Press Release

April 2005

Big Cottonwood WMA, a fun place to visit

OAKLEY - Hiking, biking, fishing, and viewing wildlife are just a few of the things you can do at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area (WMA), seven miles northwest of Oakley.

"This is just a great time of year to visit Big Cottonwood," said Mike Todd, Idaho Fish and Game Magic Valley Region Habitat Biologist. "The creek is running, the turkeys are gobbling, and there are a lot of fun things to do before the heat of the summer is here."

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game manages the 814-acre Big Cottonwood WMA for fish and wildlife conservation.

The area is home to hundreds of animals, including California bighorn sheep, mule deer, upland game birds, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, wild turkeys, bobcats; over 100 species of birds are documented in the area.

"Big Cottonwood offers several different types of habitat that support a wide variety of wildlife," said Todd. "It also offers visitors spectacular views, nice trails, and several places to go and enjoy a variety of springtime activities."

Hiking, biking, and horse back riding

Hiking, biking, and horse back riding are some of the most common visitor activities during the spring and summer months. There is only 1 _ miles of maintained trail on the WMA, which is closed to motorized vehicle traffic, but this leads to many miles of trails within Big Cottonwood Canyon.

For the more adventuresome, off trail hiking can take them to the high canyon cliffs lining the WMA property or allow them to wander the riparian area in the canyon floor.

Long pants and sturdy shoes are recommended for any off trail hiking. In the heat of the summer, visitors are reminded to keep a close watch for western rattlesnakes. Remember, if you leave them alone they will leave you alone.

Fishing

Idaho Fish and Game fur sale scheduled

JEROME - The annual Idaho Department of Fish and Game Fur Auction will be held Saturday May 7, at the Magic Valley Regional Office at 868 East Main in Jerome.

The auction items will include elk, deer, and moose antler and skins; bear, mountain lion, bobcats, otters and several other animal skins and carcasses.

The sale begins at 10 a.m., with a viewing of the auction items at 9 a.m. People unable to attend the auction in person can view the items and participate in the biding via the internet by logging onto www.jmaauctions.com

People wishing to place a bid on any of the items pictured, need to submit their maximum bid and the item number before 6 p.m. on May 6. Online bidders will be notified within one day of the sale (Sunday May 8, via email) and must have a check covering their winning bid sent immediately after they are notified. Buyers must also arrange shipping or pick up the items they purchase.

For more information on the auction, call Gary Hompland at 324-4359.

Ask Fish and Game

Q: I noticed that the new big game regulations include new fees for licenses and tags, but at the top it says "previous fees in effect until July 1". Does this mean I'll save money if I buy my license before then?

A: You will save money if you buy any Fish and Game license or tag prior to July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Be aware that the new rules brochure lists the increased prices that go into effect on July 1. So if you're purchasing a license by mail before July 1, be sure to send a check for the current price. For a list of the current prices check the internet at:

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/licenses/fees/

Salmon Regional Office Dedicated

The new regional Fish and Game office in Salmon was dedicated last week, appropriately enough on Earth Day. Nearly one hundred local residents, Fish and Game staff, and members of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation gathered on a sunny afternoon to dedicate the new building.

The festivities began early in the afternoon with an open house. Fish and Game staff gave tours to local residents who stopped by to see the new facility. Residents familiar with the cramped, dilapidated conditions of the old building were impressed with the spaciousness of the new building. In addition, visitors enjoyed the new foyer and its attractive displays of mounted fish and big game animals. Formerly, many of these mounts could not be displayed due to limited space in the old office.

Steve Barton, Treasurer of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation opened the official dedication and provided background information regarding the Foundation's role in making the new Salmon office a reality. "Part of the mission of the Foundation is to help Fish and Game with projects the agency cannot undertake on its own. We took advantage of low-interest rates to finance not only this office but also new office buildings in Lewiston and Jerome." Salmon region Fish and Game Commissioner Gary Power and Fish and Game Deputy Director, Terry Mansfield both thanked the Foundation on behalf of the Fish and Game Commission and the Director's Office. Both men echoed Barton's comments on the building of the new office as being a "win-win situation" and "a good business decision" for both the Foundation and the Department.

Idaho Fish and Game Seeks Angler Comments for 2006-2007 Fishing Regulations

LEWISTON - Idaho Department of Fish and Game fisheries management staff will host a series of open house meetings to gather input and comments related to potential rule changes for the 2006-2007 general fishing regulations.

All open house meetings will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. local time at the following:

- Riggins, May 10, Salmon Rapids Lodge

- Grangeville, May 11, Oscar's Restaurant

- Orofino, May 12, Ponderosa restaurant

- Moscow, May 16, University Inn

- Lewiston, May 17, Helm Restaurant

If anyone would like to comment but can not attend a meeting, they can contact regional fishery personnel at 799-5010 or send their information in writing to Fishing Rules, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1540 Warner Avenue, Lewiston, ID., 83501.

Fisheries Managers Seek Input

Fisheries managers with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game want your opinion about proposals for the 2006-2007 fishing rules.

Fish and Game is proposing three statewide rule changes.

The first would allow anglers with a second pole validation to have up to 10 lines when ice fishing. The second would remove limits on walleye and northern pike except where Fish and Game actively manages these species.

"The motivation behind this change is the increased level of illegal transplants of these two species in recent years," said Fisheries Manager Dale Allen.

The third statewide proposal would change the rules for fishing tournaments to allow for the harvest of wild trout under certain circumstances. For example, Fish and Game could allow tournament harvest of rainbow trout in cutthroat waters such as the South Fork of the Snake River. The rule change would also allow for the tournament harvest of brook trout.

For more information on these proposals and region-by-region proposals, anglers are encouraged to attend one of numerous meetings being held statewide in May:

- Panhandle Region-To Be Announced

- Clearwater Region-Open House Meetings 7pm to 9pm

- May 10-Riggins at the Salmon Rapids Lodge

- May 11-Grangeville at Oscar's Restaurant

- May 12-Orofino at the Ponderosa restaurant

- May 16-Moscow at the University Inn

- May 17-Lewiston at the Helm Restaurant

- Southwest Region-Open House Meetings May 4, from 9am to 8pm

- Nampa and McCall regional offices

- Magic Valley Region-To Be Announced

- Southeast Region-Public Scoping Meetings 7pm to 9pm

- May 3-Preston fire station

- May 4-Malad High School

- May 5-ISU Student Union

- May 10-Mountain View Middle School, Blackfoot

- May 11-Oregon Trail Center, Montpelier

- May 12-Soda Springs Senior Citizen Center

- Upper Snake River Region-Open House Meeting

Salmon Counts Picking Up

Fishery Managers with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are cautiously optimistic about an increase in the number of Chinook salmon moving up the Columbia River.

On Sunday April 24, more than 3,500 Chinook passed Bonneville, bringing the total count to nearly 12,000.

"That's the kind of daily count we would expect to see this time of year," said Anadramous Fisheries Manager Sharon Kiefer "We hope to see more days like that this week."

Last week, managers in Washington and Oregon responded to unusually low early season returns by closing fisheries on the Mainstem Columbia River. They will meet again on Wednesday April 27 to discuss whether to downsize run estimates for Chinook runs in the Columbia.

Idaho Fisheries managers are receiving information from PIT tags in some Snake River Chinook at Bonneville, but so far only eleven salmon have passed Lower Granite Dam, the final dam they must pass on the way to Idaho. Fish and Game will continue to analyze data and will keep the public informed about Idaho's Chinook salmon season through media outlets and on the internet.

Salmon Regional Office Dedicated

Visitors to the Salmon Region office find a new building replacing the old facility at the same address in Salmon.

The new facility was dedicated April 22 with about 100 residents and officials from the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation as well as Fish and Game on hand.

Steve Barton, Treasurer of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, explained the Foundation's role in making the new Salmon office a reality. "Part of the mission of the Foundation is to help Fish and Game with projects the agency cannot undertake on its own. We took advantage of low-interest rates to finance not only this office but also new office buildings in Lewiston and Jerome." Salmon region Fish and Game Commissioner Gary Power and Fish and Game Deputy Director Terry Mansfield both thanked the Foundation on behalf of the Fish and Game Commission and the Director's Office. Both men echoed Barton's comments on the building of the new office as being a "win-win situation" and "a good business decision" for both the Foundation and the Department.

Foundation Board Member Hadley Roberts provided historical perspective on the old building as he outlined his work with Fish and Game biologists during his tenure as a wildlife biologist on the Salmon National Forest. Roberts recalled the cramped conditions in the old building, chuckling over the conversion of a men's restroom to office space a number of years ago. Roberts also expressed his pleasure as a Foundation Board member "to be able to give something back to the agency with which I had such a good working relationship for so many years."

Salmon Regional Supervisor Jim Lukens took the podium to express his thanks to the Foundation as well as his staff for weathering their cramped quarters for as long as they did. "Morale is definitely up around here." Lukens noted.

Idfg Hosts Open House For Comments On 2005 Sandhill Crane, Dove & Early Goose Seasons

IDAHO FALLS - As part of developing seasons for hunting sandhill cranes, doves and goose next fall the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) will be holding a daylong open house at their regional office located at 4279 Commerce Circle in Idaho. The open house will take place from 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, May 4th.

Because sandhill cranes are a migratory species, harvest totals are based on allocations set by the multi-agency flyway committee. Idaho's harvest allocation for 2005 is 168 birds. IDFG is recommending issuing 440 permits, a 40% increase from last year's number of 261. This increase is because of a recommendation by the flyway committee to stimulate harvest in anticipation of increased crane populations and to offset lower success rates last year. The season will still have a daily bag limit to two birds and a season limit of nine. While these numbers might sound dramatic, hunters only harvested 142 birds statewide last year. Under the current plan hunters would obtain their first tag via the standard drawing method and would then be able to purchase an additional eight tags from any vendor as leftover tags. This year the cost for each crane permit and tag is $27.50, plus an application fee of $6.25.

No changes are being recommended for dove season. The season would run from 9/1 - 9/30. The daily possession would be 10 birds with a possession limit of 20. No early goose seasons are being recommended in the region for next fall. All of the available days allowed by the flyway committee will be incorporated into the late season. The actual regular goose season will be set by the Idaho Fish & Game Commission as part of their August conference call.

Madison County Magistrate Named Judge Of The Year

REXBURG - At their recent annual banquet in Boise, the Idaho Wildlife Federation along with the Idaho Conservation Officers Association, named Madison County Magistrate Mark S. Rammell as Judge of the Year.

The award was jointly presented to Judge Rammell by Federation President Kent Marlor of Rexburg and Idaho Conservation Officers Association Commissioner Lew Huddleston of the Upper Snake Region. While presenting the award, Marlor referenced Rammell's "ability to fairly and justly apply justice in cases of Fish and Game rule violations."

Not just the sportsmen's' groups deeply appreciate Rammell, the conservation officers in the field that investigate the violations that result in individuals visiting Judge Rammell's court also say he's been very supportive. Senior Conservation Officer Lew Huddleston wrote in his nomination of Rammell, "His ability to recognize what level of deterrence is needed for the individual standing in his court. That level of deterrence may involve imposing minimum fines, maximum fines with additional license revocations or court imposed jail time." According to Huddleston, Rammell always backs up his words with action. "Judge Rammell will advise defendants that if they plead guilty to the charge against them they will do jail time. True to his word those defendants generally spend time in jail."

Aside from knowing the law and enforcing it wisely, Rammell has a personal interest in protecting the wildlife resources of Idaho. According to both Marlor and Huddleston, "Rammell is an avid sportsman; especially enjoying fly fishing." This intimate knowledge of hunting and fishing helps him to be able tell when a fish story smells or when a person made an honest mistake.

Salmon Counts at Record Lows

Biologists up and down the Columbia River are shaking their heads over the behavior of this year's upriver Chinook salmon run, including Snake River spring and summer Chinook.

Based on the 10 year average, about 28 percent of the run should have passed Bonneville Dam by now, but the run total through April 18 was just 1,545 adults. If that truly represented 28 percent of the run, the total number of salmon crossing Bonneville would only be a few more than 5,500.

"We have many indicators including last year's jack return and downriver catch that show that the run crossing Bonneville Dam will be larger than 5,500 adults," said Sharon Kiefer, Anadromous Fishery Manager for Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "So, we know it is a late run but it is still difficult to know just how late or how large the run will be."

Fishery managers say the run has been dramatically late more than once. For example, in 1996 only nine percent of the run had passed Bonneville Dam by April 18. Still, the number of Chinook passing Bonneville as of this date is the lowest on record since 1970.

In addition to the unusual run timing, biologists are struggling with updating the preseason forecast, which was more than 200,000 adults. Fishery managers throughout the Columbia basin agree that the run size over Bonneville Dam will be substantially lower than forecast, for the second year in a row. Last year Chinook numbers were substantially adjusted downward from the preseason forecast as the run progressed.

While fishery managers in Oregon and Washington are closing some Columbia River salmon seasons until further notice, Idaho managers are waiting for more data that will provide specific information about Idaho salmon.