Press Release

January 2005

Thirst for Knowledge - A Challenging Priority for Idaho Fish and Game

There is a great thirst for knowledge about the natural wonders of Idaho, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is working hard to meet the public demands for educational opportunities.

"Conservation education is one of the most important tools that wildlife managers have for opening the minds of citizens to the value and complexity of conservation, as well as the enjoyment that can be realized from fish and wildlife resources," said Kevin Frailey, IDFG conservation education supervisor.

But providing an understanding of the value of conserving our natural resources faces many challenges. In 1950, approximately 71 percent of the world's population was rural. People grew their own food. They hunted, fished, trapped and watched much of the natural world transpire while doing so. Today, the majority of the world's population lives in an urban setting and watches the natural world transpire on television.

"How do we contend with an ever-growing population that has never seen a hawk kill a rabbit, heard the call of a wild turkey, felt the tug of a fish on the end of a line, or even picked up a frog from a pond?" he said.

Because like most states, IDFG is funded largely through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and federal excise taxes on sporting equipment, Frailey credits sportsmen and sportswomen with helping fund the majority of IDFG's conservation education efforts. "True hunters and anglers have always recognized that they have a responsibility to pass along their heritage of conservation to the next generation," he said.

But in the wake of changing demographics and declining participation in hunting and fishing, most agencies including IDFG, are now focused on hunter/angler recruitment and retention programs. Because hunters and anglers pay most of the bills, this certainly makes sense.

More Trout for the Treasure Valley

Treasure Valley anglers will find more and bigger fish in area ponds and reservoirs in the next two weeks after an eastern Idaho commercial fish farm donated around 60,000 pounds of rainbow trout to Fish and Game. The fish farmer - who wishes to remain anonymous - is going out of business and had no market for the fish. He offered them to the department rather than letting them go to waste.

"These are very nice fish", Fish and Game fishery manager Jeff Dillon noted. "They probably average a pound or so each, but some are in the three and four pound range. They'll provide a little extra excitement for kids and others who fish Treasure Valley ponds."

Fish and Game hatchery staff have already begun hauling the fish to southwest Idaho. Most of the trout are being stocked in C.J. Strike and Lucky Peak Reservoirs, but more than 2,000 fish are also being stocked in local ponds. In the Boise area, Park Center Pond, Quinn's Pond, Veterans' Park Pond and Riverside Pond have begun receiving the bonus fish. Meridian's Settler's and McDevitt Ponds, Merrill and Eagle Island Ponds in Eagle and Sawyer's Pond in Emmett are likewise being stocked with the bonus trout.

Because the commercial fish are fertile (capable of reproducing), Fish and Game has limits on where they can be stocked, according to Dillon. "As a matter of policy, we can only stock these fish in places where they can't interbreed with wild trout," Dillon said. "C.J. Strike, Lucky Peak, and the local ponds are ideal locations." The fish are in addition to the normal quota of stocked trout from department hatcheries.

International Wildlife Film Festival Features Local Film

Idaho kids get the chance to put themselves in the shoes, make that paws or talons, of some of the earth's coolest animals.

A locally produced kid's film, honored at the International Wildlife Film Festival will be featured this Wednesday and Thursday at Boise's Flicks Theater as part of the post festival tour.

Fast Food: A Predator's World took top honors in the children's program category at the 27th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF). The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, along with Wide Eye Productions, produced the 10-minute video to educate school children about predator-prey relationships.

The fast-paced program uses wildlife footage interspersed with vignettes featuring kids to illustrate wildlife concepts. Most people tend to sympathize with prey animals. Fast Food tries to get school children to also view the relationship from the predator's angle. It asks questions like; Did you know that a predator may hunt nine or ten times before it catches any prey? Can you imagine if you ordered a pizza and nine times in a row the box was empty? That's what it's like for predators.

Fast Food will be featured along with nine other wildlife films. Proceeds will support Boise's Annual Bald Eagle Day at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival on Saturday, January 29 and other conservation and education efforts.

Tickets can be purchased at the Flicks Theater, 646 Fulton Street. Adult admission is $7.50, children, seniors and students will be admitted for $5.50. Matinees are also $5.50. Show times are 4:30, 7 and 9:15 pm, Wednesday January 26, and Thursday January 27. Thursday's 4:30 matinee is programmed especially for children. Fast Food will be included in all of the showings except the 7pm and 9:15 pm showings on Thursday.

Ask Fish and Game

Q: I was driving into downtown Boise this week, and noticed a giant billboard, advertising wildlife license plates. Does money from license fees pay for this advertising?

A: No. The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation put up the money for the billboards in a statewide effort to encourage Idahoans to purchase or renew wildlife plates. The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving Idaho's outdoor heritage. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game uses money raised from the sale of wildlife license plates for numerous conservation and education programs. Idaho's non-game and watchable wildlife programs receive most of their funding from wildlife license plate sales and renewals.

Hunter and bowhunter education registration set

JEROME - Youth wanting to apply for controlled hunts this spring need to plan now to sign-up for one of several hunter education classes that are being offered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

To help students find the class they need, the department will have five registration sites, each with a number of classes to choose from.

Sign ups for fall classes will be held the third week of February at:

- Feb. 14 - Blaine County Sheriff's Office, 201 First Avenue South, in Hailey from 2-7 p.m.

- Feb. 15 - Cassia County Sheriff's Office, 129 East Fourteenth Street, in Burley from 2-7 p.m.

- Feb. 16-17 - Boy Scout Service Center, 2988 Falls Avenue East, in Twin Falls from 4-7 p.m.

- Feb. 18 - Fish & Game Regional Office, 868 East Main Street, in Jerome from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

- Feb. 21-25 - Farmer's Insurance Office, 130 Broadway Avenue North, in Buhl from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Registration requires an address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number for each student. Cost is $8 per student.

Students completing the class will receive a free small game hunting license for this year's hunting season. Students 12 and older wishing to hunt big game this fall must upgrade to a junior hunting license. Cost for the upgrade is $3.50 at any Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office or for $6.50 at other license vendors.

For more information, call 324-4359.

Mule deer fawns captured and marked to assess winter survival

JEROME - Mule deer in the Magic Valley Region are in good physical condition and after trapping and radio collaring 26 fawns in the South Hills, biologist will be able to monitor their survival throughout the winter.

"The deer look to be in very good shape," said Randy Smith, Magic Valley Region Big Game Manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "We captured 13 doe and 13 buck fawns that averaged just over 77 pounds each. They appear to be in very good physical condition which should result in good survival this winter."

Each of the fawns captured were fitted with a radio collar, each with a different frequency. Idaho Fish and Game wildlife technicians will monitor the fawns every other day for the next five months. As long as the fawn is alive the technicians will hear a beep every two seconds on their receiver, if the fawn dies they will get a mortality tone or a beep every second.

If the mortality tone is heard, the technician will then find the animal and determine the cause of death.

At the conclusion of winter, biologists are able to track these fawns back to their summer ranges. The radio collars are attached with surgical tubing allowing the collars to drop off and be used for as many as four winters.

The study helps biologists assess the status of deer populations and understand what factors are important in driving deer numbers. This information combined with hunter harvest data, public input, and aerial surveys is used to determine hunting seasons for the upcoming fall.

The South Hills is one of 10 study areas in the state the Idaho Department of Fish and Game uses to monitor mule deer winter survival across southern Idaho.

For more information, call 324-4359.

Commission Changes Longstanding Moose Rule

Hunters of Idaho moose can take more than one moose in a lifetime beginning with the 2005 season.

For generations, hunters were limited to one moose taken in a controlled hunt. After a hunter had harvested one moose in a controlled hunt, that hunter could not apply again.

As Idaho moose numbers expanded, cow hunts were added where herds came into conflict with agricultural and urban development. In recent years, those cow hunts were undersubscribed, with leftover permits as a result. Until now, a moose killed under a leftover permit would count as a hunter's lifetime moose. Achieving enough cow harvest became a problem.

Meeting in Boise January 19-21, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted a department recommendation to allow harvest in a controlled hunt of one antlered moose and one antlerless moose in a lifetime. The Commission also voted to change the rule on leftovers so that moose taken with a leftover permit does not count against the lifetime limit. With the change to allow an antlerless and an antlered moose, leftover permits may be much reduced.

The department did not recommend wholesale reductions in the number of permits in some hunt areas so they could be managed to increase the average antler spread of harvested bulls. That idea was discussed in public meetings. Most hunters preferred a greater chance to draw than the certainty of encountering more older, larger bull moose. Instead, the department trimmed the number of permits to insure that all hunt areas produced some older bulls, but without significant reduction in hunt permits. Statewide, the Commission approved 1,086 permits for moose, and 864 permits for antlered moose, in 2005-2005, which is about 90% of the number of permits offered in 2004.

Commission Encourages Preference Points

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has directed the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to further investigate a point system for controlled hunts in Idaho.

Dr. Wayne Wright, Commissioner from the Magic Valley Region made the motion at the commission meeting on Friday, January 21.

"It's a very popular concept right now." Wright said. "I think we're faced with the reality that there's a real demand out there."

Such a system would award points to those who apply for controlled hunts, but whose names are not drawn. In theory, a hunter's odds would increase each time he/she was unsuccessful at drawing.

At a Commission workshop earlier in the week, Wildlife Chief Jim Unsworth presented the Commission with a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of such a program, based on points programs already in use in Nevada and Oregon. He provided the Commission with documentation showing how the systems work in those states.

"Generally people with the most points drew a permit." said Unsworth as he ran down the numbers from Nevada's system of bonus points.

However, Unsworth said such systems are of little value in hunts with the least odds of drawing.

"For hunts that are easy to draw, it (Oregon's preference point system) works well." he said "It falls apart in hunts that have less than ten percent odds of drawing."

In Idaho a substantial percentage of people applying for controlled hunts are putting in for those hunts with less than a ten percent chance of drawing, including 45 percent of deer applicants, 50 percent of antelope applicants, 53 percent of goat applicants, and 92 percent of sheep applicants.

Conical Bullets Allowed

Hunters in traditional muzzleloader hunts will now be able to use conical bullets as well as round ball projectiles.

Meeting in Boise January 19-21, The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a department recommendation to change the rule for traditional muzzleloader hunts in which hunters use old-style rifles that exposed the ignition system to weather. The rules had permitted only round balls in these hunts.

Muzzleloader hunters had asked to be allowed to use conical bullets because of better penetration that result in more humane kills.

Big game manager Brad Compton told Commissioners that conical bullets offer no advantage in trajectory or effective range. He added that conical bullets came along early in the history of firearms and were available well before the Civil War. Lead or lead-alloy, non-jacketed conical bullets will be allowed but sabots will not be permitted in traditional muzzleloader hunts.

Some hunters had asked that the Commission consider allowing low-power scope sights in traditional hunts because of eyesight problems. The department did not recommend that change, however, and several Commissioners indicated they were not willing to move in that direction.

Idaho holds two kinds of muzzleloader hunts, including the traditional and other hunts, in which muzzleloading rifles using modern technology are allowed.

Hunters in traditional muzzleloader hunts will now be able to use conical bullets as well as round ball projectiles.

Strategic Plan Adopted

A strategic plan for the direction of Idaho Fish and Game programs over the next 15 years has been adopted by the Fish and Game Commission.

Meeting in Boise January 19-21, the Commission voted to accept the document, called The Compass. The Commission had held the document since July for further revision.

The plan sets broad direction for the department and was developed through one of the largest public involvement projects Fish and Game has ever mounted. The project began in 2001.

Turkey Regulations Available

Hunters looking forward to hunting turkeys in Idaho this year will find the 2005 Wild Turkey Seasons & Rules booklet now available at all license vendors and Fish and Game offices.

There are three types of turkey tags available for the 2005 season: General, Extra, and Junior/Disabled American Veteran/Senior. The general tag is valid for all general seasons. If the general tag is not used to harvest a turkey in the spring season it may be used in the fall general season. The general tag may also be used with a spring controlled hunt permit to hunt in a spring controlled hunt. On or after May 1, an extra tag may be used in general spring season. If the extra tag is not filled during the spring hunt, then that unused tag can be used a fall general hunt.

Youth hunters wanting to hunt in the general season youth hunt scheduled for April 9-10 must be 15 years old or younger on the opening date of April 9. Last year, youth hunters had to be 15 or younger as of January 1. Hunters applying for a controlled hunt open to youth only, must be 15 years old or younger on the hunt opening date of April 15. All youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years or older.

The daily bag limit is one bearded turkey per day in the spring and one turkey of either sex in the fall. No more than three turkeys may be taken per year. No more than two bearded turkeys may be taken in the spring. No more than two turkeys, either sex, may be taken in the fall.

In the Clearwater Region, fall general turkey hunts will run from September 15 to October 9 in all Big Game Management units. From November 21 to December 31 hunters can hunt only on private land in Units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A and 16.

"Turkey hunting should be great again this year," Clearwater Region Wildlife Manager Jay Crenshaw predicts. "The population is increasing in some areas and hunters should take advantage of it."

Commission Adopts Whitetail plan

At its quarterly meeting in Boise, The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved a new plan for managing white-tailed deer in Idaho. The new plan is designed to offer more opportunity and flexibility to Idaho hunters.

Hunters purchasing a general deer tag (any-weapon) will be able to hunt white-tailed deer and mule deer, but will be limited to earlier hunts, primarily in October. Hunters opting for a white-tailed deer tag (any weapon) will be limited to taking white-tailed deer only, however they will be able to hunt open seasons statewide and will be given the latitude to continue hunting in November where late hunts are available. The Department of Fish and Game will work to standardize the seasons as much as possible. The addition of white-tailed deer tags does away with the need for Clearwater tags, giving hunters more options while alleviating concerns of landowners in North Idaho.

Biologists will work to improve white-tail deer habitat statewide, and will work with private and public landowner to improve habitat and increase access. The plan also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a good percentage of mature white-tailed bucks in Idaho. The goal will be to maintain the harvest of bucks with five points or more on the right antler at a statewide minimum of 15 percent. The goal in North Idaho is to maintain the five point buck harvest at a minimum of 17 percent in the Panhandle Region and the west half of the Clearwater Region.