Press Release

November 2005

Idaho Hunters Buying Wild Game?

The idea that Idaho hunters are buying game animals to hunt is preposterous to most.

However, that is exactly what every resident and nonresident hunter in the state is doing. No, they are not going out to the auction or game farms and picking out the biggest or most prolific animals and releasing them into the wilds to hunt. What Idaho hunters are doing is annually financing the development and or improvement of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat across the state.

A small portion of every hunting license purchase in the state goes into the Habitat Improvement Program (HIP) fund. These funds are to be used to increase the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat on public and private land across the state. The main focus is given to upland game bird and waterfowl populations. However, some funds have been allocated to other specific efforts such as mule deer habitat in southeast Idaho.

The resulting increases in high quality habitat leads to larger and healthier wildlife populations. This provides more opportunity for sportsmen to enjoy our wildlife resources through increased harvest quotas, longer seasons, and more access.

In the Clearwater Region we use the majority of our HIP funds for upland game and waterfowl habitat improvements on private lands. This is because the majority of the upland game bird and waterfowl habitat exists on private land, such as on the Palouse. Private landowner participation in the HIP program has aided in the widespread improvement in landowner and sportsmen relations and hunting access. By participating in the HIP program landowners agree to not lease, sell, or completely close hunter access to the contracted project acres.

A Place for New Hunters

By Al Van Vooren, Regional Supervisor

Idaho Department of Fish and Game - Southwest Region

"We didn't know where to go."

That was one of the common reasons given when Fish and

Game surveyed young hunter education graduates who did not subsequently go hunting. If you or someone you know has faced the challenge of where to take a new hunter, Fish and Game wants to help. In the years since that survey was completed, a number of new hunting opportunities have been created making it easier than ever for budding new hunters to take to the field.

When selecting a location to go hunting- especially with a new hunter -it's important to find a place where the new hunter has minimal competition from veteran hunters. It's also a plus to be able to hunt game that hasn't been schooled for weeks learning to successfully evade people. For those reasons, special youth hunting seasons have been created for ducks, pheasants, and turkeys where hunters under 16 years of age (accompanied by a non-hunting, licensed adult) have their own weekend to hunt prior to the general opener for other hunters.

Another opportunity afforded youth, in an attempt to improve their odds of harvesting an animal, is an antlerless deer "season" especially for them. It's not a separate season set aside just for youngsters, but it allows youth the opportunity to harvest a deer of either sex in areas across the state (check out the 2005 Big Game Rule book for specifics).

Each year, Fish and Game staff across the state organize special hunting events to help youth get started right. Some staff even take youngsters out on mentored hunts. In Southwest Idaho alone, dozens of physically-challenged and/or young hunters in special situations have received one-on-one assistance bagging their first turkey, deer, pheasant, duck or quail.

Ask Fish and Game

Q: I have been seeing articles in the news media about Fish and Game planting sturgeon. Does that mean that I can now harvest a sturgeon?

A: No, the rules have not changed. It is still illegal to harvest sturgeon in Idaho. Sturgeon were planted this fall in the Snake River below American Falls Dam to provide additional catch and release opportunities for anglers. While this section of river may not have sufficient habitat for sturgeon to successfully reproduce, it does have sufficient river habitat for a limited number of sturgeon to grow and provide exciting fishing for years to come. Sturgeon were previously planted in this area in 1990, 1991, 1997 and 1998.

Sale of Nonresident Selway B Elk Tags Delayed

Nonresident elk hunters looking to purchase Selway B-tags will find a slight change in how licenses, tags and permits are sold starting December 1, 2005.

The new 2006 licenses, tags, and permits go on sale December 1 at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Time, except for the nonresident Selway B elk tags which go on sale at 10 a.m. Mountain Time (9:01 a.m. Pacific Time) on December 1, 2005.

The sale of nonresident Selway B elk tags is being delayed because last year the tags sold out before many license vendors and Idaho Fish and Game offices opened for business. By delaying the sale timing, hunters will now have an equal opportunity to purchase these tags.

Hunters can purchase licenses, permits and tags at any IDFG office, license vendor, or by credit card by calling 1-800-554-8685, 1-800-824-3729, or on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Resident hunters who purchase deer and elk tags will be issued receipts that can be redeemed for tags after the big game controlled hunt drawing is held in July 2006.

Hunters can find more information on the sale and purchase of tags for both resident and nonresident hunters by reviewing pages 8-11 of the 2005 Idaho Big Game Season rules brochure.

Commission Approves Fishing Rules

New rules for fishing in Idaho were approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission November 17.

The Commission was meeting in Jerome when they approved staff recommendations for the new 2006-2007 fishing rules. The new rules booklet will appear in Fish and Game offices and at license vendors in late December.

The new rules have been out for public comment for several months.

Commission Elects Chairman, Seats New Member

Meeting in Jerome November 16-18, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission elected Cameron Wheeler chairman through 2006.

Wheeler, Ririe, is the commissioner from the Upper Snake Region. He is a former state legislator, a farmer and businessman. Wheeler is serving his first term on the Commission.

Dr. Wayne Wright, Twin Falls, was elected vice chairman. Dr. Wright is a retired physician.

Wheeler will take the gavel at the Commission's January meeting in Boise from 2005 chairman Marcus Gibbs.

The meeting in Jerome was the first for Tony McDermott of Sagle, recently appointed to replace Nancy Hadley as the commissioner from the Panhandle Region.

Nonresident Deer Tags Sold Out

All the deer tags in the nonresident quota have been sold for the current seasons.

Idaho deer tags for nonresidents have not sold out in any other year since the price was raised substantially in 1994. Nonresidents are limited to a total of 10,900 deer tags each year.

Resident deer hunters may still buy tags for this year. Most rifle seasons in the south are over but whitetail hunting, mostly in the north, continues.

Beginning with the current seasons, deer hunters are offered a choice of a general tag or a whitetail tag. The whitetail tag is good statewide and allows participation in popular late hunts in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions.

Hunters to Comment on Bonus Point Choices

Meeting November 16-18 in Jerome, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided to offer hunters another opportunity to pick among bonus point alternatives.

Bonus point systems are used in some states as one way to alleviate hunters' criticisms of purely random selection in controlled hunt drawings. Details of the points systems vary widely but are intended to weight the selection process so that applicants who have entered drawings multiple times without being drawn may have an increased chance of success.

The Commission has discussed establishing a points system for nearly a year and the department has conducted surveys of Idaho hunter opinion. Brad Compton, state big game research manager, presented results of the surveys and told the Commission that results were fairly evenly split. He summarized the results as a tendency to favor the idea of a points system but "not a lot of willingness to pay for it."

The costs of keeping drawing records on Idaho hunters and administering a bonus points system are estimated at about $6 per application, which would be charged in addition to the present $6.25 application fee.

Compton suggested the Commission consider a staff idea that entails automatically giving unsuccessful applicants two chances in the next drawing for the same species. The plan would affect deer, elk, antelope and moose hunts. Successful applicants would have to wait two years before applying again instead of the current one year, a move that would reduce the pool of applicants. This method would cost the department little and would result in no additional fee.

Compton also showed that the method used in Nevada hunt drawings sometimes works the way hunters expect but does not in other instances, especially in highly-prized hunts with small numbers of tags available. The Nevada "squares" the chances for unsuccessful applicants in each successive drawing.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. When can I buy a license for 2006?

A. The new 2006 licenses, tags, and permits go on sale December 1 at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Time, except for the nonresident Selway B elk tags which go on sale at 10 a.m. Mountain Time on December 1, 2005. Resident can purchase deer and elk receipts that can be redeemed for the tags in July of 2006.

Last Truck of Steelhead Heads for Boise

The third and, for this season, last fish transport truck with steelhead aboard is scheduled to arrive at the Boise River Thursday, November 17.

Idaho Fish and Game will have released about 1,000 adult steelhead from the Hells Canyon hatchery into the urban fishery this fall. The steelhead will go into the river at several locations from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park.

People who want a close view of these big anadromous fish can see several of them in the viewing window at the MK Nature Center at 600 South Walnut. There is no admission fee at the outdoor facility.

About 3,600 steelhead were trapped this fall at the Idaho Power-funded Hells Canyon fish trap, then transported to Oxbow Fish Hatchery. About 600 were kept for broodstock there and the rest were split between Idaho and Oregon anglers and a Nez Perce Tribe subsistence program. Steelhead still in the river will remain for the sport fishery below Hells Canyon Dam.

As part of the mitigation for stopping Idaho and Oregon steelhead runs above the Hells Canyon complex of power dams, Idaho Power Company pays for the operation of Oxbow Hatchery and the trapping of steelhead at Hells Canyon Dam.

Huffaker on Hand for Grizzly Delist Announcement

Idaho Fish and Game Director Steve Huffaker will be on hand Tuesday in Washington D.C. when U.S. Interior Secretary Gayle Norton announces the end to the Yellowstone grizzly's time on the endangered species list.

Huffaker is to attend the announcement and press conference in his capacity as chairman of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Grizzly bears in the area known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes part of Idaho in the Henrys Fork area, were one of the first animals to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act some 30 years ago. The bears have been under federal protection pending removal from the list.

With "delisting", Idaho will be responsible for management of Yellowstone grizzlies. The few grizzlies in north Idaho's Selkirk Mountains are not part of this population and will remain fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Huffaker said the move to delist Yellowstone grizzlies comes as "all criteria in the recovery plan have been met and exceeded." Idaho will manage the bears under a plan (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/plans/grizzly_plan.pdf) approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana and Wyoming plans have also been approved by the federal agency.

Yellowstone grizzlies will be classed by Fish and Game and Idaho law as a big game animal. Huffaker said there is, however, "no immediate plan to hunt grizzlies in Idaho. This is a small population."

The move does allow Idaho to deal with problem bears without seeking the approval of federal authorities.

Huffaker said the Washington D.C. event will allow a "celebration" of "enlightened policies" that led to successfully removing the bears from the endangered species list.

Hunters, Report Wolf Sightings

Hunters who see wolves can help Idaho Fish and Game with management of that species by simply reporting their sightings.

With tens of thousands of extra pairs of eyes in Idaho's wild lands this time of year, valuable information about the location, numbers and activities of wolves can be added to the scientific monitoring biologists do year round.

Sightings can be reported to Fish and Game personnel or by using the wolf report form in the fish/wildlife section on the department's web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. The web site form provides the most convenience for those who report as well as for biologists.

Idaho Fish and Game is expected to take more responsibility for wolf management soon under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Interior, the federal agency that administers the Endangered Species Act.

Wolves remain on the endangered species list.