Press Release

May 2005

Fish and Game Responds to Licensing Glitch

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will give hunters some extra time to apply for controlled hunts and Super Hunt.

The department is extending the deadline for applications to June 5 after the statewide computerized licensing system crashed on Friday.

The computers do not belong to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Fish and Game relies on a company called GTECH. That company has the contract to provide computerized licensing to the department through 2006.

Fish and Game experienced similar problems with the GTECH system toward the end of the controlled hunt application period last year. After last year's crash, GTECH told the department those problems were fixed and would not occur again. When the system started showing signs of problems early last week, GTECH continued to stand behind its system.

"Our contractor assured us these problems would not occur like they did last year" Licensing Supervisor Craig Wiedmeier said "Unfortunately, we had the same problems again this year."

The system failure not only caused problems for hunters trying to beat the deadline for controlled hunt applications. Anglers who were trying to get fishing licenses for the general season opener on Memorial Day weekend ended up standing in line as department employees scrambled to issue temporary licenses.

"We share the frustration of hunters, anglers and vendors who are dealing with this problem", Fish and Game Director Steve Huffaker said "We worked very hard to make sure this wouldn't happen again but it happened anyway. We're sorry, and we're doing our best to accommodate people who have had problems getting a license."

"If you're a vendor who can't sell a license, get the person's name and we'll make it right. If you're an angler who has tried but has been unable to get a license, go ahead and go fishing until the system is fixed and you can pick one up", Huffaker said.

Free Fishing Day Is June 11

Saturday, June 11 is Free Fishing Day in Idaho. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) invites novice anglers of all ages (residents and nonresidents alike) to celebrate the day by fishing any public waters in Idaho without a license. Although fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules remain in effect. These include such rules as bag and length limits or special fishing equipment regulations. Regulations brochures are available free at local sporting goods stores.

Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop a life-long pursuit. Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun and excitement at this annual celebration of Idaho's fishing heritage..

To help beginning anglers, the IDFG is sponsoring a number of fishing events throughout the state, including the Panhandle. Fish and Game personnel will be on hand to answer questions and help beginning anglers learn about terminal tackle, casting and fishing techniques, and fish identification. Some fishing tackle and bait will be available for persons who don't have their own gear.

Ten events have been scheduled in the Idaho Panhandle, convenient to most people in the region. While they are oriented toward beginning anglers, all anglers are welcomed to attend.

One early bird opportunity is scheduled in Coeur d'Alene at Ponderosa Springs Golf Course from 7-11 a.m. The owners have generously agreed to close the course for that period for sixteen straight years, so youngsters will have a chance to catch their first fish.

Message From The Director

Steve, Huffaker, Idaho Director of Fish and Game

I'm sorry. That's all I can say.

Many of you were greatly inconvenienced this weekend when you tried to buy a fishing license or put in for a controlled hunt. As you probably know, last week the licensing system was, to put it kindly, a mess. For a variety of reasons, some of which are not yet clear, the license system failed. Several times.

Throughout the week, folks standing in line at Fish and Game offices or sporting good shops faced delays as the system, seemingly at random, decided to work&and then not. As a result, many of you left frustrated. The lucky ones left with a license. The others left without a license and greatly frustrated.

Believe me, I share your frustration. Last year, we faced a similar problem with the licensing system. When that happened, I called the contractor and was assured that the problem would not occur again. The service provider assured me they had the problem fixed and that never again would hunters and anglers be left standing in line when the system failed. They were wrong. While I'm upset about it, my frustration is nothing compared to what you must feel.

Here in Idaho, hunting and fishing is part of our way of life. Holiday weekends are a chance to share our love of the outdoors with our family. Many planned to go fishing, but, because of the system failure, weren't able to get a fishing license. Hunters spent hours studying draw odds, success rates and calendars, planning their fall hunting trips. Unfortunately, all that planning&all that fun&can and was frustrated by a computer malfunction.

There is nothing I can do to give you back the precious hours you spent in line or fix the plans you had for the weekend. All I can do is say I'm sorry and, in some small way, try to make amends.

Sportsman's Breakfast Scheduled June 7 at Helm Restaurant

LEWISTON - - Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to June 7th Idaho Department of Fish and Game breakfast meeting to be held at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston beginning at 6:30 a.m.

The meeting will include reports the salmon season, upcoming free fishing day events, significant enforcement cases and upcoming projects planned for the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Deputy Director, Terry Mansfield will also attend and answer questions. Reports from sportsmen's club activities will round out the meeting.

The breakfasts are generally held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm restaurant in Lewiston. They are open to anyone and are designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The breakfasts run until 9:00 a.m., with coffee provided by Fish and Game.

Free Fishing Day Aims to Hook New Anglers

LEWISTON - - Saturday, June 11 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 special events will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon in the Clearwater Region to teach first time anglers the joys of fishing.

" Spring Valley Reservoir east of Troy, ID.

" Fenn Pond located five miles from Lowell on Forest Service Road 223.

" Wilkin's Pond located on the prairie west of Grangeville.

" Karolyn's Pond near Elk City.

" Fred Warren Pond in North Lewiston.

" Box Canyon Pond (also known as Long Gulch Pond) near Riggins.

" Deer Creek Reservoir near Headquarters, ID.

Single-parent families are encouraged to attend and all children must be accompanied by an adult. A limited number of rods and reels will be available for loan, but participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment. Experienced anglers will also be on hand to provide assistance.

Free Fishing Day is June 11

If you want to go fishing, but don't have a license, your chance is coming up.

Every year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game offers people a chance to try fishing without purchasing a license on Free Fishing Day. This year Free Fishing Day is Saturday June 11. For this one day only anyone can fish in Idaho. Although a license is not required, anglers must abide by the fishing rules that apply to the water they are fishing. Those rules can be found on the web at

Fish and Game partners with other sponsors in local communities throughout Idaho for special events on Free Fishing Day. For events in your area contact the regional office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in your region.

Boaters Warned About Zebra Mussels

As you head to the water this spring, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game asks that you keep an eye out for a small mollusk called the zebra mussel.

The warning is especially critical to those who are purchasing used boats from states east of the Rockies.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can take over a water way. They are already wreaking havoc with fisheries and impacting the economy in the Great Lakes states. So far, there has been no confirmation of live zebra mussels in Columbia River Basin waterways, but there have been some close calls in the West. A Montana newspaper article chronicled one such case that happened when a man from Gallatin County, Montana purchased a boat on the internet. He could not understand why he was getting such a good deal on the boat until he went to Michigan to pick it up. That is when he noticed it was covered with a crust of white shellfish that was later confirmed to be zebra mussels.

Even though the mussels that were visible were dead, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks official warned the boat owner to swab the deck along with every nook and cranny on the boat, especially the bilge area under the deck and live well plumbing. The mussels can survive in small amounts of water and can even live in an environment that is simply humid. If a boat with live zebra mussels makes it to a northwest water way, the result could be an infestation similar to the one in and around the Great Lakes.

Idaho and other western states are already dealing with another invasive creature called the New Zealand mudsnail. This tiny snail can choke out native aquatic life in some streams throughout the west. Like zebra mussels, mudsnails spread rapidly. Fish will eat them, but they provide no nutritional value and could literally cause fish to starve to death.

Kids Conservation Clinic set June 4

A National Guard youth and kids outdoor clinic is set to begin at 8 a.m. June 4 at the Atwood Ranch near Payette.

The event is open to families and youth ages six to 17 and includes a fishing clinic on stocked ponds, an archery range, 4-H pellet gun range for teaching basic firearms safety and shooting, the Sensory Safari trailer with hands-on wildlife exhibits and a shotgun range for older youths. Lunches and snacks are provided but parents are reminded to bring insect repellent, sunscreen and other comfort items.

The event is sponsored by the Treasure Valley Safari Club International with participating sponsors including the LeRoy Atwood Ranch, Fish and Game, Cascade extension agent, Grizzly Sports, Nampa Bow Chiefs and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The event will have a military appreciation day theme. Events conclude at 3 p.m.

The Atwood Ranch is located on Highway 52 just east of Payette. It is 12.6 miles from Exit 13 on Interstate 84 between Caldwell and Ontario. A Safari Club banner will mark the turn.

More information is available from Mark Bell at 208-442-6900 or LeRoy Atwood at 208-459-6348.

Sportsman Wins Big, Gives it Back

Every year, hundreds of Idaho hunters apply early for controlled hunt tags in hopes of winning one of two drawings for cash prizes. The prizes of $550 and $450 are offered by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation to encourage hunters to apply early.

This year's winner of the first drawing for $550 didn't buy a new rifle or book a guided hunting trip with his winnings. He gave it back. When IFWF executive director Gayle Valentine called Greg Champion to tell him he had won, he thought about the great hunting trip he could fund with his winnings. As he was talking to Gayle about the work IFWF does for Idaho wildlife he decided to split the pot with the foundation to help with some of that work. After he hung up the phone his generous spirit swelled.

"After I hung up I thought about my good fortune and all that Idaho has provided to me over the years and thought it would only be right to give it all back" Champion said.

Champion, who lives in Carefree, Arizona said he has been enjoying the outdoor opportunities available in Idaho for more than thirty years. He was in junior high school the first time he came to the Gem State, and plans to continue the tradition with or without the extra cash.

"I plan to bring both of my sons to Idaho in the next few years and hope that this gift will help to insure some great memories and a family tradition."

Commission Simplifies Rain Checks for Troops

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a new policy to allow Idahoans involved in military conflicts to get rain checks or refunds on fishing and hunting licenses and tags.

The new rules allow military personnel involved in any armed conflict to qualify for a refund or rain check on an Idaho tag and license. The previous allowance was specifically for the conflict in Iraq, and was specifically for the year 2004.

Ask Fish and Game

Q: I understand that salmon fishing is closed three days a week. Can I still catch and release salmon on those days?

A: No. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has changed the rules to allow salmon fishing on Friday through Monday only. Regardless of whether you keep any fish, anyone who is targeting salmon on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for the remainder of the season will be subject to enforcement action by a Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

Don't Wait to Apply for Hunts

Hunters who plan to apply for big game controlled hunts should not wait until the last day.

Tuesday, May 31, marks the end of the month-long application period.

The Idaho Fish and Game licensing division is advising hunters to apply as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of bogging down the computer licensing system and showing customer service.

If applicants wait until Tuesday, they as well as vendors and Fish and Game employees may be in for a long, frustrating day.