Press Release

October 2004

Mule deer hunters enjoy success

JEROME - General season mule deer hunters in southern Idaho enjoyed a 17 percent harvest success for the opening week of season according to Idaho Department of Fish and Game check station data.

In the Magic Valley Region, 572 hunters checked took 111 bucks from Unit 43, for 19.4 percent success; 182 hunters harvested 30 bucks in Unit 48, for 16.5 percent success; and 250 hunters harvested 30 bucks in Unit 49, for 12.0 percent success. In Magic Valley general hunts, 54 percent of the bucks taken were adults.

"Overall I felt the opening weekend of deer season was successful," said Randy Smith, Magic Valley Region Wildlife Manager. "The weather was not as hot and dry as we've had the last several years and hunters were seeing lots of deer. At the Mountain Home station we checked some really good bucks from Units 43 and 44."

For the controlled hunts in the Magic Valley Region, hunters enjoy a much higher success rate. Hunters checked in Units 44, 45, 52, 54, and 55, hunters had a 33.1 percent success rate and 80 percent of the bucks taken were adults.

Controlled antlerless hunters in 43, 48, and 49, were 40.9 percent successful, and either-sex youth hunters were at 40.2 percent successful.

Hunter success was up also in the Pocatello and Idaho Falls areas. Hunter's success in general seasons hunts hovered around 12 percent.

"During the past several years, fawn survival has been high, resulting in increased deer populations in most Magic Valley units, " said Smith. "With the good hunting conditions we're having this year; hunters are able to reap the benefits of the deer increase. Hunters are also taking a higher percentage of mature bucks than we've seen since the mid 1990s."

Rookie Game Warden Gets Off To A Good Start

PLANO - Rookie Conservation Officer (CO) Tyler Peterson had just completed his Idaho Peace Officer and Standards Training (POST) in Boise and was starting his Field Training Officer (FTO) program in Idaho Falls, when a call came in over the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) Hotline that helped kick his career in wildlife law enforcement into high gear. That one tip helped expose a group of poachers in the Upper Snake Valley that had at least taken one adult bull moose, a bull moose calf, and a mule deer doe!

Following up on leads, CO Tyler Peterson and his FTO Senior Conservation Officer (SCO) Lew Huddleston made the rounds of the upper valley; by the time they were done they had uncovered multiple individuals that were responsible for a multitude of not only wildlife, but probation and parole violations. According to Officer Huddleston, "Without the help of the Madison County Probation & Parole this case wouldn't have come together!" The individuals involved with the poached animals had lied to the game wardens about having anything illegal in their home. While game wardens need solid probable cause to obtain a warrant to search a residence, individuals on probation and parole have lost their rights to such protection under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. When Madison County Probation & Parole Officers showed up on the scene a search of the home netted a hoard of evidence betraying that illegal activities had occurred.

According to CO Peterson, "We not only seized cut and wrapped moose meat, but also three firearms and ammunition that may have been used to commit the wildlife violations." In all, officers seized 111 packages of cut and wrapped moose meat weighing about 250 pounds! They also seized a double-barreled .12 gauge shotgun, a lever-action .30-30 rifle and a 6mm Remington rifle. They had also seized a mule deer doe in St. Anthony earlier in the day as part of the investigation.

IDGF Offers Reward For Information On Killing Of Grizzly Bear

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and of those involved in the shooting death of an adult grizzly bear in extreme northern Idaho in the spring of 2004.

The fresh remains of the grizzly were found by a hunter near Hughes Meadows during the spring black bear season. Hughes Meadows is located in Boundary County Idaho, 3 miles east of the Washington state line and 9 miles south of the US/Canada border. The hunter reported the incident to local conservation officers, who have been investigating the case. Additional information is needed to bring the case to completion.

Grizzlies are classified as an endangered species within the Selkirk Mountains of Idaho and Washington and are protected by both state and federal laws. According to Conservation Officer and Grizzly Bear Education Specialist Brian Johnson, "The illegal shooting of grizzlies is by far the leading cause of death for the big bears, and remains one of the greatest challenges to the recovery of a healthy grizzly population in the Selkirk Mountains."

If you have any information concerning a grizzly bear poaching in Idaho, please contact: Conservation Officer Brian Johnson (208) 267-4085, Conservation Officer Rob Soumas (208) 448-2302, the IDFG Panhandle Region Office (208) 769-1414, or the Citizens Against Poaching Hot Line 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous.

Public Invited to Review Whitetail Deer Plan

LEWISTON - Idahoans have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed changes to whitetail deer hunting opportunities.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) will host an open house on Thursday, November 4 to gather public input on the draft Whitetail Deer Plan. IDFG biologists will be on hand to discuss the plan and accept comments at the Clearwater Region office located at 1540 Warner Avenue in Lewiston from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Interested hunters can review the draft plan and provide comments throughout the day, or they can review the plan on the department's web site in the hunting section at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Hunters are also invited to take part in the survey found on the web site.

Under the proposed plan, whitetail deer will be managed separately from mule deer. Currently, hunters buy a deer tag that does not differentiate between the species. Regulations are shaped under the plan to address agricultural depredation by whitetails while recognizing the value of habitat for maintaining existing populations.

Specifically, a new whitetail deer-only tag will be considered for 2005. This new tag could be used wherever whitetail deer seasons occur and could only be used to harvest a whitetail during any general deer season in the state, including the Clearwater Region's late season.

The other choice for hunters would be to purchase a general deer tag, which would allow harvest of either a mule deer or whitetail deer in much of the Clearwater Region no later than November 3, as well as hunt in the rest of the state during any open general deer season.

The plan will be reviewed and may be adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission when it meets in Orofino November 17-19th.

October Is A Batty Time Of Year

In October, it's commonplace to see ghosts and goblins walking the streets. People hang spiderwebs and carve jack-o-lanterns and revel in the scarier parts of life, like monsters, witches, vampires, and bats. Just the word BAT evokes a frightening image for many people. Most imagine bats to be blood-sucking, rabies-carrying, blind hair-tangling beasts that enjoy tormenting innocent individuals. These descriptions, however, are just not reality. Unfortunately, many people fear what they do not understand, and bats are among the most misunderstood animals in the world.

Beyond the misunderstanding, hype, and paranoia, exists an interesting, beautiful, and beneficial group of animals. Many people think that bats are flying rats; in fact, the German word for bat is "fledermaus", which literally means "flying mouse". But bats are not rats! Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing", a separate order from rodents. This is one of the most diverse groups of mammals, with almost 1000 species worldwide. In Idaho, there are 14 species of bats, and all eat insects, not blood. Idaho's 14 species of bats feed on everything from moths and beetles to scorpions and mosquitoes, consuming many forest and agricultural pests. Scientists estimate that one little brown bat can consume up to 600 mosquito-sized insects in one hour!

Bats, in general, are exceptionally resistant to diseases. Contrary to popular belief, humans are not any more likely to contract rabies from a bat than from any other mammal. Like most other mammals, bats can contract rabies, however, it is a common misconception that most bats are rabid. The fact is, less than one half of one percent of wild bats contract rabies. This is an average infection rate among mammals.

Tip Leads to Elk Poacher

On November 7, 2003 Idaho Fish and Game Officers received a tip that a Montana hunter killed a bull elk in Big Game Unit 30-A in Idaho.

Idaho Conservation Officers investigated the tip the following day and found what appeared to be the remains of an elk located in the same area for which information had been received the previous day. Evidence was collected from the scene and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were contacted to assist with the investigation.

An intensive investigation led officers from these three agencies to Daniel J. Strizic, from Butte, Montana. Following an interview with Strizic, officers from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks seized his elk and Idaho officers charged him with the following offenses: (1) hunting without a valid license, (2) hunting without a valid tag, and (3) the possession and/or transportation of game taken unlawfully.

Strizic was scheduled for a pre-trial conference in Salmon on January 27, 2004, but he failed to appear. A warrant for his arrest was issued with a bond set in the amount of $15,000. On April 28, 2004, a plea agreement was reached with Strizic in which he agreed to plead guilty to the following charges; possession and/or transportation of game taken unlawfully and hunting without a valid tag. Strizic's guilty plea was entered and he was order to appear on May 4, 2004 before the Honorable Jerry R. Meyers, Lemhi County Magistrate for sentencing.

Watch for Wintering Wildlife

Snow has already fallen in parts of Idaho and big game animals will soon be on the move, often into situations dangerous to them and to motorists.

When snow covers the high country where big game animals spend most of the year, deer and elk have to move toward the river valleys to find food. That is how deer and elk evolved to survive in the Idaho climate. High-speed roadways now share this winter habitat with potential danger to both animals and motorists.

Drivers need to be aware that big game animals can appear suddenly in their lane almost anywhere in Idaho but they need to be particularly careful where they see warning signs. Those signs are posted on roads by the Idaho Department of Transportation in collaboration with Idaho Fish and Game in an attempt to save animals and motorists from death and injury. The signs are posted mostly in known corridors of heavy use by big game animals.

Slowing down and paying extra attention this time of year and through the winter is the only way to prevent a serious incident, especially as shorter days make spotting animals difficult.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I killed a bull elk this fall that I think might be a record. How do I go about having it measured?

A. First, have some patience. The measuring process cannot take place until the rack has dried for 60 days. All antlers will shrink slightly as they dry but do not try to stop that by refrigerating; only air drying at normal temperature is allowed. Then call Fish and Game at 208-334-3746 and we will send you a form (after all, what kind of a government agency would we be if we did not send you a form to fill out) and arrange for one of the people who measure for Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young to meet with you and your trophy.

November Sportsmen's Breakfast Meeting Scheduled

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages wildlife enthusiasts to attend the November breakfast meeting scheduled at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston for Tuesday, November 2, beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Fish and Game employees will report on the progress of the fall steelhead season, big game and upland game seasons, enforcement activities and other programs. Plans for the managed goose hunts will also be discussed

The informative breakfast meetings are open to anyone with fish and wildlife-related questions, and are designed to stimulate informal discussions about wildlife issues in the Clearwater area. Sportsmen's group representatives are encouraged to give reports of their group's activities.

The meetings are generally held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm Restaurant, with coffee provided by Fish and Game. Individuals with disabilities may request special accommodations by contacting Mike Demick at IDFG, 799-5010, prior to the meeting.

The World Through the Eyes of a Pheasant

By Jerry Deal, Regional Habitat Manager

Idaho Department of Fish and Game - Southwest Region

Most pheasant hunters have a pretty good idea of what upland bird habitat looks like, at least where they want to hunt pheasants.

Imagine, however, how that same area looks to a pheasant, whose eye is only 10 inches from the ground. Consider how a pheasant views the world as it breeds, nests and raises chicks on a Fish and Game Wildlife Management Area (or WMA) in southern Idaho.

The primary limiting factor for pheasants is what biologists call cover, the diverse range of plant structure pheasants need for forage, to hide from predators, to stay warm and dry, and to raise a family. They need it in the right mix at the right time of year. Roosters, hens and chicks each have unique needs, but the local hiding cover must always be able to conceal them from raptors overhead and foxes and feral cats on the ground. Even heavier plant growth - such as thick cattail patches - may provide thermal cover as well as hiding cover when cold, wet storms pass. Much of what is essential cover from a pheasant's perspective may appear only as weeds to the hunter.

While hunter harvest is limited to cock pheasants, the WMA's habitat is managed to provide especially for the cover needs of hens and chicks. After all, hens must survive to raise chicks if roosters are to be produced. Blending with their surroundings is critical for hens to survive the three to four weeks they sit on nests. Since they are mostly brown, they need dry brown vegetation in which to build a nest, and depend on the concealment provided by residual vegetation to avoid predators. Those dead plants left over from last year play an important role for nesting pheasants.

Fish and Game Gets New Digs

Anyone driving past the Salmon Fish and Game office cannot help but notice the construction and resulting mess being created next to the existing office. One entrance is now closed and heavy equipment creates an obstacle course for employees and visitors alike. But all this mess will be worth it when Fish and Game's new office building nears completion next spring.

Fish and Game is currently housed in what was once an old screen shop building with no insulation. The original structure was constructed in 1962 and several additions have been added over the years. Currently, space is cramped for many employees, some of which have no permanent office space to call their own, not even a desk. The heating and air conditioning system is old, tired and inefficient, frequently unable to handle the load during peak periods. Electrical and plumbing systems are also out-dated and do not meet current building codes. In addition, maintenance and repair of the old building has become cost-prohibitive.

It became obvious that a new building was needed to provide a safe efficient environment for staff and visitors. Regional Supervisor Jim Lukens is "Looking forward to having a safe, efficient and properly-sized work facility for both our staff as well as the visiting public. The new building will provide a work atmosphere that will allow the staff to provide the best public service possible."

IDFG & Eagle Rock Bassmasters Hook Up To Bring Largemouth Bass To Mud Lake

MUD LAKE - Everyone knows that ducks and geese head south for the winter, but what about largemouth bass? Well bass don't actually migrate south for the winter, but thanks to the joint efforts of IDFG and the Eagle Rock Bassmasters, 500 large bass formerly of Bonner Lake in extreme northern Idaho will now be calling Mud Lake home.

When members of the Eagle Rock Bassmasters heard about the winter-kill that occurred at Mud Lake last winter they contacted IDFG and said they wanted to help out. According to Regional Fisheries Manager Jim Fredericks, "They called and said they would be willing to help out with people and money to get more bass for Mud Lake". Thanks to the fact that Fredericks had formerly worked in the Panhandle Region for IDFG, he just happened to know of a lake in northern Idaho that had largemouth bass that might be available thanks to a shift in management direction.

The distance as the crow flies between Mud Lake and Bonners is about 350 miles, by truck it's closer to 600 miles! On Sunday, October 17, IDFG fishery personnel and members of the Bassmasters made the 9 hour trek to Bonner Lake. Once there they didn't have much time to rest. They spent the better portion of the night collecting the potential transplants. Biologists and volunteers used a boat equipped with a special electrical system that emanates electricity that draws fish towards the boat, just like moths to a flame. Fortunately, the bass are only stunned, not harmed. They were netted and then placed in a specially designed 500 gallon tank in the back of an IDFG and prepped for their nine hour journey to their new home at Mud Lake.