Press Release

August 2002

Black Bear, Mountain Lion Seasons Open

Black bear and mountain lion seasons opened in most Idaho game management units August 30, with others to open September 15. They close at various dates, and in some units lion seasons close after a certain number of female lions have been killed. To learn which units are closed, check the Fish and Game website at this link:

or call 1-800-323-4334.

Second bear and lion tags are available for hunters in part of units 10 and 16 and all of units 12, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 26 and 27. In these units, the price of nonresident bear and lion tags is reduced to $31.50. The prices were dropped to encourage harvest in these units, which have a surplus of bears and lions and where nonresident harvest has been traditionally low. The daily bag limit on bears and lions in these areas is the number of bears and lions for which a hunter posesses legal tags. Units 10 and 12 are part of an ongoing study to see if reductions in the number of bears and lions will help build elk herds.

Resident or nonresident hunters may buy a deer or elk tag at nonresident prices out of the pool of unsold nonresident tags. The deer tag may be used to tag a deer, black bear or mountain lion.

Bait is allowed in most units for hunting black bears only. The required $11.50 permit is available only at Fish and Game offices.

Fish and Game Hunting Issue Online Now

The hunting issue of "Incredible Idaho," the website magazine of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, is online now at

The magazine features an article by Robby Denning of Idaho Falls on how to find big mule deer bucks in general season hunts. Denning owns a business which pre-scouts areas for hunters, then provides maps and information. He ought to know!

Get the latest on population research being done on Idaho's Clearwater elk herd, with a sidebar on biologist Michael Gratson, who died in a helicopter crash in December of 2000, and the scholarship fund in his memory at the University of Idaho.

You can learn about first aid for your bird dog, the status of bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon, get a forecast for waterfowl season, and much more, all in this issue. A bonus fishing section in this hunting issue reviews the summer's salmon seasons and the economic impact salmon fishing has on Idaho.

Regular features include regional roundups, law enforcement stories, news of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, recipes and a column by Fish and Game director Steve Huffaker.

The next issue, currently scheduled for November, will feature wildlife in winter.

How Some Teachers Spent Their Summer Vacation

By Evin Oneale, Southwest Regional Conservation Educator

If WILD teachers were asked to write an essay on Ôhow I spent my summer vacation' they would have stories to tell.

They teach mathematics, English, social studies and science nine months out of the year. And like their students, when summer comes, they are off on other adventures. Many teachers choose to add to their teaching certifications by taking classes during the summer. One such class on Idaho's wildlife had teachers bursting with excitement.

"This is fabulous," said Tom Haener, a teacher from Boise. "I've never got to grab a live salmon in my life. And anyway, 99% of the population hasn't had the opportunity, and it's such an amazing creature."

Tom Haener was one of 26 teachers who took part in an advanced WILD workshop in McCall this summer. They learned about bears, bats, elk, salmon, birds of prey, reptiles and wolves. The goal of Project WILD is to help teachers use young people's natural curiosity about wildlife to engage them in the standard school subjects of math, English, social studies and science. The first step is to turn teachers on to Idaho's wildlife.

"I'm going to go home and tell them I caught a salmon and released him into the wild, and crawled into a bear den," said Kathy Fields from Ohio. "It's a great opportunity out here to enjoy this part of the country and learn about wildlife."

Teachers spent the fourth day of the workshop learning about the life cycle of chinook salmon. The highlight of the day came when teachers stepped into the sorting pit at the South Fork Salmon River salmon trap to sort hatchery and wild salmon.

"You think you should handle it, but when you feel how slippery they are and they start squirming around! Really fun," said Kathy Fields.

Columbia River Chinook Fishing

By Harry Morse,Southeast Regional Conservation Educator

Editors note: Like many Idaho anglers, Harry and two co-workers headed for the coast for some big-water chinook fishing. This feature is their story.

Watching the giant Chinook salmon at the Bonneville Dam Viewing Area

put me in a trance. Once thousands of these magnificent fish came

to Idaho to be stopped only by Shoshone Falls. But not any more. The great

fall runs of chinook salmon in Idaho are gone.

We just spent four days salmon fishing at the mouth of the Columbia

River for fall chinook. Now we were watching the very fish we tried to catch.

It was one step further up the rivers navigating the first of many dams and

eluding thousands of anglers trying to catch them.

Lets Go Fishing!

Did you ever pay $34 to camp at a roadside rest and be happy to have a

spot? Or how about $4.99 for a small box of Wheat Thin crackers or wait in

line with hundreds of other boaters to launch your boat? The line of vehicles pulling boats stretched over a mile and blocked traffic on the local highway.

Welcome to salmon fishing at Buoy 10, one of the hottest places on the

west coast to cast a line. Also one of the most crowded. The fish are big and bright. Fish that draw anglers from over thousands of miles away to feel the thrill of the line ripping line off their reel.

"Which way do we go?" asked Dick Scully as we glided out of the boat

basin area into the Columbia.

The mouth of the Columbia River is over three miles wide with mudflats,

sandbanks and river channels on both the Oregon and Washington sides.

"Follow the boats out the channel and then we will go down to the mouth

and fish the incoming tide," I said.

This was a new experience for fisheries biologists Dick Scully and Dave

Ask Fish and Game

Q: I would like to have some clarification on what the definition of sunrise is and when it is legal to shoot. Does Fish and Game recognize sunrise as it is listed in the paper, on the news or is it the time that daylight breaks in the field?

A: Specific shooting times are listed in the upland game regulations for Canada geese, mourning doves and sandhill cranes. The waterfowl regulations have specific shooting times listed for ducks and geese. All these migratory birds' shooting hours run from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Big game, upland game and upland bird hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Calculate big game starting times from the official time as listed in the paper or on the news instead of "daylight breaking." On the first day of pheasant season in southern Idaho, the season opens at noon, so that is when shooting hours start.

Idfg & Usfs Joint Orv Patrols On Caribou-Targhee National Forest

IDAHO FALLS - Managing natural resources is often not so much about cutting trees or counting elk, it's about managing how people utilize those resources. Once again this fall, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) will be working together to educate the public regarding the proper use of Off-Road Vehicles (ORV) in the great outdoors. Recent studies show that an increasing number of sportsmen use ORVs to enhance some portion of their outdoor experience, IDFG & USFS are working together to make sure that the increased usage does not have a detrimental effect on other sportsmen, wildlife or the environment.

The very acronym ORV, "Off Road Vehicle" belies the roots of the growing problem. Today's machines can go just about anywhere and are bigger, faster, and more plentiful than their predecessors. Unfortunately, some individuals choose to break the law and take them off designated routes and into areas where they scar the land, disturb other hunters, and spook the wild game.

On the Targhee portion of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest the rules regarding proper ORV use are very straightforward. On the Targhee, all routes are closed unless posted open. On the Caribou, ORV users need to stay on designated routes. Over the past few years the Forest has worked to simplify and increase signage, so that no doubt should exist regarding the access status of a given area. In many cases, off-road travel is actually permitted at certain times of the year, but it important that forest users have the most current version of the travel plan map so they understand what method of locomotion is allowed at that specific time of the year. Travel plans for the forests are available at local ranger district offices throughout the eastern portion of the State. Travel plans for the Targhee are free, plans for Caribou cost $7.00.

2002 Drought Conditions In Yellowstone Ecosystem Highlight Need To Minimize Conflicts Between Bears

IDAHO FALLS - The Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Management Subcommittee, which represents the state and federal agencies responsible for recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, reported today that dry conditions in much of the Yellowstone area during 2002 will lead to widespread bear activity and increased chance of bear/human encounters during the fall. Reg Rothwell, chair of the subcommittee said, "private landowners, hunters and other recreationists within the ecosystem should be especially careful this year because grizzly bears will be very active between now and the time they enter their dens." He warned that people should be particularly careful about making sure that food and other attractants are secured and unavailable to grizzly bears.

The status of late summer and fall foods appears to be mixed this year. Bears in the northern part of the ecosystem entered the summer in good physical condition due to the early season use of whitebark pine cones leftover from last year's very good cone crop. However, whitebark pine surveys, which are conducted each year across the ecosystem to assess seed production, indicate low levels of cone production for 2002. Whitebark pine is one of the most important fall food sources for grizzly bears. The number of grizzly bear-human conflicts and management actions tend to increase during years of low cone production.

Rothwell reported, "In the southeastern corner of the ecosystem, an apparent abundance of army cutworm moths may likely help offset the poor whitebark cone production during early fall." Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists have seen large numbers of grizzly bears feeding at moth aggregation sites since mid July. Although army cutworm moths are an annoyance to many people during their early summer migration from croplands on the Great Plains to high elevations in the mountains, they are an important, high energy, late summer food for grizzly bears.

Steelhead Season Opens September 1

The Idaho fall steelhead season begins September 1 with a run of fish that may be twice as good as the average.

Steelhead cannot be kept on the Clearwater River until October 15. Only steelhead with a clipped adipose fin may be kept on any Idaho water. All steelhead with an intact adipose fin are either naturally produced fish or hatchery fish which have been left unclipped for experimental purposes to help rebuild natural production, and must be released unharmed immediately.

Steelhead fishing usually attracts few anglers until river water temperatures drop enough to encourage fishable numbers of steelhead to run actively upstream, normally early to mid-October.

According to early predictions, about 170,000 steelhead could be on their way to Lower Granite Dam, the last barrier before entering Idaho fishing waters. If that figure holds up, it will be about twice the 10-year average, subtracting last year's epic run. About 85,000 steelhead at Lower Granite Dam is the average, without considering the 260,000 that showed up last year.

Last year's steelhead run overwhelmed Idaho hatcheries and provided some of the best steelheading anglers could remember. The predicted run this year would be about 66 percent of last year's. More than 400,000 steelhead are predicted to enter the Columbia River at Bonneville Dam this fall.

Steelhead anglers must have a fishing license and a steelhead tag ($11.50). The tag is notched immediately when a steelhead is taken into an angler's possession. Nonresidents need either a full season license ($74.50) and a permit or a three-day license/permit ($28.50).

Limits are two steelhead per day, four in possession and 10 for the season, which ends December 31.

Steelhead may be taken only with barbless hooks on the Salmon, Snake and Clearwater drainages. Only one fishing rod may be used for steelhead fishing, even if the angler has a two-pole validation.

Dove, Forest Grouse, Rabbit Seasons Begin September 1

Hunters will take to the field for the fall of 2002 on September 1 when seasons open for mourning doves, forest grouse and rabbits.

Dove hunting ends September 30 while forest grouse may be hunted through the end of the year and rabbit season lasts through February of the new year. The season on snowshoe hare extends to the end of March. There is no open season on pygmy rabbits.

In addition to a hunting license, dove hunters need a $1.50 migratory bird permit, available at all Fish and Game offices and at license vendors. As with other migratory birds, doves may be hunted only with shotguns holding a maximum of three shells. Shotguns capable of holding more than three shells must be plugged.

Seasons for quail, sage grouse and partridge begin September 21. Sharp-tailed grouse hunting runs through the month of October. Pheasant hunting begins October 12 in northern Idaho and October 19 in the rest of the state.

Hunters should read the current rulebook with particular attention to the species and area of interest to them. The booklets are available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices, and on the Internet at

Season ending dates and limits vary for sage grouse depending on area. The rulebook explains those variations. A sage grouse/sharp-tailed grouse hunting permit is required.

Montpelier Conservation Officer Recognized

Hard work does pay off.

District Conservation Officer Blake Phillips recently received the Idaho Wildlife Officer of The Year Award from Shikar-Safari Club. The award presented by the international conservation group recognizes excellence in the field of protecting wildlife and diligence in law enforcement.

"Phillips is an outstanding officer and has an excellent record in detecting wildlife violations and getting the evidence to make not only the arrest, but also the conviction," the Shikar-Safari Club award said. "It is our honor to award Phillips for his continued outstanding work."

Phillips is stationed in Montpelier, next to the Utah border. One of his first challenges upon being assigned there was to establish positive working relations with the court system. Once his credibility and diligence were established in local communities and courts, the word spread that fish and game violations would not be condoned and poachers faced stiff fines and penalties.

Superb elk and deer hunting in his region brought with it non-resident hunters posing as residents to save money on license fees. Licenses were illegally purchased over the Internet and at vendors throughout the state making detection extremely difficult. Hours of tracking paperwork, days of computer work and hundreds of phone calls led to the arrest of 121 cases of wrong-class license purchases. This saved the state more than $30,000.

Cases involving illegal guiding and taking trophy-class deer and elk out of season required working with other states from California to New York. Recent investigations into a group of Californians hunting illegally ended in arrests in Redding, California with significant fines and penalties.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Why can't I exchange my spring turkey tag for a fall turkey tag if I didn't harvest in the spring?

A. Turkey tags are no longer exchangeable except in the following cases:

The spring turkey tag can be exchanged for a spring controlled turkey hunt.

The late spring/fall turkey tag can be exchanged for a fall controlled turkey hunt.

Commission Approves CWD Policy, FY04 Budget

Meeting by conference call August 16, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to support the current Fish and Game Department policy of refusing approval of permits for importation of wild deer or elk into Idaho, due to the threat of chronic wasting disease. Fish and Game has no jurisdiction over domestic (game farm) deer or elk.

The Commission also approved an exchange of a half-acre of land at the Edson Fichter Management Area at Pocatello to a neighboring landowner for an easement to bury an irrigation pipeline across the landowner's property.

The Commission approved a $72,544,483 budget proposal for fiscal year 2004. This includes funds from licenses, federal sources, grants, timber sales and mitigation. The proposal next goes to the state Division of Financial Management for approval or amendment by the Governor. The approved version will be considered by the legislature in 2003.