Press Release

June 2002

Commission to Meet in McCall July 18-19

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet at the Best Western in McCall

July 18-19.

The session will begin at 1 p.m. on July 17 with a workshop on wolves for commission members. Fisheries bureau chief Virgil Moore and a citizens advisory committee will report on the status of fisheries on Lake Pend Oreille at 5 p.m.

Items slated for action include setting direction for expenditure of Animal Damage Control funds, approving a mountain lion management plan, and setting final rules for this fall's upland hunting seasons.

The Commission will also hear a number of reports including legislative proposals, the waterfowl forecast, plans for implementing hunter education for 10-year-olds, and an update on the Access Idaho program.

Chinook Come to Boise River

Anglers can enjoy fishing for hatchery chinook again in downtown Boise.

The season on hatchery chinook salmon in the Boise River began June 29 and will run through September 3.

Fishing is allowed 24 hours per day in the Boise River. A valid fishing license and salmon permit must be in possession when fishing. Limits are two per day and six in possession. Barbless hooks are not required for chinook fishing on the Boise River because the river no longer has any wild fish.

The Commission also increased the statewide season limit on hatchery salmon to 40, if the angler purchases a second salmon permit.

Fish and Game moved 502 fish from the Rapid River hatchery to the Boise, releasing them in locations from the Glenwood Bridge to Barber Dam. Six salmon were placed into the Nature Center at Fish and Game headquarters so the public can enjoy watching them in the viewing windows there.

Releases took place prior to the opening in order to avoid the Boise River Festival. Some are being released in the Little Salmon River to give a boost to that ongoing salmon season. Some are also released in historic habitat to spawn naturally.

To date about 3,700 hatchery chinook salmon have returned to Rapid River hatchery, but only 3,000 are needed for the hatchery program. The hatchery was built by Idaho Power Company to mitigate for natural salmon runs eliminated when the Hells Canyon hydropower dam complex was built.

Volunteer Effort Receives Boost

Volunteers have been beavering away for several years to improve steelhead and salmon habitat on the Little Salmon River but the work will go a lot faster now that federal fisheries funds have been granted to the project.

The volunteer effort, led by Volunteer Service Coordinator Mary Dudley, has involved dozens of workers donating time, equipment and materials to improve fish habitat along the Little Salmon for the last several years. Dudley applied to the National Marine Fisheries Service last year for a grant to expand the effort. Dudley's application was one of the few approved by the federal fisheries agency.

The grant of $35,000 will triple the budget Dudley has had, she said. One of several uses for the money includes the purchase of a machine to make planting willows along the river faster.

Dudley said the grant will help her use more volunteers and to speed the work to improve fish habitat along the Little Salmon.

The Little Salmon River is important to steelhead and salmon runs as well as to the anglers who enjoy fishing the southwest Idaho stream.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. How do I find out what controlled hunt leftover permits are available?

A. License vendors can print out a list for you. Or, you can go to the Fish and Game web site at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/hunt/ch/leftover.htm for a list. Leftover controlled hunt permits go on sale at 10 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, 9 a.m. Pacific, July 15.

July Fish & Game Breakfast Meeting Cancelled

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds hunters and anglers that the July 2 breakfast meeting has been cancelled. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, beginning at 6:30 a.m. at the Helm restaurant in Lewiston.

"We'll buy the coffee, and we hope local hunters and anglers bring their questions and comments," said Cal Groen, Clearwater Region Supervisor.

Wildlife depredations, enforcement cases and predictions for the early goose, steelhead and upland bird seasons are some of the topics on the breakfast forum agenda. Other fish and wildlife-related topics of interest will be discussed as well. Sportsmen's club representatives are also invited to give reports of their club's activities.

The breakfast meetings are open to anyone with fish and wildlife related questions, and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the area. The breakfasts run from 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m., and are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant.

Zebra Warning Issued

The zebra mussel, a small freshwater mollusk native to the Caspian and Black seas, has infested rivers in the eastern United States and now threatens to ride the Lewis and Clark Trail into western streams.

Federal agencies are urging all boaters to examine their craft for the prolific pests and report sitings immediately on a hotline.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is distributing brochures and providing the hotline so that vigilant boaters and marine operators can report sightings of zebra mussels or any aquatic nuisance species in 17 western states. The number is: (800) 437-2744. The telephone is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Agencies on an aquatic nuisance task force are concerned that boats following the Lewis and Clark Trail will be traveling from Midwestern rivers where the mussels already live. Without careful inspection, these boats could easily bring the mussels to the West and the Columbia River Basin.

"I can't overemphasize the threat posed by these creatures," said Andy Thoms, BPA biologist and aquatic nuisance species coordinator. "They are right out of a bad horror movie - they multiply like crazy, they are difficult to kill and they eat voraciously.

They consume the microscopic base of the food chain and can upset the entire ecology of a lake or stream. They'll attach themselves to almost anything that will hold still, including other shellfish."

Zebra mussels range in size from microscopic to almost two inches and are identified by their alternating dark and light stripes. Thoms said the mussels can clog water intakes and encrust boat hulls and almost any surface. They encounter no significant predators in Northwest waters. It turns out most of the mussels' natural enemies would also be undesirable in the region.

Trees Provide Home Comfort

A wood fire goes a long way to making a house a cozy home, but woodcutters might also think of their neighbors while cutting a winter wood supply.

Many firewood collectors do not recognize the value of the partially or completely dead standing trees they see in the forest. These woodland features, called snags, support a complex system of life. By understanding a little about snags, people who appreciate Idaho's wildlands come to value them and leave some here and there, changing their woodcutting habits to benefit wildlife.

In Idaho, about 50 species of birds and 25 species of mammals nest, roost, forage or take shelter in snags. Artificial snags are now being placed in many places that have lost snags. At Wolf Bay in the Panhandle, artificial snags create hunting perches for bald eagles which frequent the area in the late winter to feed on kokanee salmon, as many of the natural snags have been removed during road construction in the area. Plants and invertebrates also benefit from snags, which eventually fall and provide watershed protection and the nutrients that create rich forest soils.

Many of the snags woodcutters fell are left on the ground because they are too far decayed to make good firewood. This only speeds up the process of the snag becoming a soil enhancement, by dropping it before or while it provided a home for wildlife.

Before dropping a snag, look for any fungal growth on the main trunk. If you see any, there are better, more solid trees around to heat your home as this snag has already begun to decay and will soon be a home for wildlife. Look for any signs of current wildlife use such as nesting cavities or signs of roosting. Woodpecker holes indicate there are many insects already inhabiting the tree, and insects are the last thing you want to bring into your home. Leaving such trees standing will benefit wildlife.

Fish and Game Wins Wildlife Film Festival Award

Three Fish and Game wildlife videos produced for school children garnered a Merit Award for Educational Value from the 25th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival.

"Awards are given by the International Wildlife Film Festival to those selected productions that strive for excellence in the areas of biological diversity, technical achievement, aesthetic presentation and educational value," according to Katie Fernandes, Festival Coordinator.

The videos, WILD About Wetlands, WILD About Bison and WILD About Moose, were written and produced by Idaho Department of Fish and Game for the state's teachers to use in their classrooms. The 10-minute videos are part of a "WILD" series that profiles either a type of habitat or a specific species. Children learn basic biology and scientific terms while viewing the wonders of nature.

"Our WILD videos are a great tool for teaching the next generation about our wonderful wildlife heritage. We're proud of our product and delighted to earn the recognition of such a prestigious organization as the International Wildlife Film Festival," said Ingrid Bolen, Chief of Information and Education for Fish and Game.

Another Dry Year for Fisheries

A dry spring across southern Idaho may be signaling another tough year for fisheries.

A detailed article on the impacts of drought on fish can be found in the current issue of Fish and Game's web magazine at www2.state.id.us/fishgame in Incredible Idaho. The following is an abbreviated version of Vicky Osborn's article:

Drought. This one word captures the slow, painful experience of a landscape shriveling up from lack of water. Not much is spared and not much can be done about it.

Agriculture interests learned to stave off drought by building reservoirs to trap snow melt and spring rains for when water was needed another day. But even reservoirs are vulnerable to drought. In 2001, five reservoirs were completely drained to meet irrigation demands. Other reservoirs were severely drawn down.There simply wasn't enough water to go around and many farmers and ranchers chose not to fight the drought. Instead of using their water to irrigate crops, they leased their share of the water to Idaho Power for generating electricity.

When drought overwhelms Idaho, people aren't the only ones who lose. Many reservoirs support local fisheries, especially in southern Idaho. Last summer, many popular fisheries were lost when reservoirs dried up, fisheries suffered when stream flows fell dangerously low, and wild native fish populations dropped as well. Idaho Fish and Game's attempts to maintain the state's valuable fisheries set in motion a complex juggling act.

Lion Plan Outlined

Open houses on the draft mountain lion management plan are set for the regional office in Nampa and the office in McCall on Tuesday, June 25 from 4 - 7 PM.

Copies of the draft plan will be available at the open house or may be obtained prior to the open houses at the front desk in the region or at Headquarters.

The draft may also be viewed at our IDFG website at: http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/Hunt/ProgramsInfo/mtnlion/index.htm

Comments may be submitted online through the website or in writing through the regional office or headquarters. Preferably, comments should be submitted by June 30 to allow time to summarize those comments for presentation to the commission at its July 17-19 meeting in McCall.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I heard something about placing a rock or stick in the mouth of a bear as soon as it's shot so Fish and Game people can remove a tooth more easily. Is this required?

A. Nope, not required. However, this practice would save some time and sweat when it comes time to check your bear in with the department.

A premolar is taken to help biologists keep track of the age of bears taken in Idaho hunting seasons. It's a matter of scientifically managing bear populations. Age information is shared with the hunter.

Hunters could help out a little by keeping their bears' mouths open. Freezing and rigor mortis can make it difficult to take a tooth.

Hunters Can Look Up Hunt Draw, Tags Available

Hunters who applied for deer, elk, antelope, bear and turkey controlled hunts for this fall can check on their luck of the draw online now.

To go directly to the lookup page on the Idaho Fish and Game web site, use http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/hunt/ch/results/bgt.cfm as the address. The page can also be found from the home page through the hunting section, controlled hunts.

Successful hunters will be notified by mail.

Controlled hunt tags, with the exception of extra deer tags, are available now from license vendors as well as Fish and Game offices. Extra deer tags will go on sale July 10.