Press Release

April 2002

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day

Learn about the fascinating world of migratory birds by attending the International Migratory Bird Day Celebration to be held Saturday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area next to the Idaho Fish and Game office, 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston.

A variety of activities, demonstrations, field trips and educational materials related to bird conservation will be featured. Highlights include hits for landscaping your property to benefit birds, mist-netting and banding demonstration, bird box building, review of bird books and field guides, birding software demonstration and more.

Guided field tours include the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area to discuss landscaping for wildlife; and Mann Lake to view shorebirds, waterfowl and a variety of other species. For more information contact Rita Dixon, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 208-799-5010 or rdixon@idfg.state.id.us.

Sponsors include Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Palouse Audubon Society, Canyon Birders and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Hatchery Steelhead Paradigm Shift

Some Idaho steelhead anglers will need to adjust their thinking about which fish can be kept and why in the next few years as a small but noticeable shift in the harvest management program takes hold. This shift is the result of a settlement negotiated between the Idaho, Washington, Oregon, the federal government, and the Columbia Treaty Tribes that reduces tribal harvest rates in the gillnet fisheries in the lower Columbia River but requires more steelhead smolts produced in Idaho's hatcheries be released without an adipose fin clip.

This agreement was reached a few years ago and provides that the treaty tribes gillnetting in the lower Columbia River reduce their fall harvest rate of steelhead. Federally funded steelhead hatcheries in Idaho will in turn release approximately 2 percent of their smolts without an adipose fin clip. These fish are being tracked through the treaty and non-treaty Columbia and Snake River fisheries, and are not counted as wild fish.

These unmarked fish will be released into Lolo Creek, the Little Salmon River, the South Fork Clearwater River, and several streams in Washington and Oregon as a part of a continuing experiment to test if stocking large numbers of smolts in a drainage can boost natural populations of steelhead. These drainages were chosen because they have a history of hatchery steelhead influence, and therefore pose a low risk of negative impacts to true native steelhead areas.

The Little Salmon and South Fork Clearwater Rivers are very popular spring steelhead fishing streams, and anglers will ultimately catch some of these unmarked hatchery steelhead. While only 2 percent of the Idaho hatchery steelhead production will be released unmarked, up to 20 percent of the smolts released in these two streams will be unmarked. This is a significant change in the harvest program for these two drainages.

Troy-Deary Youth Hunting Clinic Scheduled

DEARY - - Area youth interested in learning hunting and outdoor skills are invited to attend the 9th annual Youth Hunting Clinic, sponsored by the Troy-Deary Gun Club, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Latah Wildlife Association. The clinic will be held Saturday, May 12, and is open to any youth ages 11-17.

The clinic will expose the youth to various methods of hunting, outdoor skills and safety. Participants will have the opportunity to shoot archery, muzzleloaders, shotguns and small boar rifles. Other activities include animal tracking, wildlife identification, animal calling and turkey hunting.

The clinic will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Troy-Deary Gun Club range located six miles east of Troy on Highway 8. Lunches and drinks will be provided. Space is limited, and participants must pre-register by calling IDFG, 799-5010, by May 9th.

No prior knowledge or experience in firearms is needed to participate. Parents of students are encouraged to participate, but adult volunteers will be available to assist if an accompanying adult is unable to attend.

Other generous sponsors include Potlatch Corporation, Tri-State Outfitters, Bryden Pawn Shop, Wal Mart, Pepsi and Blount, Inc.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Report

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 80,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during May.

LOCATION NUMBER OF TROUT

Boise River (Boise) 4,000

Boise River (Eagle to Middleton) 2,000

Caldwell Pond #1 250

Caldwell Pond #2 250

Cascade Reservoir 20,000

Crooked River 500

Duff Lane Pond 250

Ed's Pond (Emmett) 250

Grimes Creek 500

Little Payette Lake 10,000

Little Wood River 5,000

Lost Valley Reservoir 20,000

Marsing Pond 600

McDevitt Pond 500

Mill Pond (Horseshoe Bend) 500

Mores Creek 800

Park Center Pond 1,500

Payette River, Middle Fork 750

Quinn's Pond 1,100

Riverside Pond 500

Rotary Pond (Caldwell) 500

Sagehen Reservoir 5,000

Sawyer's Pond 500

Silver Creek 750

Veteran's Park Pond 1,100

Wilson Spring 500

Wilson Spring Ponds 2,500

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.

Apply Now for Elk, Deer, Antelope and Bear Controlled Hunts

Controlled hunt applications for deer, elk, antelope and black bear can be filed through the last day of May.

Hunters can find application forms in the big game proclamation booklet recently delivered to license vendors and Fish and Game offices statewide. Hunting rules and seasons can also be found online at www2.state.id.us/fishgame where hunters will be able to apply for hunts with the use of a credit card.

Applications can be made through the Point of Sale Machine (POSM) system at more than 400 license vendors statewide as well as at Fish and Game offices. Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than May 31 and sent to IDFG, Licensing, P.O. Box 25, Boise, Idaho 83707. Applications can be filed by calling 1-800-554-8685.

Applicants using the web site or phone system will be charged a 3% of the transaction plus $3.50 convenience fee by the contractors who handle those systems, in addition to the $6.50 application fee. A credit card is required for those using computer or phone. Applications mailed to Fish and Game should be accompanied by a check or money order. Fish and Game cannot accept credit card payment.

Hunters must have a hunting license before applying for controlled hunts.

License, application fees and tags cost the same as last year.

Steelhead Season Extended, Salmon Starting Slow

Meeting in Moscow April 25-26, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to extend the steelhead season on the Little Salmon River through May 31.

Sharon Kiefer, anadromous fisheries manager, told the Commission that a large number of steelhead are still in the Little Salmon and will not be used in the hatchery program. Anglers have been catching steelhead there at a rate of three to five hours per fish, comparable to the best fall fishing. The season was to have ended there April 30.

Idaho anglers have enjoyed the largest run of hatchery steelhead on record, about three times the 10-year average, in the 2001-2002 run.

In most years, few steelhead are still found in the Little Salmon at the end of the season and the water is traditionally closed to protect salmon runs. With ample fish and the salmon season already underway, there is no reason to halt steelhead fishing on the Little Salmon until the end of May.

Kiefer told the Commission that the current projection for salmon coming over Lower Granite Dam into Idaho is 50,200 spring chinook of which about 33,000 will be hatchery fish. The Clearwater drainage should have about 16,000 adipose fin-clipped salmon of which 5,900 will be the state recreational fishery share. The projection for the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers is 10,400 of which 4,100 should be available to anglers.

Though these numbers are not as high as projections made late last year and are far below the numbers in last year's unprecedented chinook run, Idaho will still have more salmon available to recreational anglers than all of southeast Alaska has, Kiefer noted.

The first salmon fishing seasons opened April 20. Few chinook are coming into Idaho rivers yet, however, because of high flows and cool water temperatures. 117,043 have crossed Bonneville Dam and only 786 have come over Lower Granite Dam, but this recent surge indicates the run is on its way to Idaho now.

Upland Game, Furbearer Rules Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved seasons and rules for the upcoming upland game and furbearer season at its meeting in Moscow April 25-26.

Changes for the new seasons affecting upland game birds and animals, crows, falconry, early goose seasons, sandhill crane seasons, and dove season include the following:

Opening the Big Desert (Area 2 north and south of INEEL) and Birch Creek (Area 2) for sage grouse and closing the Curlew Grasslands for sage grousebecause of population declines (Power, Cassia and Oneida counties south of Interstate 86 and north and east of Interstate 84). No change is planned for sharptails. Required sage grouse and sharp-tailed grousepermit would continue as it provides a valuable source of hunters to respond to research needs.

Extending the pheasant season in the Magic Valley to December 31 except in Minidoka and Cassia counties; adding Niagara Springs WMA to the WMA pheasant permit system; increasing the bag and possession limits to three and six on WMAs and for the youth pheasant season.

No change was proposed for forest grouse.

Quail season will be opened in the Panhandle Region and it will be added to "Area 2." No change was proposed for chukar and gray partridges.

Rabbit and hare seasons will be unchanged except for closure of the pygmy rabbit season (a species of special concern in Idaho of undetermined status; this would apply in falconry rules also). No other changes proposed for falconry (sage grouse falconry season on Curlew would also close), crows or doves.

The Clearwater early goose season will be expanded to include all of Nez Perce County September 7-13. The Mann Lake closure will include all of the lake and 300 yards beyond the Bureau of Reclamation boundary.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. When I apply for a controlled hunt, do I have to have a hunting license first? Do I get my license fee back if I don't draw the hunt I want?

A. A hunting license is required for anyone applying for a controlled hunt. Once you buy the license, you are the proud owner regardless of your luck in the draw.

IDFG Breakfast Forum At Helm Restaurant

LEWISTON - - Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to the monthly Idaho Department of Fish and Game breakfast meeting at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston, Tuesday May 7, at 6:30 a.m.

The meeting agenda will include reports on the spring steelhead season results and upcoming salmon seasons predictions, turkey and bear seasons, enforcement activities and more. Local sportsmen's clubs will also give reports of current activities.

The breakfasts are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant in Lewiston. They 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.

Enjoyable Fishing Should Start With Boat Preparation

LEWISTON - - With the warm spring weather finding many Idaho anglers out enjoying many of the state's lakes, reservoirs and rivers, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages boat anglers to prevent a fine day on the water from turning into a miserable experience, some simple but important boat maintenance is required.

"It's important to ensure that everything works properly and all safety gear is in order before getting on the water," said Rick Cooper, conservation officer with Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Lewiston.

IDFG provides the following boat preparation tips:

Officers Nab Kamiah Man Poaching Steelhead

KAMIAH - - The plan was to club the steelhead, throw it in the truck and then travel to camp and show off to friends. Unfortunately, the game wardens were watching the poacher from the bushes.

With the discovery of a bullet-riddled steelhead and several .22 rifle shells along Mill Creek, a tributary of the South Fork Clearwater River, Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers decided to watch the area in hopes of catching a law violator. All river tributaries in Idaho are closed to steelhead fishing to protect spawning adults.

Within minutes of concealing themselves along the Mill Creek road, IDFG officers Larry Willmott and Mike Demick watched a vehicle driven by Donald Massey stop and three individuals stepped out. Massey and a friend quickly ran to the creek, while one individual remained on the road. Within minutes, Massey and friend returned to the vehicle holding a struggling, wet steelhead.

IDFG officers Roy Kinner and Mike Dafoe arrived and assisted in questioning the three suspects. When first confronted, Massey told Willmott that he caught the steelhead in the South Fork twenty minutes prior to arriving along Mill Creek but forgot to validate his permit. However, after separating the suspects and interviewing them individually, one suspect signed a statement admitting that Massey caught the steelhead with his hands out of Mill Creek.

Massey pleaded guilty to possession of an unlawfully taken steelhead in Idaho County Court in April 2002. Massey was fined $171 and his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges were revoked for one year.

"We took a chance and it paid off this time," said Willmott. "We're spread pretty thin, but every once in a while, we are in the right place and the right time."

Bear Hunting Reminders

LEWISTON - - With spring black bear hunting season underway in the Clearwater Region, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds bear hunters that their unique sport has its own set of specialized regulations.

Hunters are reminded that certain units in the Clearwater Region are open to use of bait and dogs, while others are not. Hunters who have obtained permits to hunt over bait need to remember that all bait containers, materials and any structure constructed at bait sites must be removed within seven days after the close of the season.

The following person must have a valid hound hunter's permit when dogs are used to hunt:

  • Anyone who owns pursuit dogs/
  • Anyone having control of dogs owned by another person
  • Anyone who harvests a black bear with the use of dogs are required to have a valid hound hunting permit. Clients of licensed outfitters are not required to have a hound hunter permit.

Successful bear hunters are required to present both the skull and hide to an IDFG regional office, conservation officer or official checkpoint for removal of a premolar and have the pelt tagged within 10 days of the date of harvest. Successful hunters are also required to remove all bear meat from the field.

Though most of the high country is still buried in snow, the prospects for success look good according to Jay Crenshaw, wildlife manager based in Lewiston. "Access to some areas may be limited early, but serious hunters should do well again this year," he said.

Next year, hunters will have an additional two weeks to hunt the spring bruins with the IDFG commission voting to open the 2003 season on April 1.

Hunters can find rules for this spring's season in a copy of the 2001-2002 Big Game Regulation booklet available at license vendors and IDFG offices.