Press Release

July 2004

Falcons take flight over Camas Prairie

JEROME - Four fledgling peregrine falcons are calling the Camas Prairie home after taking flight this past week on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

The four falcons are part of a reintroduction project to establish the once common avian predator to its formally occupied range. This is the second year for this project. Once established in the Fairfield area, they will range from Salmon to the Boise Valley.

Peregrines once could be found in much of Idaho. In the late '60s and early '70s falcons suffered catastrophic population declines attributed primarily to the now banned insecticide DDT. Two of the three peregrine falcon subspecies in North America were listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act of 1973).

Most uses of DDT were banned in the United States in 1972, mainly because of its adverse effects on birds and other wildlife. Idaho was not immune from the population declines of peregrines. In 1975, what was thought to be the last wild American peregrine falcon nest in Idaho was identified in a remote area near Salmon.

With the banning of DDT, wildlife biologists began reintroducing falcons in the lower 48 states. Approximately 6,000 captive bred peregrines were released throughout the United States.

In 1999, after years of steady population gains throughout much of the reintroduction area, American peregrine falcons were removed from the Endangered Species List. Other listed subspecies, which occurs primarily in northern Canada and Alaska, were removed from the list in 1994.

Although no longer listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission lists the American peregrine falcon as a protected nongame species. It is illegal to collect, harm, or otherwise remove protected nongame species from their natural habitat.

Fish And Game Sets Open House To Review 2004-2005 Waterfowl Seasons

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has scheduled an open house meeting for Tuesday, August 10 for the public to review and provide comments on the proposed 2004-2005 waterfowl seasons. The open house will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at IDFG's Clearwater Region Office, 1540 Warner Avenue, in Lewiston. Several biologists will be available during these hours to discuss the proposed regulations.

Currently, a 107-day duck season has been recommended with two days set-aside for the annual youth hunts. A 60-day season for pintail and canvasback ducks is being recommended with no changes being proposed for the goose season.

Those unable to attend can call (208) 799-5010, or send written comments to Wildlife Manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1540 Warner Avenue, Lewiston, Idaho 83501, or fax 208-799-5012 by 5 p.m., Friday, August 13. All comments will go to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration at their next meeting.

Learning about antelope

JEROME - Looking through a set of binoculars, University of Idaho masters student Tim Smyser, watches the antelope stand up in the sagebrush surrounding their beds in the Three Creek area south of Twin Falls.

After stretching and looking around, the animals move off to feed. Tim, armed with a two-way radio and Zip Lock bags, moves off to the bedding area.

This is the second year Tim has studied the antelope, as he tries to understand the determining factors that control their population growth. The three factors he is examining include habitat and the nutritional value of feed, predation, and fawning season weather.

"They are truly an incredible animal," Smyser said. "From the their 60 mile per hour running speed, the desert conditions they survive in, and their long distance seasonal movement, they are truly unique among animals in the state."

After reaching the bedding area by following the directions given to him over the two-way radio from the spotter left at the truck, he picks up samples of antelope droppings. The fecal material collected will be studied at the Washington State University wildlife lab to determine the chemical analysis of and materials the animals are eating.

"We have gathered a lot of information from the chemical analysis," Smyser said. "Last year we collected 130 fecal samples from different animals and this year we have collected 225."

"Most of the samples are taken from adult animals from fawning to weaning season in different types of habitats," he said. "This helps use understand the types of feed the animals need to produce their young and what type of habitats best provide it."

The second part of the study helps them determine the number of coyotes following the does and their new fawns.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. The last time I was buying a big game tag, the clerk asked me what unit I intended to hunt. I didn't think I had to pick one unit, so what's the deal with that?

A. You are right, you do not have to limit your hunting to one unit with a general hunt tag. The reason the clerk asked where you intended to hunt is for purely scientific purposes. Fish and Game wildlife managers need to keep track of the numbers of hunters using hunting areas so they can deal with big game resources better. This research question is not one of the most important ways vital information is gathered but it does add one more tool to the management process.

August 1 is Tag Deadline

The lucky hunters who drew a controlled hunt have only a few days to pick up their tags.

After August 1, unclaimed tags for elk, deer, antelope and fall black bear controlled hunts will go back into a pool for which a second drawing will be held August 25. Hunters have from August 5-15 to apply for the second drawing.

About eight percent of hunters who drew in previous years for big game hunts failed to claim their tags, leaving game management objectives unmet. With the new process and deadline, hunters who want a controlled hunt tag but may have been unsuccessful in the first drawing have a second chance.

Early Tags Available July 28

Hunters who need tags for hunts beginning August 1 can buy them now.

Hunts beginning August 1 include those on the A tag in several elk hunting zones where early and "greenfield" hunts help Idaho Fish and Game wildlife managers control big game depredations on crops.

Tags for most resident big game hunters go on sale beginning August 1.

New Greenfield Elk Hunts Require Special Precautions

By Mike Demick and Clay Hickey - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Scheduling hunting seasons to accommodate a variety of users with individual preferences is a challenging mission for Fish and Game.

There are special weapon hunts, controlled hunts, depredation hunts and general hunts for a variety of species for a variety of people. Some hunters want various seasons to overlap or opening days to coincide, while others want the exact opposite. Landowners with agricultural crops have increasingly expressed their concerns about crop damage and increasing populations. Consequently, regulations become more complex as Fish and Game attempts to accommodate everyone.

Traditionally, the months of September through November have been recognized as the time to hunt and, in general, big game seasons fall within this framework. However, to accommodate the public's desire to hold special weapon seasons separate from general rifle season or to address depredation problems, some hunts are held in August or December.

A new "green-field hunt" for antlerless elk will begin August 1 this year in the Palouse Zone, containing big game management units 8, 8A and 11A of the Clearwater Region. This hunt opens only outside National Forest boundaries within one mile of private fields on which cultivated crops are currently growing. Interested hunters are encouraged to review page 41 of the 2004 Big Game Seasons Rules booklet for more information.

This elk hunt, as well as four other zones in Idaho, is scheduled in August as a result of depredation problems and a need to control populations causing crop damage by harvesting or discouraging animals in specific areas or portions of units.

These hunts have been successful in reducing landowner conflicts in other portions of the State.

However, these early hunts have generated public concern over three main issues: orphaning of yearling elk, meat spoilage and trespass problems.

Steelhead Harvest Starts Early on Lower Clearwater

Anglers have been catching and releasing hatchery bred steelhead on lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July. Starting August 1, they can take some home.

Idaho Fish and Game is opening the steelhead harvest early on about a two-mile stretch of the river from the mouth to the Highway 12 bridge, also known as the Memorial Bridge, in Lewiston.

This is the earliest steelhead harvest opening in many years. Previously, the catch and release season didn't begin until August 1, and the early harvest seasons started September 1.

More than 2,400 steelhead have been counted at Lower Granite Dam. Some of them are now sitting in the lower Clearwater, waiting for the Snake River to turn colder before continuing their migration. "These are more than likely Salmon River fish waiting to move," said Bill Horton, salmon and steelhead coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. "We want to give Clearwater anglers an opportunity to get after some of those early arriving fish that are destined for the Salmon River and other tributaries."

Horton expects a good steelhead run this year and he reminds anglers to look for the clipped adipose fin indicating the fish was reared in a hatchery and can be kept. The limits are three per day, nine in possession and 20 for the fall 2004 season. Any steelhead that still has an adipose fin cannot be kept.

Other steelhead harvest seasons start as follows:

- Clearwater River, South Fork Clearwater River, North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, and Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek - October 15

- Snake and Salmon Rivers - September 1

For regular steelhead counts at Bonneville and Lower Granite dams, visit our website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov

Tips Remain Confidential

By Mark Rhodes - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Some poaching cases would be easier for Fish and Game to make if citizens would give officers a little more than the tip.

I recently completed a wildlife violation case that was started with a tip received from an anonymous caller who refused to leave a name or phone number, and did not want to be contacted again. As this case has come to a close, citations issued and court proceedings held, I have been reminded of how much easier it would have been if only I could have contacted the witness who wished to remain anonymous.

Fish and Game is thankful for any and all information regarding violations, even if they are from an anonymous source. However, the problem with an anonymous source is that almost every investigation reveals questions that could be so easily answered by the witness if they could be contacted. Instead it causes our investigation to either come to a halt or at least delayed unnecessarily.

When a person calls me directly with information regarding a violation, I always ask for a name and number at which I can reach them. I assure them that I will only contact them when and if they agree, and that I will be the only person who will know their identity. I always discuss options for working the case with the witness to keep their identity hidden and not raise suspicion about whether or not they were the person who called me.

I have stopped investigations--and on some I have never proceeded at all--because I did not see any way to work the case without placing the witness in a vulnerable position. My goal is two-sided. I want to work the case effectively and see that the violator is caught, but more importantly I want to protect the witness who was ethical and caring enough to call me.

Upland Game, Furbearer Rules Available

The new 2004-2005 Upland Game Seasons and Rules brochure is available now at license vendors and Fish and Game offices throughout Idaho.

The brochure contains seasons and rules for upland game birds, rabbits and hares as well as covering furbearers, predators and unprotected species. Included in this brochure are seasons and rules for crows, doves and sandhill cranes. Doves and sandhill cranes were previously covered in separate publications. Abbreviated trapping rules are also included in the new brochure.

The brochure can be found on the department Internet web site at http//:fishand game.idaho.gov.

Popular bird seasons begin September 1 when hunting begins for forest grouse and doves.

No major changes were made in the 2004-2005 rules from the last set of rules but hunters should read the new brochure carefully to understand seasons and rules. Hunters should note that these are two-year rules and be careful to refer to season dates for the current year.

Supertag Deadline Near

Hunters interested in Idaho Fish and Game's second Supertag drawing have until the end of July to buy their chance at one of the coveted tags good for any open deer, elk, antelope and moose hunt in the 2004 hunting season.

Supertag sales at vendor sites will end on July 28, 2004 but will continue at Fish and Game state headquarters through July 30. The drawing will be held on August 16.

There will be a total of 17 winners including a second "Superslam Pak" winner.

The first drawing raised more than $108,000 for Fish and Game's Access Yes! program which compensates willing landowners who provide access to private land or allow hunters and anglers to cross their land to get to public property.

Hunters can pick up applications at any license vendor, by phone, or from the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov

Applications can be mailed, but they must be received at headquarters by the close of business on July 30 in order to be eligible.

The 17 second drawing winners will include:

- Five deer

- Five antelope

- Five elk

- One moose

- One Superslam (one person wins tags for deer, elk, antelope and moose)

Media Advisory

An anticipated quorum of Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners will be attending the annual meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Sun Valley July 23-29. The organization of 23 western states and provinces works on fish and wildlife issues of concern in the West. Idaho's director of Fish and Game, Steve Huffaker, serves as the association's president this year. The agenda for the meeting can be found at www.wafwa.org.