Press Release

March 2004

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.

Burbot, a.k.a. "The Leopards of the Kootenai"

by: Vaughn L. Paragamian

Principal Fisheries Research Biologist

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The world's only freshwater cod, the burbot is rapidly in decline in the Kootenai River of north Idaho and British Columbia. Burbot found in this area, have been nicknamed the "Leopard of the Kootenai River" because of their attractive color pattern.

Burbot are found around the northern portion of the globe and there are many populations whose numbers are diminishing while some have vanished. In the west, burbot are found in Idaho, Washington, Wyoming and Montana. Burbot are a species of special concern in Idaho, Wyoming , and Montana while in Europe several countries are trying restoration efforts.

Researchers with Idaho Fish and Game have captured only twelve new fish in over five months of continuous sampling this winter. Burbot in the Kootenai River Idaho are genetically different than the fish above Kootenai Falls in the Montana reach.

At one time, the burbot fishery in the Kootenai River of Idaho and the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, produced thousands of fish annually making it one of the most robust burbot fisheries in North America. The Kootenai sport fishery was better than that of the famous Moosehead Lake of Maine. But within a decade of the completion of Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana during the early 70s, the burbot population was in trouble.

Many changes have occurred within the Kootenai River ecosystem. But the drastic increase in river flow from Libby Dam, warmer water during winter (when burbot spawn) and the trapping of nutrients behind the dam are the most serious changes. The loss of nutrients limits the amount of food produced in the river. In turn, less food can reduce the number of burbot and other fish.

Fishing for burbot in the Kootenai River in Idaho was closed in 1992 and it is no longer legal in British Columbia.

Osprey Need a Helping Hand

The return of spring brings with it many things including the osprey. These large brown and white fish-eating birds of prey find the Salmon region an ideal place to spend the summer and raise their young. During 2003, Fish and Game's Nongame Biologist Beth Waterbury documented 29 known osprey-nesting territories in the region.

Osprey build large stick nests in a variety of locations near water. Along the upper Salmon River Corridor osprey most frequently utilize artificial nest platforms and, to a lesser extent, cottonwood snags. When constructing their nests, osprey often add a wide assortment of materials that sometimes seem more decorative than functional. Some of these items include plant stalks, rope, pieces of sod, dried manure, and old boards. More unusual items include barrel hoops, a boat tiller, brooms, feather dusters, shoes and boots, old bones, bird wings, and even a rag doll and a toy boat. Bailing twine seems to be the item of choice of birds in this area and many nests seem to be nearly covered with the long orange strands. Unfortunately, this material can cause serious trouble for the nesting ospreys.

Fish and Game receives many calls each summer from concerned residents reporting an osprey caught in its nest. More often than not, the culprit turns out to be the bailing twine. When used to line the nest, the twine can entangle feet, wings, and even the body of an osprey nestling. Adults can also fall victim. Unless promptly freed, these birds will die. Since bailing twine is not biodegradable, it accumulates in the nests over successive years. Because osprey re-use old nests, the bailing twine turns the nest into a potential death trap for any osprey pair and their nestlings. During 2003, two ospreys were documented as having died as a result of becoming entangled in bailing twine.

Plan B for Lake Cascade

The perch fishery in Lake Cascade might just be restored yet. Fish and Game has unveiled a plan it hopes will bring the perch back to the big reservoir that was once Idaho's most popular fishery.

After the perch population crashed in the early 1990s, fisheries biologists went to work trying to determine why. A number of factors were identified, including the fact that northern pikeminnows were gobbling up young perch, preventing recovery. A recent proposal to drain the lake and treat the remaining water to eliminate pikeminnows was ultimately rejected because of possible shortages of water for salmon flow augmentation releases out of the Payette River drainage.

Despite this setback, Fish and Game remains committed to restoring the yellow perch fishery in Lake Cascade, and plan B has been formulated. The restoration process faces two major hurdles: first, adult perch numbers in the lake are minimal; their offspring rarely survive beyond two years of age, a situation that has occurred regularly since the early 1990s.

A second problem relates to perch predation by those pesky northern pikeminnows. The pikeminnow population was so strong in Lake Cascade in the 1990s that they effectively consumed any and all young perch produced each year. And since additional perch are not plying the waters of Lake Cascade, pikeminnows have sought out alternative food stuffs, cannibalized their own offspring. This situation has been occurring for about the last five years, leaving only adult pikeminnows in the lake. Further, the limited food supply has led to a decline in pikeminnow numbers. This situation presents a management opportunity that Fish and Game hopes to exploit.

Plan "B"

Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area Offers Convenient Wildlife-Watching

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) reminds teachers, youth leaders and interested individuals that the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area provides a convenient place to glimpse into Idaho's many landscapes and abundant wildlife.

Located next the IDFG Clearwater Office at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston, the area includes a paved trail that winds through the seven-acre site, leading to a variety of habitats and discovery. A wildlife viewing shelter with one-way glass provides excellent wildlife photography opportunities, while a stream-viewing window provides a unique fish-eye view of a stream habitat.

Educational supplements and guided tours of the area can be arranged in advance by contacting IDFG at 799-5010. The area is also open anytime for self-guided tours, quiet visits to observe wildlife or just relaxation in the peaceful outdoor setting.

Various evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs attract a variety of wildlife to the area. Over seventy-five species of birds have been observed, as well as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

Once a hayfield, the construction of the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area began in 1985. Many agencies, businesses, schools, clubs and individual volunteers have contributed money and labor in the construction and improvements.

Hunter Education Course Offered In Deary

DEARY - A hunter education course for students in the Deary area is scheduled for the evenings of March 29, 30, 31, and April 1 with a field shoot planned for April 3. For more information and to register for this class, contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-799-5010.

The following information is required when registering for the course: full legal name, street address and zip, date of birth, social security number and phone number.

Because of high interest and limited space, prospective students, especially those living in Deary, Bovill, Kendrick and Juliaetta are encouraged to register for this class so they can complete the course in time to buy a license to hunt wild turkeys this spring. Idaho law requires that anyone born after January 1st, 1975 must complete an IDFG hunter education course as a prerequisite to purchasing a hunting license.

Students must be at least 10-years old to enroll. Fees for the student's workbook and ammunition are $8. Parents or legal guardians are encouraged to accompany the students and participate in the entire program. The course is a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on experiences that last approximately 12 to 16 hours.

Chinook Head Back to Idaho

Anglers can expect to be fishing by mid-April on a spring chinook run projected to be more than triple last year's.

Biologists are predicting 114,000 to 167,000 chinook over Lower Granite Dam-the last major dam before the fish enter Idaho. The run was estimated at 43,300 last year and 75,000 the year before.

Most of the salmon - 70 to 80 percent - will be hatchery fish. Anglers are allowed to keep only hatchery salmon. Wild salmon must be returned unharmed to the water.

Fishing will be opened on the Salmon River, Clearwater River and Little Salmon River.

Illegal Bighorn Head Sale Brings Sentences

The illegal sale of bighorn skulls and horns to Idaho Fish and Game special investigators has brought down heavy fines and penalties on two Challis men.

A Horseshoe Bend man awaits sentencing in the same case but was not in court when the Challis residents were sentenced in Custer County. Felony charges in the case were reduced to misdemeanors in plea agreements. The court cited cooperation on the part of the defendants and the fact that the bighorn heads had been legally collected, not taken by poaching.

Magistrate Charles Roos recently sentenced Daniel E. Woodbridge, 23, to one year in the Custer County jail but suspended the jail time for four years of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $2,715 in fines and court costs and to pay $1,000 in restitution to Fish and Game. Woodbridge pleaded guilty to 15 misdemeanors involving the sale of bighorn skulls.

Michael D. Sheppeard, 44, was sentenced to 30 days of jail time, suspended for one year of unsupervised probation after a plea to 14 misdemeanors. Judge Roos ordered Sheppeard to pay $2,534 in fines and court costs.

Marlen J. (Jim) Mitchell, 22, of Horseshoe Bend agreed to plea to eight counts of aiding and abetting Woodbridge in the sale of the skull. His sentencing date was not announced.

Judge Roos said Woodbridge and Sheppeard stood to make $3,000 in the sale, so he set monetary penalties to match.

Fish and Game special investigators were investigating a mule deer case when they were offered the bighorn heads. Using cash borrowed from the Citizens Against Poaching organization, the agents agreed to a transaction that was videotaped and recorded.

The sale involved nine bighorn heads with horns attached. One head was sold for $1,000 and eight others for $5,000. The heads were collected by the men or others; none of the animals were known to be shot.

April is Month for Trophy Species Applications

April is the month for applying to draw for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts.

Applications for these controlled hunts will be accepted through April 30. Hunters may apply at Fish and Game offices or license vendors and can apply using a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685; Internet users can apply through Fish and Game's website at www2.state.id.us/fishgame.

For moose, goat and sheep hunt applications only, the entire permit fee must be paid with the application. All but the $6.50 application fee will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including permit fee, costs $164.50; nonresidents pay $1,514.50. Fees are the same as they were last year.

Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30.

Hunters who apply for moose, goat and sheep may not apply for any other controlled hunt in the same year except for unlimited controlled hunts, controlled bear hunts or depredation hunts. Those who draw a moose, goat or sheep permit and do not have a kill may not apply to hunt the same species for two years. No one may apply for a moose who has killed one in Idaho or for a mountain goat who has killed one since 1977. Anyone who has killed a California bighorn or a Rocky Mountain bighorn may not apply again for the same type of sheep but may apply for the other subspecies.

Access Yes Lottery Story Correction

The 3-15-04 story on lottery tags to support Access Yes contained the following incorrect statement:

"Once-in-a-lifetime moose restrictions do not apply when buying chances in these drawings, however, if you kill a moose in a supertag hunt, you would have taken your "once-in-a-lifetime" as far as regular moose hunts go. You could still apply in future supertag moose drawings."

Supertag lottery tags are completely exempt from the once-in-a-lifetime rules, so it should have read:

"Once-in-a-lifetime moose restrictions do not apply when buying chances in these drawings, and any harvest in these hunts does not affect eligibility to apply in any moose drawing, including future supertag moose drawings"

I apologize for any problems this may have caused.

Jack Trueblood, HQ Information Officer

Ask Fish and Game

Q. If I draw for an antlered deer hunt this year, I know I cannot apply for an antlered deer hunt next year. My question is, does this affect whether I can apply for an antlered elk hunt?

A. No, your application or drawing for deer in a controlled hunt has nothing to do with controlled hunts for elk (and vice versa).