Press Release

November 2003

Anglers Hold That Cast! Fishing Regulation Changes Don't Start Until January 1, 2004

IDAHO FALLS - We all often hear only what we want to hear, anglers are no different! Many fishermen have heard about the fishing regulation changes approved by the Idaho Fish & Game Commission for the Upper Snake Region and assume that they went into effect immediately. Because of the intricacies of state law and the complexity of making changes mid-stream, the regular regulation cycle must play out before the hook on new changes can be set.

The most important thing for anglers to be aware of is that the fishing season on the South Fork of the Snake River above Heise still ends on November 31, 2003!

Starting on January 1, 2004 the entire South Fork will reopen for fishing, from that date forward the river will then remain open year-round. On that same day, Yellowstone Cutthroat trout will also begin their new status as "catch & release" on the South Fork and on the four major spawning tributaries Burns, Palisades, Pine, and Rainey Creeks.

While the South Fork will remain open year-round, these important spawning streams will all have a special season starting on July 1 and running through November 30.

The other important change on the South Fork is that all size and creel limits are being lifted on rainbow trout and hybrid (cutthroat x rainbow trout). According to Regional Fisheries Manager Jim Fredericks, "We really want people to understand how important we feel it is to harvest rainbows. Rainbow trout are considered the biggest threat to our native Yellowstone cutthroat trout population!" For anglers unsure about species identification, the simplest tip is to key in on the color of the fin tips of the fish. If there is any white coloration to the fin tips, then it is hybrid and falls under the new rainbow rules!

Give a License

Licenses for a full year, or a lifetime, of fishing and hunting make a welcome gift, available from Fish and Game offices in the form of a gift certificate.

Hunting and fishing licenses for the year 2004 go on sale December 1. The actual license can be purchased for your minor children but, for others, the gift must be in the form of a certificate because state law requires showing proof of residency. Hunters born January 1, 1975 or later must have completed hunter education and have a certification number before a hunting license will be issued.

No changes in fees for licenses or tags are anticipated in 2004. All gift certificates must be redeemed at Fish and Game offices, not at private vendors.

Lifetime licenses ensure against the potential of future rate increases and can be less expensive than annual licenses, depending on age. A lifetime license remains in effect even if the holder moves out of Idaho so that the licensee is treated as a resident in controlled hunt draws and tag quotas. (Tag prices may increase, however, and nonresidents who hold an Idaho lifetime license pay nonresident tag fees.) Lifetime licenses are available only to persons who are Idaho residents at the time of purchase.

Many Idahoans prefer to buy licenses for the coming year before January 1 in order to avoid lines at Fish and Game offices or vendors.

Trapped Otter Must Be Reported

Trappers who take a river otter this season are reminded that they must present the entire skinned carcass and pelt to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at the regional office in the region in which the animal was taken within 72 hours of harvest.

Trappers can keep the pelt after a harvest report is completed and pelt tag is attached. Data from the carcass will be used in the Department's efforts to obtain approval for multi-year CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Treaty pelt tags in future seasons.

The Clearwater Region otter harvest quota is 15. The season will close in each region 48-hours after the harvest quota is reached. Trappers will be allowed to keep otters within this 48-hour period provided their personal quota of two has not been reached. Any otters trapped and brought in 48 hours after the quota is met must be surrendered to the department for a $5 reward.

A limit of two otters is allowed for any one trapper, provided the quota is not exceeded. Trappers unable to comply with the otter tagging requirements because of special circumstances must report their catch and make arrangements for tagging at the proper regional office. Otters not registered or presented to department personnel within 72 hours may be confiscated.

Current otter harvest information may be obtained by calling any department office during normal business hours or by calling 1-800-323-4334, 24 hours a day. Season status by regions is also posted on the Fish and Game website at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/hunt/programsinfo/otters.htm.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. OK, I'm confused about how many steelhead I can keep. I caught eight last spring; can I keep only 12 now since the limit is 20?

A. No, you may keep 20 steelhead, in addition to the 12 you carded this spring. Maybe the confusion comes because the spring season and the fall season are both tallied on the same tag. Steelhead cards are valid for the entire calendar year, covering both spring and fall steelhead seasons. Spring and fall steelhead season limits are independent of each other. The 2003 fall season limit is 20, regardless of what the spring season limit was or how many steelhead you entered on your 2003 steelhead card under the spring season.

There are spaces on the steelhead card for both the spring and fall seasons to accommodate a limit of up to 20, even though season limits are frequently set at less than 20.

The 2003 fall steelhead season daily limit is three and you may have up to nine fish in your possession while in the field. Remember, only adipose-clipped steelhead may be killed.

Report Waterfowl Bands

With Idaho's waterfowl season in full swing, hunters should remember to report bird bands if they harvest a bird wearing one of the metal tags.

Waterfowl hunters can report banded ducks and geese 24 hours a day by calling (800) 327-BAND (2263). An operator will ask for the band number and how, when and where it was recovered. Callers will receive a certificate of appreciation with information on the bird's age and where it was banded. Hunters can keep the bands.

Whether hunters use the toll-free number or mail in the bands, the important thing is to report the information.

Band recovery information is critical to waterfowl management. Band information helps determine migration routes, production of young, survival and even harvest rates.

Hunters can also report bands on-line by visiting the Bird Banding Laboratory website at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl.

Aerial Surveys Will Show EHD Impact

Idaho Fish and Game biologists will soon have more detailed information on the actual effect a gnat-borne epidemic had this summer on deer herds in the Clearwater.

Biologists will conduct aerial surveys of deer populations in the Clearwater Region in big game management units 13, 14, 18 and portions of 11A beginning in early December.

The department plans to expand the surveys to help monitor the effects of the outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) that appeared in early August. It impacted deer populations mainly in the lower elevations along the Clearwater River drainage from Harpster downstream to Kamiah. Patchy outbreaks occurred in the areas of Kendrick, Peck, Orofino and Grangeville, and along the Salmon River near Whitebird and Riggins.

The survey results will provide information from which management decisions will be based for determining future hunting seasons. The flights are scheduled to cover the same units at the same time every year to make the information gathered comparable from year to year. The goal is to compare population trends and age and sex ratios. A helicopter flying low and slow over some of the most remote areas of the state is the most efficient tool for gathering big game herd information.

Aerial surveys are conducted mostly during winter months when the animals are congregated on lower elevation winter ranges. The winter months also bring two requirements needed to conduct accurate surveys; clear weather for good visibility and snow covering that aid in locating and identification of species.

IDFG To Begin Big Game Aerial Surveys

LEWISTON - Biologists from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will conduct aerial surveys of deer populations in the Clearwater Region in big game management units 13, 14, 18 and portions of 11A beginning in early December.

IDFG plans to expand the surveys to help monitor the effects of the outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) that appeared in early August and impacted deer populations occurring mainly in the lower elevations along the Clearwater River drainage from Harpster downstream to Kamiah, with patchy outbreaks occurring in Kendrick, Peck, Orofino, and Grangeville, and along the Salmon River near Whitebird and Riggins.

The survey results will provide information from which management decisions will be based for determining future hunting seasons. The flights are scheduled to cover the same units at the same time every year to make the information gathered comparable from year to year. The goal is to compare population trends, and age and sex ratios. A helicopter flying low and slow over some of the most remote areas of the state is the most efficient tool for gathering big game herd information.

Aerial surveys are conducted mostly during winter months when the animals are congregated on lower elevation winter ranges. The winter months also bring two requirements needed to conduct accurate surveys, clear weather for good visibility and snow covering that aid in locating and identification of species.

Trappers Reminded Of River Otter Reporting

LEWISTON - Trappers who take a river otter this season are reminded that they must present the entire skinned carcass and pelt to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at the regional office in the region in which the animal was taken within 72 hours of harvest.

Trappers can keep the pelt after a harvest report is completed and pelt tag is attached. Data from the carcass will be used in the Department's efforts to obtain approval for CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Treaty pelt tags.

The Clearwater Region otter harvest quota is 15. The season will close in each region 48-hours after the harvest quota is reached. Trappers will be allowed to keep otters within this 48-hour period provided their personal quota of 2 has not been reached. Any otters trapped and brought in 48 hours after the quota is met must be surrendered to the Department for a $5.00 reward.

A limit of 2 otters is allowed for any one trapper, provided the quota is not exceeded. Trappers unable to comply with the otter tagging requirements due to special or unique circumstances must report their catch and make arrangements for tagging at the proper regional office. Otters not registered or presented to IDFG personnel within 72-hours are subject to confiscation.

Current otter harvest information may be obtained by calling any IDFG office during normal business hours or by calling 1-800-323-4334, 24 hours a day.

Harriman Trumpeter Swan Project Asks Public To Report Swan Sightings

Island Park - For the third year in a row, multiple state, federal, and tribal agencies are working together to help promote the continued success of the ongoing trumpeter swan recovery efforts. This year, citizens are being asked to help out by reporting trumpeter swans that have been marked and then released.

The project is formally titled "Winter Translocations of Trumpeter Swans in Southeast Idaho," and it has been designed to test the effectiveness of trapping and relocation of immature trumpeter swans, that are called cygnets. Wildlife Biologist Lauri Hanauska-Brown of IDFG is spearheading the project. Along with IDFG, other state and federal agencies include: Idaho Parks & Recreation (IDPR), the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe is also involved.

The reason that this study was undertaken is that while the trumpeter swan populations nationwide have made tremendous comebacks, the intermountain population has focused as their primary wintering grounds the Henry's Fork River in and around Harriman Sate Park. Depending on winter conditions and the number of birds, if left unchecked, a harsh winter could result in a potentially serious situation for either the birds or the aquatic habitat of the world-famous trout fishery on the Henrys Fork.

Counters help track visitors to Wildlife Management Areas

JEROME - Answers to questions like, "How many people fish at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area or what's the average number of weekend hunters at the Niagara Springs Wildlife Management Area?" are now at the fingertips of biologists with the installation of portable traffic counters by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"We know a lot of people use the WMA's, but we didn't know how many," said Scott Gamo, Fish and Game Habitat Biologist. "These counters just help us quantify it."

The Hagerman WMA counter, installed Oct. 16, revealed over 900 vehicles entered the WMA in a three-week time frame. The Niagara Springs WMA counter told much the same story. One counter on the main entrance to the area has been averaging about 110 vehicles each weekend and another 110 vehicles during the week.

"We just get a lot of people using these WMA's," said Gamo. "There is a high demand from the public for Fish and Game managed land. These areas provide recreational opportunities for people that don't have access to private land for hunting and fishing."

Knowing how many people are visiting WMAs and how that use changes throughout the year provides critical information when decisions are made concerning resource management.

"The more information we have the better we can manage the wildlife, habitat and people visiting the six WMA's in the region," said Mark Fleming, Fish and Game Regional Habitat Manager. "The more we know the better we can protect the resources and provide services for the people."

Alternative School Students Help Birds

The seven students in Jay Skeen and Evelyn Buhler's Vocational Training Class at Salmon's Alternative High School have kept themselves busy this past quarter building a variety of nesting boxes and platforms for birds. "This was the perfect project for our students." Said Jay Skeen, teacher and Alternative High School Administrator. "The plans for the nesting boxes were perfect for the students' ability and skill levels." Upon completion, the students donated their nesting boxes to Fish and Game, which received 117 nest boxes for bluebirds, 3 kestrel boxes, and 3 osprey platforms thanks to the efforts of these hard-working students

The donated nest boxes will go to a variety of projects including the Outdoor Classroom. All three kestrel boxes will be placed at the Outdoor Classroom to attract these small cavity-nesting falcons. In addition, a number of bluebird boxes will be installed in the hopes of attracting mountain bluebirds, tree swallows, violet-green swallows and black-capped chickadees. The osprey platforms will be used as the need arises, but one is already designated for the Sacajawea Interpretive Center.

Bluebirds return to Idaho in late February and early March. During this time, Fish and Game plans to hold an event to celebrate bluebirds, provide information on bluebird habitat enhancement and give away bluebird boxes. The 117 boxes donated by the Alternative School students will end up on properties throughout the region providing valuable nesting spots for our state bird. Fish and Game staff thanks Amanda England, Laura Phillips, Dominic Buccarelli, Auston LeMaire, Shane Neccochea, Aaron Jarshaw, and David Knott for all their hard work!

New Edition of Web Publication Online

How has prolonged drought affected your fishing hole?

The latest edition of Idaho Fish and Game's Idaho Wildlife online publication offers detailed information on the impacts of Idaho's drought on fishing waters across southern Idaho. Diseases worried hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts this year while a gnat-borne virus killed hundreds of deer in the Clearwater in late summer. Idaho's first human case of West Nile Virus was diagnosed recently from, of all things, an alligator farm. Several articles deal with this latest information about diseases in wildlife.

Readers can enter the publication through the home page of the department's web site at www2.state.id.us/fishgame.