

According to spokesman Gregg Losinski, "Last year was our first try at getting back with the public to talk about the regulation setting process and it went over very well." Last February, IDFG held meetings all across the state to gather public input on a variety of proposed changes for next year's big game seasons. All of the public comments were forwarded by IDFG to the Idaho Fish & Game Commission who then set the final seasons at their meeting earlier this month.

The new regulations are currently at the printers and should hopefully arrive by the end of April. Because the regulations are now generated using digital printing technology, a sneak peak will soon be available to those who go to IDFG's website at www2.state.id.us/fishgame/common/regulations.htm.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. You said recently that electronic communication between hunters was not restricted by the Fish and Game Commission after it was discussed with the public. Seems I remember there is a restriction on communication between aircraft and hunters.

A. Good catch. That's true: it is illegal in Idaho for people in aircraft to be in communication with hunters on the ground. Now that rule has been extended to paragliders and any other powered craft of that ilk, even though they are not classed as aircraft under federal aviation rules.

National Wild Turkey Federation To Start Coeur d'Alene Chapter

The Idaho State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is looking to start a chapter in the Coeur d'Alene area. A public information meeting to discuss the formation of a local chapter has been scheduled for April 9 at 7 pm at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Panhandle Region Office. The office is located near the corner of Kathleen Ave and Ramsey Rd., across from the US Forest Service Tree Nursery.

Everyone interested in the outdoors is encouraged to attend the meeting. Additional information can be obtained by calling Charles Henry, Idaho State Chapter President, at (208) 343-5732.

The NWTF was founded in Edgefield, South Carolina in 1973 and is a national nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting opportunities and traditions.

Education and outreach programs of the NWTF include a program called the JAKES (a "jake" is a young male turkey) which is a youth program that features hands on activities for youth as well as scholarship programs.

Another program NWTF promotes is "Women in the Outdoors, a program that provides interactive outdoor learning opportunities for women 14 years of age and older. "Wheelin'Sportsman" is another program NWTF is involve with, which extends outdoor opportunities to all disabled individuals.

The purpose of the upcoming meeting is to solicit volunteers interested is starting the new chapter. The NWTF is looking for families and individuals interested in outdoor activities, and in promoting and preserving Idaho's hunting heritage for future generations.

Idaho's wild turkey hunting is increasing in popularity with each passing year, and wild turkey hunting is the fastest growing form of hunting in the United States. During the 2001 Idaho turkey seasons, hunters took home 4439 turkeys with a success rate of 31%.

Bluebirds Arriving In Idaho, Nest Boxes Available

Two species of bluebirds live in Idaho: the western bluebird and the mountain bluebird, our state bird. The mountain bluebird is larger than the western and both are slightly smaller than robins.

The male mountain bluebird has a very bright back and is pale blue below. The female is mostly gray with a trace of blue on the wings and tail. The western bluebird is less brightly colored and males and females both have rust on the breast.

Bluebirds live throughout Idaho in high desert juniper and mahogany, in forest meadows, and valleys and ridges in mountainous regions. They are most common in elevations of 4,000 feet and higher. Bluebirds are ground feeders with grasshoppers a dietary favorite. While we may not view them as such they are "predators".

The bluebird's bill is not suited for creating nest cavities, so they make their nests in existing cavities excavated by woodpeckers or other animals. Nests are lined with grass, fine strips of bark and pine needles.

Bluebirds return to Idaho from their wintering grounds by late February or early March and seek tree cavities for nesting. Since many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood, cleared to make way for development or have been occupied by non-native starlings or house sparrows, some bluebirds do not nest because they do not find suitable homes.

Man-made nest boxes help to fill the shortage of natural nest sites. Many Idahoans have already discovered the fun and satisfaction of building, placing and monitoring bluebird nest boxes.

IDFG Schedules April Breakfast Meeting

LEWISTON -- Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to the monthly Idaho Fish and Game breakfast meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, 6:30 a.m., at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston.

IDFG personnel will provide information on big game survey results, upcoming salmon and turkey season prospects, significant enforcement cases and a report will be given on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management work plan. Local outdoor groups are also invited to give reports of their current activities.

The breakfasts are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant. The meetings are open to anyone and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The breakfasts run until 9:00 a.m., with coffee provided by Fish and Game.

Apply for Moose, Goat, Sheep Hunts

Moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep hunters can submit their applications beginning April 1.

Applications for these controlled hunts will be accepted through April 30. Hunters may apply at Fish and Game offices or license vendors and can apply using a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685 at a cost of 3 percent of the total plus $3.00; Internet users can apply through Fish and Game's website for 3 percent of the total plus $3.50.

For moose, goat and sheep hunt applications only, the entire permit fee must be paid with the application. All but the $6.50 application fee will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including permit fee, costs $164.50; nonresidents pay $1,514.50. Fees are the same as they were last year.

Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30.

Hunters who apply for moose, goat and sheep may not apply for any other controlled hunt in the same year except for unlimited controlled hunts, controlled bear hunts or depredation hunts. Those who draw a moose, goat or sheep permit and do not have a kill may not apply to hunt the same species for two years. No one may apply for a moose who has killed one in Idaho or for a goat who has killed one since 1977. Anyone who has killed a California bighorn or a Rocky Mountain bighorn may not apply again for the same type of sheep but may apply for the other subspecies.

Paragliders Grounded

Paragliders or other powered vehicles capable of flight have joined traditional aircraft banned in the harvest of game in Idaho's hunting rules.

Gliders that have been modified to accept motors but are not listed as aircraft by federal aviation authorities could have slipped through a loophole in the Idaho law. Reports of their use in game harvest had made it to the ears of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission before its March meeting in Boise.

On a motion by Commissioner Don Clower, the Commission unanimously voted to close the loophole. The ban applies to communication from fliers to hunters on the ground in all instances.

Prepare Your Boat Trailer For The Boating Season

I understand it is 71 degrees in Boise as I write this. Hopefully the folks in Southern Idaho already have their boats ready for the boating season. Judging by the view outside, Panhandle boaters have some time yet to get prepared for the upcoming boating season. At the same time, it is not too early to be preparing for the great fishing, water skiing and other outdoor activities that lie ahead.

Dave Crettoll, Boating Education Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has some tips he passed on to me about boat trailers. He says they are among the most often neglected items when it comes to boating. I have added some of my own observations in an effort to provide a complete guide on preparing your boat for the boating season.

Begin at the tongue of the trailer, checking the safety chain. The chain should be made of high quality heavy steel. Believe it or not, Dave has seen people with the decorative chains that are used to dress up chandeliers, on their boats! Anyone counting on these cheesy links to keep their boat attached to the truck could be very sorry.

Make certain the chain, the point of attachment to the trailer, and the hooks are secure and that the chain is of the proper length. The chains should be long enough to cross under the tongue, but not so long they drag on the ground. The chains are crossed under the tongue so that if the ball attachment or coupling fail for any reason, the chains will cradle the tongue and keep the boat attached until you can get off the road to fix the problem. It is critical the chains are strong, secure, and properly applied to assure safety.

Hunter Education Class Spaces Still Available

Official registration for spring rifle hunter education classes ended on March 1. Some of these classes will be offered until the end of May. There are spaces still open in many classes, and individuals may continue to register for them through the Magic Valley Region's Fish and Game Jerome office.

Basic rifle hunter education class slots are still available in the following cities: Burley, Hailey, Gooding, Twin Falls, Buhl, Carey and Shoshone. The leftover slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

To find out more about specific dates, times and locations for the class, contact the Jerome Fish and Game office at 324-4359 or visit at 868 E. Main. Cost per student per class is $8.00. Spaces are not guaranteed until this office receives full payment for the course.

Daily Steelhead Limit Hits Five

Idaho steelhead anglers now have a chance at something they have never seenãoa five-fish daily limit.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the new limits at its Boise meeting March 13-15. The new limits apply through the end of this spring steelhead fishing season, April 30, only in the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

The current forecast calls for a total run count of about 271,000 fish. The 10-year average is 84,700 steelhead. Last yearÁ_s count was 115,000. About 72 percent of the run is made up of hatchery A-run fish.

About 12,000 fish are headed back to the Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries while only 2,500 are needed for hatchery programs. Besides hatchery broodstock, 1,000,000 steelhead eggs will go to the tribal egg box program. Excess adults will be outplanted to tributaries of the Salmon River for steelhead supplementation research for other sites approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Commission changed limits to five per day, 15 in possession, and 60 per season. A second and third permit would be required to take 60 fish in the season.

Fishing boundaries were changed to open the Salmon River from Redfish Lake Creek to a posted boundary 100 yards downstream from the Sawtooth hatchery weir (about two miles).

The Clearwater and Snake River drainages have limits of three steelhead per day, nine in possession and 40 for the season.