Press Release

December 2003

Comment on Archery, Blackpowder Methods Sought

Should Idaho rules on archery and muzzleloader hunting reflect recent developments in equipment? Idaho Fish and Game is currently seeking public comment on a couple of possible changes that have the support of a number of individual hunters.

The Fish and Game Commission will set final rules for the 2004 seasons in March.

The department wants hunters to discuss changes to two technology rules.

Hunters are currently limited to compound bows that have a 65 percent let-off. Let-off is the amount of pressure on the string when the bow is at full draw.

Many bows now on the market have an 80 percent let-off -making it easier to hold the bow at full draw for a longer time while the archer aims. Pope and Young, the archery club that monitors hunting records of archery hunters, recently changed its rules to allow hunters to use bows with an 80 percent let-off and qualify their animals for the record book.

Some muzzleloader hunters have requested that the department consider allowing the use of "209" shotgun primers or musket caps rather than be limited to the current No. 10 or 11 percussion caps as an ignition device. The issue is that shotgun primers or musket caps provide a more dependable ignition.

The department also wants to gauge public opinion on a number of other minor nonbiological rules. These include the question of allowing hunters to buy more than one leftover nonresident deer or elk tag. Another question is whether nonresident junior mentored hunting licenses should be treated the same as hunter graduate licenses and 10-11-year-old small game licenses by requiring that they be accompanied in the field by a licensed adult. "Accompanied" has been defined as being within normal talking distance without the aid of electronic equipment.

Trumpeters Marked

Wildlife biologists have marked and moved 62 trumpeter swans so far this year to help Idaho populations recover.

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 has lost two trumpeters this year-one in a poaching case in Idaho. The other trumpeter had flown to Utah where hunting of the smaller tundra swan is allowed and trumpeters are occasionally shot by mistake.

Two Idahoans in the Preston area have been cited for illegally shooting the trumpeter and using lead shot to do it. No swan hunting is legal in Idaho and lead shot has been banned from all waterfowl hunting since 1990. The swan was shot while a student biologist had the bird under observation through a spotting scope, making the investigation easier than it usually is in cases of swan shooting.

Idaho waterfowl hunters are regularly reminded that swans have entirely white wings, unlike the much smaller snow geese that have black wing tips. Birds caught and marked wear colored neck collars and a wing is dyed pink to help set them apart.

The project is formally titled "Winter Translocations of Trumpeter Swans in Southeast Idaho," and has been designed to test the effectiveness of trapping and relocation of immature trumpeter swans, called cygnets. Using the airboat with on-board generator powering bright lights, biologists can surprise the swans at night, swoop them on board with big nets, and process them for later release.

Lifetime Licenses Make Welcome Gifts

Gifts good for a lifetime are rare, but one kind is available at any Fish and Game office in Idaho.

Lifetime hunting and fishing licenses or gift certificates for lifetime licenses may be purchased for any resident Idahoans. Costs vary depending on the age of the licensee and are listed in all rules brochures.

Besides saving money over annual license purchases, a lifetime license remains valid even if the licensee moves out of state. (Tags are charged at the nonresident price if the licensee does leave Idaho.)

Gift certificates for annual licenses are also available at Idaho Fish and Game offices.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. How do I sign up for depredation hunts?

A. The first opportunity to sign up for next year's depredation hunts (if any are declared) will be May 1 through June 30. Those who sign up then will be chosen at random. You can still sign up after June 30 but your name goes on the list of hunters available for depredation hunts after those who signed up first and it goes on the list in order of date. The rules on depredation hunts, where to send applications, and forms are on page 79 of the big game brochure.

Christmas Bird Counts Scheduled For Moscow-Pullman and Lewiston-Clarkston Areas

LEWISTON - From novice birder to seasoned ornithologist, everyone is welcome to participate in the 104th annual Christmas Bird Count to be held December 20 in the Moscow-Pullman area and January 3, 2004, in the Lewiston-Clarkston area.

Sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the all-day count of early winter bird populations gives participants the opportunity to see wintering birds rarely seen by most people. Held annually, the Christmas Bird Count has also become one of the most popular birding events of the year.

"This is a great event for anyone interested in learning more about birds," said Joel Sauder, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Non-game Biologist and avid bird enthusiast.

The results are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, which represents 100 years of unbroken data on trends of early winter bird populations across America. The data from 100 years of Christmas Bird Counts, yield valuable insights into the shifting patterns, distributions, and population trends of bird species during the count period, which is from mid-December to early January.

Novice birders can take advantage of the count by teaming up with experienced bird counters. All observers must do their counting within a designated area on the given count day.

Contacts for Christmas bird Counts in the Moscow-Pullman area are Tom Weber or Dave Holick at 509-334-3817 or 208-882-5556. For the Lewiston-Clarkston counts contact Charles Swift at 208-883-0553.

Anyone wishing to census birds at their feeder and does not live within a Christmas Bird Count circle, can still get involved with Project Feeder Watch. More information on both counts is available at www.birdsource.org and www.palouseaudubon.org.

Guns Need Cleaning At Season's End

LEWISTON - With the big game hunting season nearly finished for most Idaho rifle and muzzleloader hunters, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages hunters to thoroughly clean their guns before putting them away for the season.

"Rifles and muzzleloaders need a thorough cleaning now, said Kent Henderson, hunter education coordinator for IDFG based in Lewiston. "Don't put your guns up and forget them until next fall without cleaning them."

According to Henderson, cleaning can be done quickly, and is also vital for continued top performance and value of any firearm. A cleaning kit also makes the perfect gift to gun owners.

"Gun cleaning kits make great Christmas gifts, and are available at low cost at nearly all sporting goods stores," Henderson said. "The only item gun owners may need in addition to these kits is a clean, soft cloth rag like an old T-shirt."

Gun cleaning kits typically include a sectional cleaning rod, slotted tip, soft wire brush, solvent, oil and cloth patches. One kit can service several different weapons, although gun owners may need additional patches and brushes to fit different caliber or bore guns.

Other cleaning options include Boresnakes, which resemble a piece of rough rope that flosses the gun's bore. Boresnakes cost around $15 and can be washed and used repeatedly.

IDFG encourages gun owners to store firearms in a safe place, preferably under lock and key. Ammunition should be stored separate from firearms and should also be locked up.

Idfg Meeting With Public To Discuss Fine Tuning Future Big Game Regulations

IDAHO FALLS - It used to be that muzzleloaders and bows represented primitive methods of hunting, but technological advances make today's equipment bear as much resemblance to their predecessors as a Humvee does to a Model-T. Because of all the ongoing changes, IDFG wants to see how archers and muzzleloader enthusiasts feel about changing the rules about what type of equipment they can use. These non-biological topics, as well as more specific big game regulation changes will be discussed at three meetings scheduled across the Upper Snake Region for the week before Christmas.

Comment is specifically being sought on changing the amount of "let-off" allowed for use by hunters using compound bows. Let-off is the amount of pressure on the bow string when the bow is at full draw; thanks to the use of special cams designed to shift the load. Presently, hunters in Idaho are limited to compound bows that have a 65 percent let-off. Today, many bows on the market have an 80 percent let-off! Also, a past barrier to use of bows with greater let-off was the acceptance of animals shot using such bows for inclusion on trophy group records. Just recently, Pope and Young, the archery club that monitors hunting records of archery hunters changed its rules to allow hunters that use bows with an 80 percent let-off to enter their animals in their record books.

Muzzleloaders have also seen many advances in equipment available over the last decade. The latest progress made has been in the development of more reliable percussion caps to ignite the loose black powder. Present regulations specify that hunters must use No. 11 percussion caps only. These are basically the same caps that have been used since muzzleloaders moved away from being flintlocks! New, more dependable products such as 209 shotgun primers or musket caps are now available.

Fall River Electric, Teton Regional Land Trust and IDFG Team Up To Stop Trumpeter Swan Deaths

CEDRON - Open water in the Teton Basin is a difficult thing for trumpeter swans to find during the winter, in fact it can become downright deadly when winter weather conditions obscure electric power lines and swans strike them as they come in for a landing. That very thing was occurring at Millers Pond outside of Victor, Idaho. So far this year, at least seven of the large birds had fallen victim to the lines and concerned local residents contacted the Teton Regional Land Trust (TRLT) and Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) for help. Once Fall River Electric became aware of the problem they were quick to work with TRLT & IDFG to work out a plan that will hopefully put an end to the problem of swans striking the power lines.

Trumpeter swans are listed as a "Species of Special Concern" in Idaho. Their population status is closely watched and there is continual discussion by conservation groups on whether the great birds should be placed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species list. Because of these concerns, IDFG has an ongoing program to relocate juvenile swans each winter from Harriman State Park to the Bear River near the Utah border. According to IDFG Regional Non-Game Biologist Lauri Hanauska-Brown, "The swans were so focused on the open water they were failing to see the power lines, hopefully these specially designed flashers will convince the birds to change their usual flight path." The cause of death for swans striking the power lines has not been electrocution, rather the result of injuries from the blunt trauma of a large moving object striking a strong narrow fixed wire.

Bald Eagles Are Back For The Watching!- Eagle Watching Week events Dec 26-Jan 1

As consistent as the calendar, bald eagles have returned on schedule to Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene. The annual migration of these magnificent birds has begun and the numbers of our national symbol available here for our viewing enjoyment grow every day.

The Bureau of Land management conducts a weekly count of eagles on Coeur d'Alene Lake around Wolf Lodge Bay, Beauty Bay and Higgins Point. In December 8, the number had grown to 90 bald eagles.

The eagles are here to take advantage of easy pickin's, as the mature kokanee salmon in Coeur d'Alene Lake have completed their life cycle and are dying after spawning on the submerged gravels in Wolf Lodge Bay. By nature=s standards, this is not a long time event. Kokanee were introduced to the lake in 1937 and discovered by the eagles on their normal southward migration in search of open waters and available food. Once the kokanee supply dwindles, the eagles will continue to the Klamath Basin of Oregon/California, or into Southern Idaho and Utah.

The bald eagle is probably the most widely recognized symbol in the United States. It first appeared on a coin in 1776 and officially became our national symbol in 1782. Associated with strength and freedom, the bald eagle is unique to North America. Concentrations are found today in the northwestern US, Alaska, western Canada, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Coast of the US. When the first Europeans arrived in North America, there were 25,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles.

While most today admire and appreciate the bald eagle, it hasn't always been so. From 1917 until 1952, over 100,000 bald eagles were shot in Alaska (prior to statehood) under the belief they were competitors with humans for salmon. Other of our actions such as development in critical habitats and pesticide use inadvertently had negative effects upon eagles. By 1970, there were only 1500 breeding pairs remaining.

Idaho Hunter Education Registration Begins December 15

LEWISTON - Parents or guardians of young hunters interested in hunting next year are encouraged to register for one of two hunter education courses scheduled for this January and February in the Lewiston-area.

Registration will begin at the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) Office, 1540 Warner Avenue, on Monday, December 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. An address, phone number, date of birth, social security number and an $8.00 registration fee is required for each student.

Only a limited number of students will be accepted into the two upcoming classes, and once the maximum number is reached, registration will be closed.

"To reserve a seat in one of these classes, we encourage young hunters to register early in the week because they will fill fast, " said Kent Henderson, IDFG hunter education coordinator. "Our goal is to have at least one class each month in Lewiston, and sufficient courses throughout the region to meet our young hunter's needs."

IDFG plans to conduct registration for March and April courses in the Lewiston-area during mid-February.

Besides attending a traditional hunter education course, first-time hunters can also fulfill Idaho's course requirement by either completing the independent home study course available at all IDFG offices or by completing an Internet course available at the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) website at www.ihea.com.

In addition, both home study and Internet students must register for and attend a one-day completion course where they will receive Idaho-specific training and be required to pass the written exam, field and live fire exercises required of all hunter education students. The completion course will be offered at least four times each year in Lewiston.

Turkey Hunting Expanded

Wild turkey hunters will have more opportunity including new youth hunts, but rifles will not be allowed.

Meeting at Nampa December 3-4, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted to approve department proposals for 2004 turkey seasons.

Those proposals did not include allowing rifles for hunting turkeys. The law currently permits the use of shotguns, including muzzleloading shotguns and archery methods; that rule will continue to apply.

The department did take comment statewide about the use of rifles in hunting turkeys, an idea that had been presented to the Commission in previous public hearings. Most comment from hunters, however, was negative. Five individuals including members of the National Wild Turkey Federation opposed rifle use in the public hearing

December 3.

Department proposals were intended to increase hunting opportunity, offer youth hunts, simplify rules and reduce turkey populations in areas where depredation complaints are increasing as wild turkey numbers continue to grow.

The Commission approved eliminating spring controlled hunt tags and establishing two types of tags: "general" and "extra" turkey tags, a proposal that has had wide public support. The general tag will be used in a controlled hunt by the holder of a controlled hunt permit. A general tag and two extra tags may be purchased each year. In the spring, an extra tag will be valid starting May 1 and could be used in the fall if not filled in the spring. Although the number of turkey tag types is reduced, controlled hunts will still be held.

General tags will cost $18, extra tags $12; junior/disabled American veteran/senior tags will be $9.75.

Late Reports Bring Reminder

Deer and elk hunters who have not yet filed their mandatory harvest reports will see a reminder from Idaho Fish and Game in their mail this month.

Big game hunters are required to file reports whether or not they harvest a deer or elk. Licenses for 2004 will not be issued to those who have not filed until reports are submitted.

Information derived from the mandatory reports is crucial to sound management of Idaho's big game herds and is used in setting hunting seasons. Reminders are being sent now because data from reports must be compiled and analyzed before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission sets seasons in March.

Hunters who have not filed reports yet can mail in the form they received with their big game tags or they can find a convenient form on the department's Internet web site at www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

Reports are currently coming in at a better rate than last year's when more than 100,000 reminders were sent. This month's mailing may be under 100,000. A few who are still hunting in late seasons will receive reminders even though they have not exceeded the time limit for filing but sorting them out from the merely tardy is not feasible.