Press Release

February 2004

Poison baits found near North Fork

Dog owners and residents of the North Fork area should be warned that meat laced with an unknown poison has been spread in the Waggonhammer drainage. Fish and Game officers were first alerted to this incident by the owner of a dog that became seriously ill after ingesting a chunk of meat that the dog had found while hiking on Friday. The dog's owner rushed his dog to Blue Cross Veterinary Clinic where prompt veterinary attention saved the dog's life.

Over the weekend, Fish and Game officers combed the area where the poison bait was originally found. Numerous poison baits were found and collected. While officers thoroughly combed the area, it is entirely possible that additional baits were not found. In addition, it is possible that poison baits have been spread in other drainages in the North Fork area.

The pet that was poisoned exhibited the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, muscular trembling, excessive salivation, and constricted pupils. Since the identity of the poison is unknown at this time, it is important that any pet owner who suspects their pet has ingested a suspicious substance and observes similar symptoms in their pet seek immediate veterinary attention. It is also possible that this poison is an extreme hazard to humans and could be absorbed through the skin. Handling of these baits with bare hands could prove fatal to adults and especially children. If you find any suspicious chunks of meat, DO NOT TOUCH the meat. Keep your pets and children away and contact Fish and Game at 756-2271.

The distribution of poisoned baits is a felony in the state of Idaho. It is also a crime against all local residents who become afraid to enjoy their own backyards for fear that their pets and children will be poisoned. If you have any information about this incident, please contact Fish and Game or your local Conservation Officer.

Big Game Public Meetings Scheduled

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has scheduled public meetings to discuss proposed deer, elk, bear and mountain lion hunting seasons for 2004.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

February 28: 7am; Enaville, Enaville Resort (Snake-Pit Restaurant) , Cd'A River Road.

March 2: 7 pm; Coeur d'Alene, IDFG office, 2750 Kathleen Ave.

March 2: 7 pm; Sandpoint, Bonner County Wildlife Building, Bonner County Fairgrounds

March 6: 8am; St. Maries, Elks Lodge, 628 Main St.

"Aerial surveys this month have shown good cow:calf ratios. The healthy elk herds should provide hunters a good opportunity to have an exciting season this fall", according to Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager Jim Hayden.

Only a few season changes are proposed for Panhandle units. The proposal calls for opening the Panhandle elk rifle season and the deer rifle season in units 4, 7 and 9 on October 9. This is one day earlier than the traditional opening date of October 10. Hayden added, "October 9 falls on a Saturday, and Monday is a holiday, so the proposal would give hunters the full, three day weekend to hunt". The proposal calls for the same closing dates, resulting in a season one day longer than in recent years.

The bear season proposal includes the addition of two weeks to the end of the 2005 spring bear season in units 4, 4A, and 6.

Anyone with a disability requiring special accommodations to attend any of these meetings, should notify Jim Hayden at 769-1414 at least 48 hours in advance.

Catch-and-Release: Fishing for the Future!

by: Ryan Hardy, Fishery Research Biologist

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

While walking in a crowded parking lot looking for my vehicle, I noticed a bumper sticker on an old beat up Ford truck. My first impression was that it would say something disagreeable. On the contrary, it read something a bit more satisfying: "Two creeks diverged in a yellow wood, and I fished the one posted CATCH-AND-RELEASE.....and that has made all the difference."

In this day and age, there is an increasing number of people who fish for sport and choose to release their catch to ensure productive fishing for the next time around, even where regulations do not require them to do so. This growing-in-popularity philosophy of catch-and-release fishing reveals that angling is and has evolved into a recreational activity of more than just a way to provide food on the table.

So why catch-and-release? From a non-biological standpoint, it is very easy to rationalize why to keep a fish, especially with the increasing expense of a typical fishing expedition, the uncertainty of success, and the appeal of a tasty fish dinner. So aside from regulations requiring bag and length limits, why would anglers wish to adopt the practice of catch-and-release? One of the first and foremost things that comes to mind for those of us who have children and/or grandchildren, is that catch-and-release is a way for us to help ensure they have fish to catch just as we did.

Looking at today's angling technology and intense fishing pressure, it is easy to see how some of our local recreational fisheries, such as cutthroat trout fishing on the St. Joe River, could be depleted quite rapidly. Catch and release fishing in the St. Joe has increased the density of cutthroat trout by five fold, to the point where it is now a famous fishery.

Open House Highlights 2004 Big Game Hunting Seasons

With few exceptions, hunters who pursued big game in Idaho's Southwest region in 2003 should plan on having very similar seasons in 2004. A few potential changes are being considered and that's where you come in. Plan now to attend and provide input that will help shape this fall's hunting seasons in Idaho's Southwest region.

Contact Fish and Game's Nampa office at 465-8465 or the McCall office at 634-8137 for more information.

After a successful trial year of motorized vehicle restrictions in units 32 and 32A, additional units are being proposed for the same restrictions. "The unit 32/32A restrictions were very well received by the public," Fish and Game regional conservation officer Jeff Wolfe noted. "Whether contacted in camp or at check stations, the bulk of hunters said they liked the restrictions, and compliance with the new rules was very high." This feedback has prompted Fish and Game to propose expanding the motorized vehicle restrictions to units 22, 39 and 40, or potentially other units in the region.

A second proposal relates to the establishment of a trophy mule deer hunt in Southwest Idaho. "For years, hunters have been asking us to manage for more opportunities to harvest trophy bucks," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jon Rachael said. "We can do that, but hunters need to understand the trade-offs." To accomplish this, one of Southwest Idaho's general season hunt units would have to be re-designated, likely forcing hundreds of deer hunters to seek their quarry in other areas if they were unsuccessful at drawing for the hunt. Units being considered for this designation include units 22, 23 or 32A. "However, no units are off the table," Rachael noted. "It's a matter of determining where this proposal fits best, and that's where we need public input."

Winter Conditions Weekly Report / February 23, 2004

Animal condition: Warmer temperatures will help animals a great deal. But most of our deer loses come in March and April.

Antler hunters and snowmobilers must still use caution around winter animals, as we enter a critical time when animals have used up all their fat reserves and are trying to make it to green up. Even at that time, it may be too late for many deer.

Winter conditions: The warmer weather should relieve animals somewhat, but may cause a greater snow crust if colder weather returns. Many areas have been cleared of snow, but March and April can be the hardest on weakened animals.

Depredations: Depredations have decreased with the warmer temperatures and open hillsides in many areas.

Sand Creek, Hamer:

The warm weather has cleared many of the hillsides and there is about a foot of snow on the level. All radio-collared deer are still on the South Juniper area. There has been no more mortality of the radio-collared deer in this area.

Elk are still feeding on cull potatoes in fields near Hamer.

Swan Valley:

Baiting, trapping and testing elk for Brucellosis on Rainy Creek continues. Road killed deer numbers are still down with feeding and warm weather will help even more.

Teton Basin, Victor Area:

Emergency deer feeding continues. The warm weather has opened up some hillsides on the southeast end of the valley. The elk have been successfully baited away from cattle feed lines.

Big Desert/INEEL:

Snow conditions are still light and the animal are still moving about freely.

Big and Little Lost Rivers:

The warm weather has opened up many areas.

Birch Creek:

Snow levels are still light and animals are still moving freely.

Tex Creek:

Sportsmen's Breakfast Meeting Scheduled March 2

LEWISTON - Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to the monthly Idaho Fish and Game breakfast meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, 6:30 a.m., at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston.

IDFG personnel will provide information on the recent big game aerial surveys results, big game public meetings, results of the managed goose hunts, and updates on the steelhead run and upcoming salmon season. Local outdoor groups are also invited to give reports of their current activities.

The breakfasts are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant. The meetings are open to anyone and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The breakfasts run until 8:30 a.m., with coffee provided by Fish and Game.

Fawns Winter Well

Mule deer fawns across southern Idaho have mostly come through the winter so far in good condition.

The first "real" winter in several years has prompted questions from many Idahoans concerned about deer survival, but a continuing study of fawn mortality indicates relatively few winter losses to date.

With the help of dozens of volunteers, Idaho Fish and Game biologists caught and radio-collared 250 mule deer fawns last fall in 10 units across southern Idaho. This large-scale monitoring effort helps biologists predict deer population trends and is an important tool in answering questions about the causes of fawn mortality.

Fawns are the deer most vulnerable to the rigors of winter survival, but malnutrition has been identified as the cause of death in only three cases so far this winter. Of the 250 fawns collared last fall, lions took four and coyotes killed 12 while other causes--collisions with vehicles, falls from cliffs and other incidents--accounted for 11 mortalities. Coyotes typically take fawns in poor condition that likely would die anyway. Mortality from all causes to date amounts to 12 percent of the number in the study, actually a lower rate of loss than biologists usually expect during the winter.

Fawns in this study had the toughest time in the Centennial Flat area of hunt unit 36B in the Salmon Region, where the loss was 42 percent. Regional Supervisor Jim Lukens attributes fawn mortality in this region to the fact that fawns in the areahave lower weight going into winter than in other parts of the state. No losses had been noted in the Hells Canyon study area as of the first week of February.

Extended winter conditions could create a higher loss rate in fawns as the young deer gradually lose more of the little body fat they carry into the cold months. An early, abundant greenup would strengthen the youngest segment of deer populations.

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Send Trophy Scores for Record Book

Hunters who have had a trophy scored by Boone and Crockett standards in 2003 are encouraged to send a copy of their score sheet to Idaho Fish and Game.

If the score meets minimum requirements for state entry, the trophy could be entered in the new edition of the state record book. Score sheets should be addressed to Donna Dillon, IDFG, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

The state record book for big game animals is updated each year. The book is available in print and on the Fish and Game web site at It includes the requirements for state entry.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. Can I buy one of the leftover nonresident Southeast Idaho deer tags, at full price, even though I am a resident?

A. You could, if they were available when leftover nonresident tags go on sale August 28. Last year, there were none available at that time. But you don't need to. Residents can hunt there with a regular tag.

Idaho Fish and Game Seeks Public Comments For 2004 Big Game Seasons

LEWISTON - Proposed changes to all big game hunting seasons will be the focus of a series of public meetings hosted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) in the next two weeks.

Interested individuals can discuss the proposals and provide written comment at any of four open house meetings scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the following locations.

Orofino March 3 VFW Hall 330 Michigan Ave.

Grangeville March 4 Senior Center Hwy. 3 County Road

Lewiston March 8 Community Center 1424 Main Street

Moscow March 10 Fairground Exhibit Bld, 1021 Harold

Proposed changes to regional deer seasons include increased controlled hunt opportunity for mule deer and reduction in extra antlerless whitetail tags. Elk season proposals include increased controlled hunt opportunity for both antlered and antlerless elk in many units, and incorporating a "green-field" hunt to address depredation problems in the Palouse Zone. Black bear and mountain lion season proposals include increasing the season length in many units, allowing any weapon in unit's 8A and 10A and opening up a portion of unit 15 to coincide with rest of the unit.

"We hope to hear from as many hunters as we can," IDFG wildlife manager Jay Crenshaw said. "There are some major changes being proposed, so we hope that hunters attend to learn more about the various options and then provide their comments."

The open house format allows participants to come and go during a three-hour period and visit with IDFG personnel about wildlife issues. Written comments collected will be presented to the Fish and Game Commission at their March meeting, where final action will be taken.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Mike Demick at IDFG at 799-5010, prior to March 3, 2004.

IDFG To Host Big Game Open Houses Across Region During First Week Of March

IDAHO FALLS - After meeting with the public both regionally and statewide, wildlife biologists are now ready to present to the public proposed big game regulation changes for the upcoming seasons. Regionally, biologists held scoping meetings earlier this winter in Idaho Falls, Rexburg, and Arco; now they are ready to return to those towns and present a proposed product developed by combining the wide rage of input provided.

In addition to meeting with the public, IDFG staff has been conducting aerial surveys of various wintering populations of deer and elk across the region. While it is practically impossible because of monetary and personnel constraints to canvas the entire region, based on historical data biologists are able to survey sub-units and gain a useful picture of how various populations are faring overall.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager Daryl Meints, "We are going to be presenting proposals that will seek to increase deer hunting opportunity. This means allowing hunters to be able to hunt during a more favorable time of the year, such as late October." In regards to elk, Meints had to say, "In some areas we actually have more elk than the habitat can support. This means we'll be proposing to increase cow elk hunting opportunity in some places."

Sportsmen that would like to learn more about these proposals and provide comments should plan on attending one of the open house to be held in the region.

OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULE - All meetings start at 7:00 PM