Press Release

October 2002

Sage Grouse Hunt Shows Some Encouraging Signs

Reports from sage grouse hunt check stations show some promising signs for a bird that has suffered serious declines. Hunters in most popular sage grouse hunting spots reported seeing more birds than they did last year and more juvenile birds showed up in hunters' bags, indicating improved success in nesting and rearing last spring. At a southeast Idaho check station that had not been run since 1995, the number of hunters had declined from 122 in 1995 to 37 this year, but birds taken per hunterÑ0.3Ñwas the same and hours hunted per bird in the bag was actually down from 15.5 to 13.5. Hunters who went to areas of old burns in the desert found virtually no birds while those who hunted remaining sagebrush areas along the Minidoka-Arco Road and around Big Butte did well. The last time a check station was run in the area, the limit was three birds; this fall the limit was one. In the Magic Valley, hunter success stayed the same as in 2001 and 2000 at an average of 0.51 birds per day hunted and hours hunted also stayed about the same. Hunters reported seeing more birds than they did in 1997 and 1998. The number of hunters was up in the Magic Valley from 874 last year to 1,034. Harvest went from 479 to 544. Juvenile birds per 100 females was up from 160 to 194, nearer the long-term average of 201. Hunting effort in areas where the limit was one sage grouse was extremely low. Hunters appeared happiest in the southwest where many said they had seen far more birds this fall than they had in a long time. Both hunter numbers and birds taken were up, but the birds per hunter was about the same as last year at one per hunter. Hours hunted per bird were down from last year 5 to 5.5.

Deer, Elk Openers Show Mixed Results

Deer hunting in southeast Idaho appears to be worse than the already low pre-season expectations, but early check station information in other areas of Idaho indicate big game hunting is about the same as last year. Game managers in southeast Idaho had predicted that deer hunters would have a tough time this fall because drought and harsh winter conditions severely reduced numbers of deer that would have been yearlings this fall. Young deer make up a large portion of the harvest in most hunting seasons. Early check station results indicate that other parts of the deer population were hit harder than anticipated. Elk numbers continue to be strong in the southeast. Despite warm, dry hunting conditions in most of the rest of the state, hunter success seemed to be about the same or better than last year. Hunter numbers and harvest in the southwest are difficult to compare to last year because of elk season date changes but hunter success rates ran slightly ahead of those in the 2001 season. Body condition observations indicate deer in the southwest, especially fawns, may not have the weight and body fat biologists would like to see. Body weight and fat is not far below the long-term average, however. Early indications in the Clearwater Region point toward improved hunting. The first three days at the Kooskia check station showed hunter success rising from 10.3 percent last year to 22.3 percent. The biggest increase came in the elk hunts where 21 came through the station this year, compared to seven last year.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I was right behind a truck the other day when it slammed into a deer. The deer was dead when I stopped to check on it and it made me wonder if I could keep the fresh kill. A. There is no provision in Idaho law for keeping roadkill and you do not want to be in possession of a dead deer out of season, no tag and so on. If you did keep a carcass, you would most likely wish you had not done so. Collisions with highway traffic usually leave carcasses sadly unusable for human consumption.

New Fish Ponds in the Treasure Valley

Two new fishing holes are now open and waiting to tempt Treasure Valley anglers. In early October, Fish and Game added Redwood Park pond and Eagle Island State Park pond to its urban trout stocking program. As with other Boise-area ponds, Redwood and Eagle Island will be stocked with catchable rainbow trout about every two weeks through the fall, winter and spring months. "In addition to fishing opportunities, both ponds are great places for families to picnic and spend quality time together," Fish and Game fisheries manager Jeff Dillon said. "Both the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Boise Parks and Recreation deserve praise for making these ponds available to Fish and Game for inclusion in the urban trout stocking program." Redwood Park, managed by Boise Parks and Recreation, is one of the newer neighborhood parks in west Boise. It is located off Ustick Road between Five Mile and Cloverdale. Turn south on Wildwood, then right on Ardyce. In addition to trout, the pond is home to largemouth bass and bluegill stocked by Fish and Game this past summer. "The warm water fish population will eventually be self-sustaining if anglers are willing to release most of them right now," Dillon noted. "If you want to take fish home for dinner, I'd encourage people to focus on the hatchery trout until the bass and bluegill become established." The pond at Eagle Island State Park was recently re-opened to fishing, and plans call for keeping the park open through the winter. Normal park hours and entrance fees will remain in effect, and access to portions of the pond's shoreline may be restricted to protect grass and other vegetation. Like the pond at Redwood Park, Eagle Island pond has a solid population of bass and bluegill to complement the regular rainbow trout stocking effort.

Commission Adopts CWD Action Plan

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has adopted an action plan to deal with the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Meeting in Pocatello October 3-4, the Commission unanimously approved the plan recommended by Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho's wildlife veterinarian, and the department's wildlife bureau. CWD is a rare but always fatal brain disease that affects deer and elk. The disease has been recognized in one region that includes parts of Colorado and Wyoming for more than 30 years. It has not been shown to affect livestock or humans but recent discoveries of CWD in western Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin as well as two Canadian provinces have raised questions among media and hunters. No case of CWD has ever been detected in Idaho despite monitoring since 1997. The Commission-adopted plan, however, is aimed at increasing the monitoring effort, preventing the introduction of the disease into Idaho, and dealing with it should CWD ever be found in the state. Under the plan, Fish and Game will no longer issue permits to bring live, wild deer or elk into Idaho. The Idaho Department of Agriculture, not Fish and Game, controls the import of captive deer and elk. Fish and Game will also work toward eliminating the feeding of wild deer and elk because concentration of animals could cause the spread of undetected CWD. Winter feeding operations tend to draw animals together from more than one herd area, allowing diseases to be carried back into widely scattered populations that would otherwise rarely mix. Fish and Game check station workers are taking 50-100 tissue samples in each region of Idaho during this hunting season. If CWD is found in a wild population outside a fenced facility or a captive population inside a facility, 50 deer in the immediate area would be tested. If those 50 deer test negative for CWD, the department would begin surveillance in the area and sample animals during the hunting season.

Elk Hunt Caps Remain the Same

Limits on the numbers of elk hunters in the five zones where caps have been set on tag numbers available will remain the same for the fall of 2003. In the Selway, Lolo, Elk City, Dworshak and Middle Fork elk hunting zones, the number of tags available has been limited by action of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Meeting in Pocatello October 3-4, the Commission voted to retain those caps at the same levels for next year as they were this fall. Caps on tags were established to bring herds back into line with Commission guidelines for healthy elk populations. The Commission decided to stay with the status quo in the Middle Fork Zone but with the provision that biologists do aerial counts in Unit 27 again this winter. The condition of the Unit 27 elk herd has been a particular concern to the Commission because adult bulls appear to be in decline even though yearling bulls have increased substantially in recent years. Commissioners began requiring last year that bull elk in Unit 27 have brow tines to be legal for shooting. Commissioner Fred Wood noted that bull elk hunting regulations have been changed for the Middle Fork Zone nearly every year since elk hunting zones were established. He suggested that keeping the rules the same for two or three years would allow biologists to learn what factors may be at work. Those factors could include the brow tine requirement, wolf predation or other reasons for changes in herds. Salmon Region big game biologist Tom Keegan said in his report to the Commission that there are more elk in the Middle Fork Zone than there were 15 years ago but that the zone has traditionally had a low density of elk and low productivity compared to other areas of Idaho. The number of elk taken in the zone spiked upward in the mid-1990s and has since declined to the 20-year average. Cow numbers are meeting Fish and Game objectives while bull numbers are somewhat below objectives but stable.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I heard about the albino moose in southeast Idaho. How often does anyone see one of these? A. In that particular population of moose, the occurrence of pure albino moose is just one animal in 100,000. Considering that Idaho does not have 100,000 moose at any one time, it is not a common sight.

IDFG Seeks Help In Solving Double Bull Moose Poaching In Grays Lake Area

BONE - Bone, Idaho may seem like the middle of nowhere, but it gets plenty of traffic, especially during the hunting season. Unfortunately, not everyone who visits the area is a sportsman; some that prowl the area are outright poachers and lawbreakers. Local IDFG conservation officers are seeking public assistance in solving a double bull moose poaching case that occurred earlier this month. According to Conservation Officer Eric Crawford, " The two bull moose were killed and just left to rot! One of the bulls had his antlers sawed off and the other still had its rack with a 46" spread." Because the animals were easily visible from a two-track road, it is possible that other activity in the area forced the wrong doers to move on before they could grab all their ill-gotten gains. Evidence found at the scene indicates that they may have bid a hasty retreat. The incident occurred in Bingham County near Horse Creek on Pine Mountain. The area is accessed via two-tracks that originate from the Long Valley Road, not far from Bone, Idaho. The violation was discovered by hunters who reported what they had seen when they passed through the Hillview check station last Sunday Not only is the person or person responsible for the killing and wasting of these animals guilty of violating a number of wildlife laws, according to Crawford, "The antlers left on the one bull should rate as trophy class with Boone & Crockett, so this could become a felony case." While officers collected forensic evidence, including animal tissue sample for DNA matching, the help of the general public is very much needed in helping produce a hot lead for this case of cold-blooded poaching. Persons with information should call the CAP (Citizens Against Poaching) Hotline at 1-800-632-5999. All callers remain confidential and cash rewards are possible.

Season Closed on Albino Moose

Idaho Fish and Game has been informed recently by the public and staff from the Southeast Region of an albino (white) cow moose with a dark-colored calf. Friday, Fish and Game Director Steve Huffaker signed a closure order to protect the moose. The albino has been seen on private land in Game Management Unit 76, where a season on moose opens October 15. Huffaker's order, which closed ONLY the season on white moose in the Southeast Region, was effective on October 11. The order termed the white moose a "unique and rare animal . . . worthy of protection to allow study and public viewing."

Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Status Report

BOZEMAN - The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST), reported today that 50 different sets of females with cubs were counted in the Yellowstone area in 2002. According to Mark Haroldson of the IGBST, "Fifty of these females were in and around the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. This 2002 number is a new record high for the number of females seen with cubs!" At least 102 cubs were observed to be associated with these 50 females. These 2002 numbers continue to indicate an increasing Yellowstone grizzly bear population. As of October 9th at the IGBST meeting in Bozeman, there have been 13 known and probable human-caused grizzly bear mortalities or live removals in the 14,481 square mile area where mortalities are counted under the mortality limits in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan. Live removals are considered as deaths in terms of their effect on the overall grizzly bear population. Of these 13 deaths or live removals (6 males, 6 females, and 1 of unknown sex), six were the result of management removals after conflicts with human activities. Two bears were killed in self-defense. One of these self-defense instances involved a hunter at an elk carcass, the other occurred at a private residence. Three illegal mortalities were documented and two bears were killed by vehicles in Yellowstone National Park. Haroldson elaborated further by saying, "In addition to these deaths, another grizzly bear was killed in a management action at the southern extent of grizzly bear occurrence in the last 50 - 80 years." This bear was killed due to a sheep depredation in the Wyoming Range, 80 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, and only 66 miles northeast of Bear Lake, Utah.

Hunters Urged To Obtain Boundary Maps When Hunting Near State Parks

LEWISTON - - With several historical parks located throughout the area, hunters planning on pursuing game near them are encouraged to obtain boundary maps to ensure they remain on the right side of the law. Hunting is prohibited on several area historical parks, including the Nez Perce National Historical Park at Spalding, Heart-of-the-Monster in Kamiah and the Whitebird Battlefield near Whitebird. Park officials have expressed concerns to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game about re-occurring problems with persons hunting on park property. Because of the irregular shapes and sizes of the parks, the posting of boundaries with signs has been difficult. Additionally, vandals tear down many of the signs shortly after placement. Regardless of whether signs are present, hunters may be cited for hunting on Park Service property. Boundary maps for each park can be obtained at the Spalding Visitor Center north of Lapwai.

Hunters Reminded To Properly Dispose Of Game Waste

LEWISTON - - With big game rifle season nearly underway, hunters that butcher their own game are encouraged to dispose of their wastes properly. Authorities at the Nez Perce County Solid Waste Station in Lewiston remind hunters that proper disposal of game wastes is very simple. Hunters can place their game waste in a good heavy bag, seal it, and place in their garbage can. The weekly garbage service will then dispose of the waste free of charge. Hunters can also haul their bagged game waste to the transfer station located at 275 O'Conner Road in Lewiston. Operating hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The Latah County Solid Waste Department and the rural incorporated cities also provide four bulky waste sites that accept animal and game wastes. The Transfer Station, located five miles east of Moscow on Highway 8 is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The communities of Deary, Genesee, and Juliaetta each have a site that is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on alternating Saturdays. The Potlatch site is open four Saturdays a month. Operating hours for all sites are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Call 882-8580 Ext. 344 or 410 for schedule). The sites are located as follows: Deary, behind the elevators on Line street; Genesee, south of Chestnut street on Oak street near City shop and Union Warehouse; Juliaetta, turn south off Main onto Third Street, go to the railroad tracks and turn left; Potlatch, 1/2 mile east of the Potlatch "Y" on Highway 6. According to Mark Hill, District Conservation Officer based in Lewiston, the illegal dumping of animal remains is a common occurrence around the outskirts of Lewiston, especially during the hunting season. "Some of the dumped animals are often taken unlawfully and very often wasted," he warned. "The public can help solve the problem by reporting any suspicious activity, especially vehicle license numbers, to law enforcement authorities."