Press Release

January 2004

CO Picked

Idaho's National Wild Turkey Federation has honored Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer Rob Brazie, Boise.

Brazie was picked as wildlife enforcement officer of the year by the federation for his "dedication to the resource and his high level of professionalism." The nomination for the honor said, "without your unwavering commitment to protect the resource from poachers, early restoration efforts and wildlife management strategies would never have succeeded."

Brazie has been active in Idaho's efforts to establish wild turkeys. He also takes part in the federation's fund raising and conservation and education programs.

The state chapter of the federation paid Brazie's travel expenses and registration to this year's annual convention, held in Columbus, Ohio where he will be recognized with other state winners.

Commission Sets Access Lottery

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners have approved a lottery for premium big game tags to help fund the program that provides new access to hunting and fishing properties.

The Access Yes! program began last year with limited funding taken from other Fish and Game programs. In its first year, the program provided access to some 107,000 acres of private lands and 240,000 acres of public lands where access had been blocked by private ownership. The Commission asked the department to come up with a plan to increase funding for Access Yes! before the January 21-23 meeting in Boise.

Access Yes! cost about $117,000 in 2003 with $300,000 set as the 2004 budget for the program. The Commission approved a department plan to raise a portion of program funding through the sale of lottery tickets for special big game tags, an approach suggested by the Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

The department proposed an initial program that will offer 40 tags - 12 deer, 12 elk, 12 antelope and four moose - valid for the 2004 hunting season. There will be two drawings for the tags in 2004, June 15 and August 16. One "Super Slam Pak" will be available in each drawing with four tags - one each for antelope, deer, elk and moose.

The tags can be used in any open hunt (general or controlled) for the species drawn and are "extra" tags, that is, in addition to any other tag the applicant is eligible to obtain. Controlled hunt eligibility is not affected; the applicant can apply for any controlled hunt in that year or subsequent years.

Hadley Takes Gavel

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Nancy Hadley has been selected to chair the Commission for 2004.

Hadley represents the Panhandle Region on the seven-member Commission. She was appointed by Governor Phil Batt and reappointed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne. Hadley is a Financial Consultant with D.A. Davidson & Co. in Sandpoint.

Alex Irby served as chairman for 2003.

John Watts, the Commissioner representing the Southwest Region will serve as vice-chair.

The Fish and Game Commission, established in 1938 by the first voter initiative in Idaho's history, sets policy for the Department of Fish and Game. One Commissioner from each of the seven Fish and Game regions is appointed by the governor to serve a four-year term.

Muzzleloader, Archery Rules Unchanged

Idaho Fish and Game rules defining legal equipment for archery and muzzleloader hunts will remain the same for 2004.

Meeting in Boise January 21-23, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a department recommendation to leave muzzleloader and archery equipment rules as they are for at least this year.

Some hunters asked the department to consider allowing the use of 209 shotgun primers in place of percussion caps for muzzleloading rifles and to allow the use of compound bows with an 80 percent let-off rather than the 65 percent maximum let-off currently in the rules. At the public hearing January 21, however, representatives of state organizations of bowhunters and muzzleloader hunters asked the Commission not to permit these rule changes.

Left-over Controlled Tags Go Into Second Drawing

Left-over controlled hunt tags and unclaimed controlled hunt permits will not be sold on a first-come, first-served basis in 2004.

Meeting in Boise January 21-23, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a department recommendation to change the way these tags and permits are sold. In 2003 the over-the-counter sale of unclaimed controlled hunt permits created controversy and allegations of unfair conduct by some vendors.

The department proposed that unclaimed permits and leftover permits be placed into a second controlled hunt drawing. After the first drawing, tags must be picked up by August 1. The application period for the second drawing will be August 5-15 with the drawing August 20. Any permits leftover after the second drawing would go on sale first- come, first-served on August 25.

Drawings for trophy species will be set up in a similar fashion. Nonresident quotas will not apply for these drawings.

License and tag transfers in controlled hunts was also changed for special conditions. The Commission approved allowing the director to refund a nonresident controlled hunt permit and issue another tag to another family member in case of death, illness, injury or military deployment. There will be a $50 processing fee and the assigned family member will have to buy a nonresident license and purchase the tag.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I'm trying to figure out my turkey hunting options for this year. How come I can't find a rulebook?

A. You probably can find one by now and the rules are on the Fish and Game web site at www2.state.id.us/fishgame. The plant where the rules are printed was subject to a major electrical problem, delaying printing and distribution to license vendors. The brochures have been printed and have arrived in several F&G regional offices. They are also being sent to vendors now.

Next Fish and Game Breakfast Meeting Scheduled March 2

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

Agenda topics include reports on the waterfowl and big game aerial surveys, turkey transplant efforts, steelhead season, results of managed goose hunt and a presentation on the hunter education program. 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 meetings run until 8:30 a.m. with coffee provided by IDFG.

Winter Conditions Weekly Report January 26, 2004

SUMMARY

Animal condition. Cold winter temperatures always drain animal energy reserves. Any human disturbance causing unnecessary animal movement speeds this process.

Winter conditions. Temperatures have decreased over the week and animals will use more fat reserves. Snow levels increased some, but the new snow is light and winds swept much of it off of areas that have remained open throughout the winter.

Depredations: Depredations are steadily increasing as the winter progresses.

Sand Creek, Hamer

4 to 6 inches of new snow covered the lightly crusted snow. There has been no more mortality of radio-collared deer.

Swan Valley.

4 inches of new snow. Baiting of elk on Rainy Creek continues. Deer are crossing and being struck by vehicles along the road south of Irwin. Use caution in this area.

Teton Basin, Victor Area.

Emergency deer feeding continues. Feed sites have increased. 3 to 5 inches of new snow fell over the weekend, worsening conditions for deer.

Big Desert/INEEL

Some light snow accumulated but animal are still moving about freely.

Big and Little Lost Rivers.

1 to 2 inches fell over the weekend. High winds kept bare slopes clear and animals are moving about freely.

Birch Creek.

Some new snow fell, but animals are still moving freely.

Tex Creek

Strong winds kept new snow from accumulating on slopes and ridges. Elk remain widely distributed in small groups.

This report brought to you by Paul Faulkner, Upper Snake Region Landowner/Sportsman Coordinator, Idaho Department of Fish & Game.

Sportsman's Expo At North Idaho Fairgrounds

The Idaho Wildlife Council has scheduled the ninth annual "North Idaho Sportsman's Expo and Big Game Show" for February 7-8 at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. Show hours are Saturday, February 7 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, February 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost of admission is $3 for adults, persons under age 12 enter free.

In addition to the North Idaho Wildlife Center, the two large fairgrounds exhibit buildings will be used for events and displays.

Exhibits and commercial booths will include taxidermy, wildlife art, hunting and fishing equipment. Sportsmen's club members will be present to meet with sportsmen.

The Coeur d'Alene Lake Anglers Association will have a fish tank set up and stocked with hatchery trout. Equipment will be provided, and kids can fish for a nominal fee.

The North Idaho Hunting Retriever Trial Association will hold retriever demonstrations.

A concession stand operated by the Shriners will be available with food and drinks.

A kid's casting contest will be held on Saturday that will qualify one local young angler to go on to additional competition. Casting contests on Sunday will be for prizes.

The Idaho 4-H shooting trailer will be here for the first time, for youngsters to receive instruction in proper rifle shooting techniques and try their skills with an air rifle.

One of the highlights is always the antler/horn display and competition. Fish and Game employees and volunteers will be scoring hunter taken animals using the Boone and Crockett scoring system. There is no charge to enter as many specimens as you like. Anyone with an antlered or horned animal is encouraged to enter it into the show, mounted or not, regardless of year taken. Top scoring entries will receive ribbons and plaques.

Upper Snake Region Winter Conditions Weekly Report

SUMMARY

Animal condition: Animals came into the winter in average to good condition. Severe weather conditions could drain energy reserves quickly. Human disturbance can speed this up.

Winter conditions: With the warmer weather, snow levels have decreased and animals are able to move around without expending a lot of energy.

Depredations: There has been light to moderate depredations on haystacks from deer and elk.

Sand Creek, Hamer: Snow has settled and crusting has increased over the last week. There has been no more mortality of radio-collared deer.

Elk in the Hamer area have been feeding on cull potatoes left in the fields from harvest. Some haystacks have been fed on, but owners took protective measures and elk moved on.

Swan Valley: Snow depths have settled and animals are moving about. Elk baiting in Rainy Creek has been successful in pulling elk away from area cattle.

Teton Basin, Victor Area: Emergency deer feeding continues. Warmer temperatures have decreased snow depths on some south facing slopes and deer have resumed feeding on brush in these areas. Areas where snow compaction has increased, deer numbers at feed sites remain the same or have increased.

Big Desert/INEEL: Snow has settled an animal movement is not restricted.

Big and Little Lost Rivers: Snow depths have decreased and south facing slopes are melting off.

Birch Creek: Animals are wintering in 4" - 6" of lightly compacted snow

Tex Creek: Animals are wintering in 0-16 inches of light snow. Elk are still moving in many different areas.

This report brought to you by Paul Faulkner, Upper Snake Region Landowner/Sportsman Coordinator, Idaho Department of Fish & Game.

Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey Recently Completed

LEWISTON - Area wild geese and diving ducks populations seem to be on the increase while numbers of mallards observed have declined, according to a mid-winter waterfowl survey recently conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Army Corps of Engineers in the Lewiston-Clarkston valley.

Compared to survey information collected over the past five years, dabbling duck species, such as mallard, wigeon and wood ducks were down 28 percent, with 3,960 birds counted. However, goldeneye, bufflehead and ring-necked duck, referred to as diving ducks, were up 14 percent, with 2,340 counted. A total of 2,625 Canada geese were also observed, a 47 percent increase over the five-year average.

Cold weather conditions concentrated waterfowl and snow coverage made determining species and counting numbers favorable for the survey. Unusual species observed include Eurasian wigeon, long-tailed duck, northern pintail and tundra swan.

According to Miles Benker, IDFG habitat biologist who conducted the survey, a variety of factors can influence local duck numbers during the survey period.

"There's no doubt that the drought has negatively impacted spring production and nesting success in Canada and Alaska, but in contrast, bitter winters along the Pacific flyway can force more ducks to migrate from northern Idaho and Canada," he said.

The annual winter survey is conducted to determine distribution and relative abundance of wintering waterfowl in North America. This information is then combined with numerous other counts within the Pacific flyway, harvest reports from hunters and nesting surveys to determine local future hunting season frameworks.

2004 Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey Completed

LEWISTON - This year's mid-winter bald eagle survey conducted January 8, revealed 12 birds along the Snake River in northcentral Idaho, a slight increase over last year, according to Joel Sauder, non-game biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG).

"We counted 11 adults and one immature bald eagle this year, compared to a total of 9 last year," Sauder said. "We also counted 8 golden eagles along the 55 mile route up the river."

The number of bald eagles wintering on the Snake River can fluctuate widely from year-to-year, Sauder added, and is determined by the amount of open water and availability of prey. "Bald eagles prefer to perch in the large ponderosa adjacent to the river and feed on fish, carrion and waterfowl."

Early January each year, IDFG participates in a nationwide survey to estimate the number of bald eagles in each state, their distribution and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat. Sizes of survey routes vary from single fixed points to 150 miles. Surveys are conducted from vehicles, fixed wing aircraft, boats and helicopters. The Clearwater Region's survey consists of jetboating up the Snake River from the Grande Ronde River to the mouth of Temperance Creek, counting both adult and immature bald eagles.

Adult bald eagles have a dark brown body and white tail and head. Immature bald eagles are brown and have irregular white plumage.

The annual midwinter survey provides information on both breeding and nonbreeding segments of the population at a potentially limiting time of year. It also provides an opportunity to monitor modifications or threats to habitat at important wintering areas. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in bald eagles and their conservation.