Press Release

March 2004

Unique Dry Bed Fishery To Start April 1

IDAHO FALLS - The coming of spring means different things to different people. To some, its a time to start their gardens or clean out the garage, but to certain individuals it means that it is time to check out whether a rather unique angling opportunity will exist or not. The start of April marks the time that the IDFG starts getting calls about the Big Feeder being shut down for repairs.

The Dry Bed, which is also called the Big Feeder or Great Feeder Canal, was once a natural side channel of the South Fork of the Snake River. Early settlers to the area built head gates and diversion structures on the waterway, basically converting it into a canal even though it continued to also function as an aquatic habitat capable of supporting fish populations. Fishing is allowed year round, but during those years when maintenance work is required on the head gates certain standing exceptions in IDFG Fishing Regulations come into play. These special rules were created because a stretch of the canal is de-watered due to the repairs and fish are stranded in deep pools or large puddles as water levels drop.

IDFG Regulations for the Dry Bed include the exception that from 4/1- 4/30 it is legal to also take fish using hands, dip nets or snagging. Use of seine nets, chemicals, firearms, explosives, or electric current remain prohibited. The stretch covered by this special exception runs from the Highway 48 near the Lewisville Fresh-Pak Potato Plant upstream to the Union Pacific Railroad bridge located 1.5 miles northeast of Ririe. It is important to note that most access to the canal is across private ground, so it important to get permission ahead of time.

Because the Dry Beds are treated as a different body of water from the South Fork of the Snake River, general trout regulations apply!

Next Sportsmen's Breakfast Scheduled April 6

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

IDFG personnel will present information on the 2004 big game hunting seasons, prospects for upcoming salmon and turkey seasons, significant enforcement cases and a report will be given on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management work plan. 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.

Local Mule Deer Foundation Chapter Assists With Mule Deer Management

ST. ANTHONY - For the second time in it's five year existence, the Henry's Fork Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation has provided funding and manpower to assist the Idaho Fish and Game Department in efforts to collect data used to manage mule deer populations in Idaho. In 2001, the Henry's Fork Chapter participated in a fawn mortality study of wintering deer in hunting units 59 and 59A. This year, efforts were focused on the local Sand Creek deer herd that winters in Unit 60A.

In December, members of the MDF joined IDFG personnel and other volunteers to capture and radio mark 42 mule deer. These deer are part of the Sand Creek herd that typically spends the winter months on the Junipers winter range west of St. Anthony in Fremont County. In addition to manpower, the Henry's Fork Chapter provided funding for additional radio collars, helicopter time used in the operation, and fixed wing aircraft flights needed to follow the deer throughout the year. Funds for both projects were generated at the Chapter's annual Mule Deer Foundation Banquet held in St. Anthony.

According to Regional Wildlife Biologist Dennis Aslett, "This is not only an excellent example of sportsmen's funds that are generated locally being used to benefit local wildlife, but is also an opportunity for sportsmen to become directly involved in hands-on wildlife management." The Sand Creek Mule Deer Project is divided into two parts, a fawn mortality study and a herd distribution study.

Don't Get Fooled On April 1 Opening Of Egin-Hamer Closure Area

April 1, 2004

DON'T GET FOOLED ON APRIL 1 OPENING OF EGIN-HAMER CLOSURE AREA. SOUTHERN PART OPEN, NORTHERN PORTION STILL CLOSED!

IDAHO FALLS- Everyone knows that April 1 is "April Fools Day," but local resource management agencies want to make sure that no one gets fooled by management guidelines regarding the Egin-Hamer Area Closure. Seven years ago, Fremont and Jefferson County Commissioners approached the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) about revisiting the Egin-Hamer Road winter road closure issue. An agreement was arranged that allowed for opening the road to winter travel in return for closing off important winter range adjacent to the road.

Because habitat needs change for wildlife as the winter progresses, the closure was divided in two segments, each with a different opening day. The first opening date for the southern portion is nearly upon us. Spring has come early enough that most of the deer and elk have moved to the northern segment and conflicts with humans should be minimal.

The Egin-Hamer Road divides the closures area into two uneven segments. The smaller southern segment will open to human traffic on April 1, 2004. The larger northern segment will remain closed to human traffic until May 1, 2004. The agreement also included access allowances for private landowners with business concerns requiring entry into the closure area. The segment that opens on April 1 is bordered on by the Egin-Hamer Road on the north and Highway 33 on the south. The western boundary is Interstate 15 and the eastern boundary runs from where the Henrys Fork crosses Highway 33 and heads north through Plano and then toward Egin. Exact descriptions are available at the Idaho Falls BLM & IDFG Offices.

Public Comment Sought On Upland Game And Trapping Proposals

IDAHO FALLS - While the majority of the attention during the season setting process each year is focused on big game, IDFG biologists have also been working with the public to develop the regulations to manage next year's upland game and trapping seasons. After statewide discussion, the Department has a number of proposals it is looking to the public for comments. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, sportsmen can visit IDFG's website to review proposals and post comments. For those looking to talk with a biologist, that avenue still exists in a number of ways.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager Daryl Meints, "There are five different proposals IDFG is looking for comments on. Some have to do with managing bird populations, other have to do with how we manage sportsmen." The five issues up for comment are:

1) Pheasant season to open _ hour before sunrise as opposed to noon on the opener.

2) Change the pheasant bag and possession limits on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to 2/4 as apposed to 3/6.

3) Extend the chukar and gray partridge season from January 15th to January 31.

4) Open sage grouse, sharptail, quail, chukar and gray partridge seasons all on the same date: (4th Saturday in September) September 25th for 2004.

5) Apply the Motorized Vehicle Rule to upland game hunting in those Units where it applies to big game hunting.

Individuals looking to learn more before making comments can contact a wildlife biologist at the Idaho Falls office by dialing 208-525-7290 or stopping by the new regional headquarters building located in the St. Leon Business Park at 4279 Commerce Circle in Idaho Falls. Individuals with special needs can also make contact through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529(TDD).

Proposals can be viewed and comments posted under the "What's New" heading on the IDFG website located at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

Upland Season Ideas Go to Public

Hunters will have a chance to comment on Idaho Fish and Game ideas for the upcoming upland game seasons soon.

Public comment will be solicited statewide with details to be announced in the seven Fish and Game regions and under "What's New" on the website in early April.

Included in the proposals: uniform starting time statewide for pheasant seasons, rather than having the southern part of the state open at noon while the northern part opens a half hour before sunrise; changing from three pheasants to two daily on stocked Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) so the supply of birds lasts longer; starting time on WMAs in the Southwest Region of 10 a.m. to avoid conflict with waterfowl hunters and to allow staff to stock birds.

Quail, chukar, gray partridge, and sage grouse season opener would be on the fourth weekend of September rather than the third with sharptails opening on the same weekend instead of October 1. Chukar, quail, and gray partridge Seasons might be extended through January 31 if the public supports the idea. Motorized vehicle rules might be established on some bird hunts. No changes are recommended for forest grouse hunting.

Wolves Named Game Animals

Idaho's wolves have been designated big game animals, a first step toward eventual hunting seasons.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission unanimously approved changing the official status of gray wolves from "endangered species" to "big game animal" when it met in Boise March 24-26.

Commission action does not mean gray wolves will be hunted in Idaho any time soon. Although federal wildlife authorities have approved the Idaho plan for wolf management, final action to take Idaho wolves off the federal Endangered Species Act list and turn them over to state management is still some time off. Gray wolves were reintroduced in 1996 into Idaho where they have expanded their numbers from 35 to nearly 400.

Secretary of the Interior Gayle Norton has announced a proposal to give tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. "Wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have both crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states," Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states (including Wyoming where a plan acceptable to the federal government has not been concluded), we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can."

Ask Fish and Game

Q. If I applied for a spring controlled black bear hunt, does that mean I can't apply this year for a bighorn sheep hunt?

A. Nope. The rules allow applying for a controlled bear hunt in the same year you apply

for moose, mountain goat or bighorn sheep.

Public Comment Sought For 2004-2005 Upland Game Seasons

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host an open house meeting to collect public comments on proposed recommendations to the 2004-2005 upland game, furbearer and falconry season regulations on Monday, April 12 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clearwater Region office located at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston.

Several proposals have statewide implications, while others are specific to certain areas. Proposed recommendations for the Clearwater Region include:

á Change the opening date for quail, chukar and gray partridge seasons to the fourth 4th) Saturday in September and extend their seasons closure date to January 31.

á Hunting of upland game in the current Manns Lake waterfowl closure will be prohibited.

á Change definition of bait and current methods of take for trapping purposes.

No changes are proposed for falconry, crow, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare or hunting of furbearers.

Fish and Game biologists will be present during the open house to answer questions about the proposed regulations. All comments will be forwarded to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration prior to setting the regulations.

Persons unable to attend the open house can view all proposal and respond by visiting the "What's News" section of the Department website at www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

Clearwater Bear Season Changes Take Effect Fall 2004

LEWISTON - - With Idaho's spring black bear hunting season opening in a few weeks, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds hunters that several regulation changes recently adopted by the Fish and Game Commission will not be effective until the 2004 fall season.

The changes, designed to simplify the regulations and allow additional hunting opportunity, include:

á The season in the northern portion of unit 15 will coincide with the rest of the unit and open on August 30.

á The fall season in management units 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18 will open on August 30.

á Any weapon can be used from August 30 to September 14 in unit's 8A and 10A.

á The use of dogs will be prohibited in unit 8 from October 9 to October 31.

Because of the season setting process, all information concerning the 2004 spring season can be reviewed in the 2003 Big Game Rules Booklet. The 2004-2005 edition will be available in April.

Because bear hunting is a unique sport with its own set of specialized regulations, hunters are reminded that certain units in the Clearwater Region are open to use of bait and dogs, while others are not. Hunters who have obtained permits to hunt over bait must remove all bait containers, materials and any structure constructed at bait sites within seven days after the close of the season.

Successful bear hunters are required to present both the skull and hide to an IDFG regional office, conservation officer or official checkpoint for removal of a premolar and have the pelt tagged within 10 days of harvest. Successful hunters are also required to remove all bear meat from the field.

For more information of bear hunting in the Clearwater Region, contact the IDFG office at 208-799-5010 or visit the Department's website at www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

Motorized Vehicle Rules Expanded

Rules limiting use of motorized vehicles were extended to 10 more hunt units when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission met in Boise March 24-26.

Proposals to add Units 39, 22 and 40 to the list were dropped because of public comments and because U.S. Forest Service rules may make Fish and Game action irrelevant in Unit 39. Forest Service rules under consideration now for the area would restrict vehicles to roadways and designated trails year round, not just during hunting seasons.

Restrictions will apply to Units 29, 30, 30A, 36A, 37A, 45, 52, 53, 56, and 66 for big game hunting this year. This is in addition to the units listed last year: 32, 32A, 48, 49, 50, 51, 58, 59, 59A, 70 and 73. The rule also applies in Unit 47 for big game and bird hunting, 72 for late season archery deer hunting and in 75, 77, and 78 for all deer and elk hunting, not just the late muzzleloader season as it was last year.

The rule has been modified slightly from last year because of legislators' concerns. The rule now says: "The use of motorized vehicles by hunters as an aid to hunting big game is restricted in certain areas. This use restriction is in addition to all federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations, ordinances and orders; including, but not limited to, any motorized vehicle licensing, registration, and permitting requirements and traffic laws. Hunters must comply with all motorized vehicle limits or prohibitions instituted by the landowner or land manager. Also, this use restriction rule is not an exception from, and is in addition to, the statutory prohibition against hunting from or by the use of any motorized vehicle set forth in Idaho Code Section 36-1101(b)(1).