Press Release

September 2005

General any weapon mule deer season opens October 10

JEROME - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has moved the opening date for general deer seasons to October 10. This change was made to standardize season dates across southern Idaho and to provide hunters with the last week of October for hunting.

Closing dates will vary from October 16 to the 31st. In the Magic Valley Region, all open general season any-weapon hunts will close on October 31st. The only variation on the general-weapon antlered hunt in the Magic Valley Region is in hunting unit 56. Hunters may harvest any buck from October 10-16. From October 17-31, it is a two-point only season.

Be sure to check the hunting regulations for season dates, point rules, weapon and motorized vehicle restrictions for the big game unit you are hunting. It is the hunter's responsibility to know the rules.

For more information go to http:fishandgame.idaho.gov or call the Magic Valley Regional Office at 324-4359.

Youth pheasant hunt October 1, 2

JEROME - Youth hunters between the ages of 10 to 15 can have an early shot at a pheasant by participating in the youth pheasant hunt on October 1, 2.

The rules for the youth hunt are simple. The hunters must have a valid hunting license and be accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older while hunting. The season opens at noon on

October 1

The goal of the youth pheasant hunt is to give youths an opportunity to hunt pheasants before they are disturbed by hunters during the general season. It's a great opportunity to get them out hunting without the pressures surrounding the general opener. One adult may accompany more than one youth hunter.

To help the youth, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will release 50 pheasants at the Niagara Springs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) north of Buhl along the Snake River.

Bag limits remain the same as the general season. The daily limit is three cocks, and the possession limit after the first day is six. At WMAs where pheasants are stocked, the bag limits are two cocks and four after the first day.

Hunters opting to hunt on private land are reminded to ask first before hunting.

For more information on the youth pheasant hunt, call 324-4359.

Big game hunters can expect to see more bucks

JEROME - Hunters unable to draw or buy a controlled hunt tag this year will have a great opportunity to bag a buck in one of the several general season hunts opening

October 10.

"Deer populations in our general hunt units are healthy and growing and we are anticipating a good hunting season," said Randy Smith, Fish and Game Regional Wildlife Manager in the Magic Valley Region. "Over winter survival was excellent last winter which should translate into an ample supply of young bucks. Survival of adult bucks was also above average last winter and combined with excellent summer habitat conditions, should result in improved antler development and body condition."

Magic Valley hunters looking to put meat in the freezer should have good luck. Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist's aerial counts and fawn monitoring surveys show an 80 percent fawn survival across much of the region.

Youth hunters between the ages of 12-17 wanting to increase their odds of harvesting a deer this season can by tags for hunting units 43, 48 or 49. A general season any-weapon rule allows youth to harvest bucks or does in these units. Youths can also hunt bucks or does in several other units across the state.

While hunters are preparing themselves for hunting season, Idaho Fish and Game is also asking sportsmen to take along the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline number.

This year, live operators are manning the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline for more hours during hunting seasons.

Citizens who wish to report a violation of game laws can call, 1-800-632-5999. If no operator is on duty, citizens are asked to do the following:

- If violation is in progress, call the local sheriff's dispatch or ISP dispatch, which will then attempt to call a Fish and Game officer.

New Idaho Deer Tag Offers Hunters A Wide Variety Of Options

IDAHO FALLS - When it comes to managing wildlife, Idaho's wildlife biologists are faced by the same quandary as their counterparts elsewhere, "Opportunity versus Success?" While biology may drive the bottom line for the species, for the wildlife manager the trick is to find just the right balance between hunters' opportunity to harvest an animal and just how successful their efforts will be. Too much of one and wildlife populations can suffer along with overall hunter satisfaction; too little of the other can result in sportsmen feeling they are being denied the privilege to hunt what, how and when they want. IDFG's mission is to monitor the pulse of both sportsmen and wildlife and come up with a management strategy that provides the most for hunters while responsibly managing wildlife populations; the new deer tag plan is an example of such innovative thinking.

When IDFG spoke to hunters about how they felt the Department had been managing deer populations statewide they heard lots of varied opinions. One point that was fairly consistent was that people did not like to be locked into one area, such as the old Clearwater deer tag. Hunters said they like to be able to move around the state and even harvest different species of deer if the opportunity presents itself. Idaho is home not only to mule deer, but white-tailed deer as well. In many parts of the state these animals even share the same habitat!

In the new statewide deer management plan created by IDFG the goal was to create an incredibly flexible deer tag. According to Regional Wildlife Biologist Jeff Short of the Upper Snake Region, "The new tag choices are going to take a little time getting used to but it provides more general season opportunity to hunters than we had before and more opportunity to travel across the state to hunt deer."

Banner Summit Wolf Shooter Caught, Fined

A Boise man has paid a $2,500 fine for illegally shooting a gray wolf near Banner Summit earlier this summer. Terrance Hunter, 48, confessed to the crime after reading accounts of the incident in the newspaper.

Personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S Forest Service, and Idaho Fish and Game worked together to bring the case to a successful conclusion.

On June 21, two Idaho tourists were driving south on Highway 21 near Banner Summit when they rounded a corner and encountered a man standing in the middle of the road pointing a rifle in their direction. They watched the man shoot at a gray wolf standing in the roadway between their vehicle and the shooter. The witnesses immediately reported the incident to authorities, provided a detailed description of the shooter, his vehicle and the camper trailer he was towing.

The dead wolf was recovered the following day, just off of Highway 21 at the location described by witnesses. After an extensive search of the surrounding area, no vehicles were found matching the description provided by witnesses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a news release the following day asking the public for help in locating the individual involved in the shooting. Service law enforcement agents received a call from Hunter's attorney shortly afterwards and Hunter was later interviewed, admitting that he shot the wolf.

One item of note mentioned by Hunter during interviews with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents was that he claimed the animal he shot was a coyote. While coyotes are an unprotected species that can be taken at any time, wolves are a protected species. With wolves now found throughout the state, hunters can no longer assume that a dog-like animal encountered in the wild is a coyote and should be certain of their target before shooting.

High Tech Web-link Helps Hunters Plan Trips

Hunters preparing for the fall season have a new high-tech resource to help them plan a trip from start to finish.

Idaho Hunt Planner provides answers to questions from "Where can I hunt mule deer?" to "Where are the boundaries of Unit 36B" to "How much will a two-bed motel room in Riggins cost me?"

System features include Hunt Finder, which allows you to get information about specific hunts without sorting through multiple pages in the rules brochure. It also features Map Center which allows you to zoom in on any point in Idaho and check everything from topography to land ownership. It even allows you to make your own maps.

According to Bart Butterfield, who oversees the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, while the printed brochure is still the official rules document, the Idaho Hunt Planner goes further by allowing hunters to quickly answer questions about hunt unit boundaries, controlled hunt boundaries, seasons for hunts in specific areas of the state, and a seemingly infinite number of other questions.

"It allows you to determine what seasons are available in the area you want to hunt. For example, if you want to hunt elk in Unit 24 during October, Idaho Hunt Planner will list the seasons that are open at that time" Butterfield said.

Hunters can quickly access that information without sifting through page after page in printed hunt brochures. "We can never put a rules brochure together that would be able to do all of these things."

Idaho Hunt Planner also lets you find the odds of drawing a particular controlled hunt, hunter success from previous year's harvest reports, and search Idaho's Access Yes! program.

Fish and Game managers believe the system will allow people to plan a hunting trip in Idaho from start to finish with fewer calls to Fish and Game offices with questions about their specific hunt.

Poacher Loses Hunting Privileges for Life

A Washington poacher has lost his right to hunt in Idaho, and potentially eighteen other states forever, and will have to pay nearly $30,000.

Christian Witt, 32, of Battleground, Washington was sentenced in District Court in Nezperce, Idaho on September 14. It was the culmination of an 18 month investigation that involved wildlife officers from Idaho, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Witt was charged with felony conspiracy and twelve misdemeanor wildlife charges. Through a plea agreement, Witt received a withheld judgment on the felony conspiracy and five misdemeanors.

Witt received a lifetime revocation of his hunting privileges. His fines, civil penalties and restitution to Idaho totaled $29,150. He was placed on five year supervised probation. His father, Billy Jack Witt, 58, was sentenced in July, 2005. He received a five year hunting license revocation, with fines and civil penalties that totaled $9,750.

Six other defendants involved in the case have been sentenced in Idaho. They were Bradley Zenner, 46, of Nezperce, Idaho; Scott LeMaster, 32, of Vancouver, Washington; Scott Fritcher, 46, of Oregon City, Oregon; Warren Dunn, 56, of Yacolt, Washington; Brian Shepherd, 31, of Terrebonne, Oregon and Terrence Wallingford, 35, of Vancouver, Washington. All received hunting license revocations from 1 to 3 years.

"The cooperation between all the wildlife agencies involved was outstanding," Assistant Enforcement Chief Clay Cummins said. "Without the assistance, expertise, and persistence of all the investigators involved, this investigation would not have been nearly as successful. We realize some of these poachers are very mobile, and it is to our advantage to share information and resources to help protect the wildlife resource of all our states and provinces."

Adult Sockeye Salmon Released to Redfish Lake

On September 7, 2005 program managers for the Redfish Lake Sockeye Salmon Captive Broodstock Program completed one of their annual fish reintroduction activities. Workers released 173 sockeye into Redfish Lake to spawn naturally. Adult release is one of five strategies used to return fish to the wild.

All adults released on September 7 were reared by NOAA Fisheries in Manchester, Washington. The 173 adults released represent maturing sockeye from brood years 2000, 2001, and 2002 (age-3 through age-5 fish). Six captive-reared sockeye received radio transmitters before release to allow research biologists to monitor spawning behavior.

Snake River sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka were listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1991. Conservation experts have described Snake River sockeye salmon as a prime example of a species on the threshold of extinction. In Idaho, the lakes of the upper Salmon River represent the only potential habitat for sockeye salmon.

Historically, five Sawtooth Valley lakes (Redfish, Alturas, Pettit, Stanley, and Yellow Belly) supported sockeye. By 1962, sockeye salmon were no longer returning to Stanley, Pettit, and Yellow Belly lakes. Currently, only Redfish Lake receives a remnant run of sockeye returning from the Pacific Ocean; between 1990 to 1998, only 16 wild adults returned to Redfish Lake.

Snake River sockeye salmon travel the longest distance (900 miles one way) and to the highest elevation (almost 7,000 ft) of any population of sockeye salmon in the world. In addition, they are the most southerly population of sockeye salmon in the world.

Ask Fish and Game

Q: Is it legal to hunt big game with a crossbow in Idaho?

A: Yes, but with restrictions and only in certain hunts. You may NOT use a crossbow in an archery only hunt (unless you have a disabled archer permit). The rules do allow the use of a crossbow in an "any weapon" hunt or a short range weapon hunt. In hunts where crossbows are allowed you must adhere to the archery equipment restrictions that apply to archery hunting. You must also use a crossbow that provides at least 150 lbs of draw weight.

Special Youth Pheasant Hunt & Clinic Set For First Weekend Of October

ROBERTS - Young people today need all the help they can get to be exposed to the wonderful world of hunting. The days of coming home from school, grabbing a shotgun and heading out the backdoor to shoot a few pheasants is long gone. Neither kids nor parents seem to have the time anymore, no matter how many labor saving devices have been created for us. In addition to providing a special hunting opportunity, IDFG is also hosting a clinic to help young hunters brush up on their shooting skills, safe gun handling and knowledge of pheasants.

While the special youth only hunts apply statewide, youth are likely to have the best success at IDFG operated wildlife management areas (WMA), where pen-raised pheasants have been purchased from private game farms for release. In the Upper Snake Region, 50 birds have been ordered for release at Market Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Roberts, Idaho. More birds will be released when the general season starts.

The clinic being planned for Saturday, October 1 at the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is being offered on a first come basis. Young people interested in taking part need to call the Idaho Falls IDFG Office at 525-7290 and reserve a space. IDFG will be providing shotgun shells and clay pigeons for youth to hone their shooting skills, but hunters will need to provide their own shotguns. The events are free, but youth must still have valid hunting licenses.

Because regulations specify that the hunt cannot start until noon on Saturday, October 1 in the Upper Snake Region, IDFG will have staff available from 9 AM to noon for the clinic and the kids will also have the chance to help release the farm raised pheasants for the hunt.

Utah Hunter Wastes Elk

In September 2005, while on a routine inspection of a local meat storage facility, Fish and Game officers discovered the cape and antlers of a 6x6 bull elk and 66 pounds of elk meat. Realizing that this was far short of the nearly 250 pounds of boned meat harvestable from such a large animal, officers attempted to locate the hunter. After an unsuccessful search, officers seized the antlers, cape and meat from the facility.

Several days later, a Utah hunter contacted officers and gave them a brief description of the area where he killed the elk. The hunter also stated that he had taken all of the meat from the animal that he thought he needed to take. Immediately following this conversation, two officers traveled to the area in which the hunter stated he killed the elk. After a short search, officers were able to locate the remains of the bull elk. Laying in the snow only two miles from the trailhead lay the remains of a mature bull elk. The elk had not been field dressed and was only partially skinned. The only meat that had been harvested from the animal were 10 small chunks of meat from the back straps and rear quarters of the animal. Approximately 184 pounds of prime elk meat had been left to waste. During the course of this investigation, officers discovered that the hunter spent two additional days in the same area where he killed the elk, but he made no attempt to retrieve any additional meat. This was truly a blatant case of "waste of game" which is a misdemeanor under Idaho Code 36-1202.

For some, grouse are "fool hens," slow, seemingly tame birds that amble about the forest allowing you to practically pick them up. For others, they are the birds that just about give you heart failure when one bursts unexpectedly out from under your feet. But for some few folks, grouse are a game bird worthy of pursuit when forest grouse season opens at the beginning of September.

The term "forest" grouse includes three different species of grouse found throughout Idaho including the Salmon region. This group is made up of the blue grouse, ruffed grouse, and spruce grouse. All are fairly solitary birds except during the summer when family groups of hens and chicks are seen together. Like their much larger cousin, the sage grouse, the males of these species use mating displays to attract females.

Of the three species, the blue grouse is the largest, weighing around 2.5 pounds. The plumage is uniformly grayish to gray-brown with little contrasting colors. Blue grouse are scattered widely throughout the region where they prefer dry forest habitats with open clearings. This species is a "reverse" elevational migrant, moving to higher open, wind-blown elevations in the winter to avoid deep snows. One additional interesting fact about blue grouse is that the "hooting" of the males during the breeding season is one of the lowest frequency sounds produced by any bird in the world.

The smaller ruffed grouse is a bird of damp habitats preferring heavy cover near streams and other riparian areas. This species has a distinctive crest on its head and the plumage is grayish to reddish brown with bold barring on the flanks. During the breeding season, ruffed grouse males stand on a log, beating their wings to produce a drumming sound that is often felt rather than heard.