Press Release

May 2004

Sturgeon Reward Increased

The heat is on.

The reward offered in the case of the poached Snake River sturgeon has been increased to $1500 thanks to an avid sturgeon angler angered by the poaching incident.

Off Road Specialty in Garden City added $500 to the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) reward of $1000. "The owner of this business is an avid sturgeon angler himself," Fish and Game regional conservation officer Jeff Wolfe said. "And like many people we've heard from, he's quite upset that this big fish was stolen from the public."

Persons with information regarding this incident are encouraged to call the CAP hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous.

Since the poaching incident was publicized, a number of calls have come in. "We've heard from several people who provided us with some good information," Wolfe noted. "We intend to follow up on each of those tips just as quickly as we can."

Two men poached the nine-foot fish from the Snake River below Swan Falls Dam on Sunday, April 11, at about 4:00pm. The two men loaded the huge fish into a mid-1970s blue Ford pickup truck and drove away. The suspects are Caucasian and both in the early thirties. One man is described as more than six feet tall, heavy set with short hair. The other suspect is described as about five feet, eight inches tall with a dark tan.

Anglers - Keep the Whole Bass

Bass anglers are reminded that harvested bass must remain whole - no filleting - until the fish are transported to their final destination. Officers have witnessed a wave of violations associated with anglers filleting bass in the field prior to transport.

At a recent check station, Fish and Game officers and reservists checked 269 anglers and 189 turkey hunters over the course of the day. Of the 458 licenses checked, officers identified more than 40 violations; all but three were fishing violations. The most common violation was transporting filleted bass from Brownlee Reservoir, for which officers wrote 22 citations and warnings. Other violations included overlimits of bass, undersized bass, possessing live fish, and three unlawfully taken steelhead from below Hells Canyon Dam.

In Idaho, harvested bass can be gutted, but the head and tail must remain naturally attached during transport. "This is the case for any fish species where length limits apply," Fish and Game fish manager Jeff Dillon noted. "The length limit rule has been in place for many years for bass, trout, salmon, and several other species."

Brownlee is the region's most popular fishery, and many anglers go there to fill their freezer with crappie, catfish, and bass. Because crappie and catfish have no bag or size limits, they can be filleted in the field prior to transport. In Brownlee, bass must be 12 inches or larger to be legally harvested. The only way to enforce this bass length limit rule is if the fish are transported intact.

For more information regarding the bass length limits at Brownlee Reservoir, contact Fish and Game's Nampa office at 465-8465.

Fish Restoration begins at Arrowrock Reservoir

The first steps towards providing quality fishing at Arrowrock Reservoir are now in the works. Nearly 17,000 catchable rainbow trout (eight- to 11-inch fish) were stocked in the reservoir in late April, with plans to stock more fish in the reservoir throughout 2004.

The stocking effort is part of a mitigation package agreed to and paid for by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency overseeing management of Arrowrock Reservoir and Dam. The reservoir was drawn down last year so workers could replace some aging valves at the base of the dam. Because the reservoir was drawn down to less than two percent of capacity, nearly all of the reservoir's game fish ended up in Lucky Peak Reservoir, the next stop below Arrowrock.

Normal fish stocking in Arrowrock averages about 150,000 fingerling trout annually. But the Bureau of Reclamation agreed to pay for extra stocking to make up for the fishing opportunity lost as a result of the drawdown. In 2004, plans call for the stocking of 140,000 catchable rainbow trout, 180,000 fingerling rainbows, and 77,000 fingerling kokanee. "The catchable rainbows will provide some immediate fishing opportunity," Fish and Game fish manager Jeff Dillon noted. "Next year, when the fingerlings have grown to catchable size, we should see some great fishing at the reservoir."

For more information regarding the restocking effort at Arrowrock Reservoir, contact Fish and Game's Nampa office at 465-8465.

Controlled Hunt Application Extended

Controlled hunts applications will be accepted until midnight Wednesday, June 2, 2004. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game extended the application period to accommodate people who were unable to apply over the weekend because of failures in the point of sale licensing system.

"We apologize for the inconvenience to anyone who was applying for a controlled hunt or buying a fishing license," said department director Steve Huffaker. "The license system went down completely on Monday and had some problems off and on over the weekend," Huffaker said.

Internet and telephone sales were not affected, but the point of sale system was affected by problems with hardware and satellite communication provided by a subcontractor to the developer of the license system.

"The developer of the license system, GTECH, assures us it is conducting a thorough investigation to determine what happened so future problems can be prevented," Huffaker said.

"We recognize the problems with the licensing system may have disrupted some people's plan to go fishing over the Memorial Day weekend. We apologize for that," said Huffaker. "I have directed GTECH come up with a backup method of accommodating customers, even if the system fails," Huffaker said. "We want to make sure people can get a hunting or fishing license regardless of whether the system is working or not. In the meantime, we're trying to accommodate people who were inconvenienced by the problem this weekend," Huffaker added.

Controlled hunt applications will be accepted at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, by telephone or over the internet until midnight, Wednesday, June 2, 2004.

Free Fishing Day Aims To Hook New Anglers

LEWISTON - Saturday, June 12 is Idaho's Free Fishing Day and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites anglers, residents and nonresidents, to celebrate the day afield by fishing Idaho's waters without a license. All other fishing regulations pertaining to limits, opening dates and tackle restrictions remain in effect.

The following are special events that will be offered throughout the Clearwater Region to teach beginning anglers the joys of fishing.

- Spring Valley Reservoir near Troy - IDFG will host a fishing clinic for children beginning at 8 a.m. Experienced anglers will be on hand to demonstrate filleting and cooking techniques.

- Mann Lake near Lewiston - IDFG will host a fishing derby from 9 a.m. to noon.

- Fenn Pond - IDFG will hold a youth fishing clinic at the small pond, located five miles from Lowell on Forest Service Road 223. The clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon.

- Wilkin's Pond - The Forest Service, IDFG, BLM and Grangeville Lion's Club will host a derby for children ages five through 11 at the pond, located on the prairie west of Grangeville. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the derby hours 9:00 a.m. to noon.

- Karolyn's Pond near Elk City -IDFG will be hosting a youth fishing clinic that will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

- Fred Warren Pond in North Lewiston - IDFG will host a kids fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to noon.

- Box Canyon Pond, also know as Long Gulch Pond near Riggins - IDFG will host a kids fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to noon.

- Winchester Lake near Winchester - IDFG will host a kids fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to noon.

- Deer Creek Reservoir near Headquarters - IDFG will host a kids fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to noon.

New On-line and Home-Study Hunter Education Courses Offer Convenience

LEWISTON - With Idaho's traditional hunter education courses for the Lewiston-area already filled with students, the new online and independent home-study courses remain available for future hunters age 14-year or older who may have difficulty fitting the regular course into their busy schedule.

Both courses are designed to allow students to do much of the course at their convenience and are ideal for busy students, shift workers, business travelers or students needing extra time to study.

In addition, both independent home study and online students must pre-register for and attend a one-day course completion class 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 next course completion class is scheduled for Saturday, June 19, and we still have a limited number of seats open," says Kent Henderson, hunter education coordinator for Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). "Anyone who wishes to attend this session must pre-register by calling me or registering in person at the Lewiston Fish and Game office." Henderson can be contacted at the Lewiston IDFG office located at 1540 Warner Avenue or by calling (208) 799-5010.

To complete the independent study option, students must complete a 40-page workbook and attend the course completion day. Student manuals, workbooks and materials may be obtained from Henderson at IDFG.

To receive credit for completing the online course option, students must complete either the IHEA Introduction to Hunter Education course available at www.IHEA.com, or Today's Hunter, a nine-chapter course and the online Pre-Certification Exam available through the Idaho Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov or at http://hunter-ed.com/id/.

Lower Snake Salmon Season to Close

Spring chinook salmon season on the Lower Snake River, from Lewiston upstream about 30 miles to Heller Bar, closes at the end of fishing hours on Monday, May 31. In the first four weeks of that season, 100 salmon were kept by anglers, 74 caught and released, and 6,600 hours of angler effort expended.

The season on the southern end of Hells Canyon, from the Dug Bar boat ramp upstream to Hells Canyon Dam, remains open until August 1, unless it is closed earlier for biological reasons. Seasons are also open in the Clearwater River drainage, Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

Leave Young Animals Alone

By Mike Demick, Conservation Educator, Clearwater Region

With May and June being the peak time for Idaho's wildlife to have their young, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game offers this simple suggestion to well-intentioned people finding baby animals that appear to be abandoned: Leave them alone.

Most young wildlife picked up by well-meaning, concerned citizens do not survive in captivity and have no survival skills to allow release back to the wild.

"If you encounter young wildlife that seems stranded, it's best to leave it alone," cautions Jay Crenshaw, wildlife manager. "Chances are the mother is close by waiting for you to leave."

Resisting the urge to pick up "abandoned" wildlife helps ensure it will remain wild. Fish and Game has only a few alternatives when dealing with animals removed from the wild. They can attempt to rehabilitate the animal and place it back in the wild, which often fails because of the animal's unnatural bonding to people. The second choice is to place it in a zoo, where it is forever removed from the wild. In some cases, animals must be euthanized.

It is recommended that if a small animal, such as a bird, rabbit or squirrel is found near a home, it should be placed back in the nest if possible and left undisturbed. All wild animals have a better chance of survival if left alone than if raised in a human environment.

Plan B for Lake Cascade

Contact: Evin Oneale 208-465-8465 idfg-eoneale@idfg.state.id.us

It was once the most popular fishing hole in Idaho. Now, it's a water skiing lake. But that's not stopping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in its efforts to restore Lake Cascade's once prolific yellow perch fishery. While the original proposal to drain the lake has been dropped, plan B is now underway.

"What we've kind of humorously called plan B, is to do a two pronged thing on Cascade," said Dale Allen, Fisheries Manager. "It's to introduce large numbers of yellow perch spawners back into the system and secondly to reduce the number of predators on the perch. The main predator is northern pike minnow, which used to be called squawfish."

This year's perch stocking effort has just been completed. Fish and Game personnel trapped and moved 100,000 adult perch from Phillips Reservoir (near Baker City, Oregon) and nearly 40,000 perch from Montpelier Reservoir in eastern Idaho. These locations were targeted for perch trapping, not only because they hold excess perch, but also because both reservoirs are at elevations similar to Cascade. Stocking efforts will continue for several years, with the idea that these fish will spawn, producing more young yellow perch than can be consumed by the current pikeminnow population.

The second half of plan B, reducing the number of pikeminnows in Lake Cascade, is now underway. Between bolstering the perch population and reducing the pikeminnow population (both to be done over a several year period), the hope is that perch will eventually "take root" in Lake Cascade, leading to the exciting fishery that once thrived there, a fishery that was an economic boon for the area and for Idaho.

Hunters Can Apply for Second Moose Drawing

Hunters who want another chance to draw a moose hunt for this fall can apply June 15-25. You may apply in this second drawing or purchase a leftover moose tag even if you have previously harvested a moose in Idaho.

The drawing will be held June 30. No mountain goat or bighorn sheep permits were left over from the regular drawing.

Leftover moose tags have been available over the counter in previous years but, to make the process more fair, a second drawing was set up for this year. Application, permit and tag fees must be included. Winners will be notified by July 10, which is also the day for any tags left over from the second drawing to go on sale over the counter.

Controlled hunt applications can be filed through license vendors, Fish and Game offices, on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov or by calling 1-800-824-3729.

The following moose hunts are available:

Ask Fish and Game

Q. When is Free Fishing Day this year?

A. June 12 is the day. The usual rules and limits apply but no one needs to be in possession of a fishing license on that day. Watch for special events in your region.

Canada goose breeding population increase in Magic Valley Region

JEROME - Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists counted 712 Canada goose breeding pairs in the Magic Valley Region this spring. This is the most birds biologist have counted in the region since 1998.

Drought conditions in the Magic Valley Region have continued to drive goose numbers down over the past six years, while goose number throughout much of the Rocky Mountain Region continue to remain high.

Low goose reproduction numbers was the main reason for the Magic Valley Region's lower bag limits. While the rest of the state has a four dark-goose bag limit, the Magic Valley Region could only substance a three-goose limit.

The information gathered from the count in the Magic Valley Region and counts conducted in other parts of the county have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The count information enables them to follow national trends in goose populations. Biologists will use the information to set season length and bag limits for the fall hunting seasons throughout Idaho and the United States.

Goose reproduction, like with all game animals, is a key component in setting season lengths, bag limits, and methods of take. As populations increase, it allows biologist to increase opportunity while maintaining population goals.

Year Pairs Total

82 559 1483

83 470 1451

84 557 1162

85 550 1331

86 461 1029

87 577 1504

88 814 2057

89 621 1081

90 802 1729

91 735 1831

92 650 1528

93 686 1282

94 892 2009

95 621 1571

96 329 730

97 ND ND

98 875 2262

99 613 1955

00 571 1282

01 532 1231

02 632 1177

03 497 1023

04 712 1533

Average 598 1402