Press Release

December 2005

Commission Meets in Boise January 11-13

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in Boise January 11-13 to adopt rules for big game, hear an update on a bonus point system for controlled hunt drawings and consider a proposed wolf management project in the Clearwater Region.

The commissioners will begin the January 11 session with a wolf management workshop beginning at 8:20 a.m. followed by a workshop on department lands at 10 a.m. They are also scheduled to meet with the Idaho Senate and House resource committees at 1:30 p.m. in the Gold Room. All Commission business except for the meeting with the House committee will be conducted in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game headquarters, 600 South Walnut in Boise. A public hearing is set for 7 p.m.

On January 12 the commissioners, starting about 9:40 a.m., will consider department recommendations on non-biological rules-those not related to seasons or limits-for deer, elk, antelope, bear and mountain lion. Around 11 a.m. they will hear updates on sage grouse management and the department's centerpiece Mule Deer Initiative. Commissioners will hear the results of a hunter survey on proposed bonus point plans as a way to favor unsuccessful applicants in subsequent years. They will also consider a proposal to control wolf numbers in part of the Clearwater Region where elk numbers are below department management goals.

Commissioners will review department programs on the morning of January 13 before attending the Senate confirmation hearing for newly appointed commission member Tony McDermott. The hearing is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Resource Committee room at the statehouse.

Don't Leave Home without Them

Just because some hunting and fishing seasons are still open it doesn't mean you don't need a new license.

Don't forget to pick up a 2006 hunting, fishing or combination license before heading out after the New Year. All licenses, permits, validations and tags expired December 31.

New licenses, tags and permits are available at Idaho Fish and Game offices and stores that sell hunting and fishing supplies.

A hunting license costs $12.75 for adults and $7.25 for children 17 and under. A fishing license is $25.75 for adults and $13.75 for children 14 through 17. A combination hunting and fishing license is $33.50 for adults, $11.75 for seniors, and $17.50 for juniors. A military furlough license is $17.50 and a license for disabled anglers is $5.00.

Licenses for disabled hunters and anglers are only available at Fish and Game offices and designated vendors.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. I recently heard about something called Family Fishing Waters. What does that mean? How do I find out where they are?

A. In response to anglers' requests for more family-oriented fishing opportunities and simplified rules, IDFG has developed the Family Fishing Waters program. The idea is to make it easy, simple and fun for folks to go fishing with the children, and to target waters where beginners have a great chance of catching their first fish. Many of these waters are at parks or areas with other facilities that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Family Fishing Waters are open all year and have a six fish limit for trout and bass. There are no bag limits on other species and no length limits. Family Fishing Waters also provide easy access, and area easily fished by anyone with simple, standard fishing gear. Check the Region maps in the new 2006-2007 Fishing Rules Book for Family Fishing Waters near you. The brochures soon will be available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices. Anglers aged 14 and older must have a fishing license in their possession.

Agencies to Radio-Collar Bighorn Sheep in Hells Canyon

LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to capture 70 bighorn sheep in eight Hells Canyon herds beginning January 2, 2006, as part of the ongoing Hells Canyon Initiative to restore bighorn sheep populations to the area.

The sheep will be captured by netgunning from a helicopter. Biologists will take health samples, radio-collar the sheep, and release them on site. This project is part of research to determine movements, survival, and productivity, and factors limiting population growth of resident bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon.

The operation is made possible through the cooperative efforts of Shikar-Safari, The Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Safari Club International, the state wildlife agencies, the U. S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland,

Regional Conservation Officer, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Question: I watched a group of mountain lion hunters last week keep a mountain lion in a tree for over four hours. It took that long for their friend who was called on a cellular phone to arrive and kill the mountain lion. Isn't that unlawful?

Answer: If the person that harvested the lion possessed a hunting license, hound hunting permit and mountain lion tag before he killed the mountain lion, what you observed is not a violation of any Idaho law.

This is an example of extremely poor judgment and unethical hunting behavior. This behavior is exactly what fuels the fires of the "anti-hunting" organizations. There is no sport in shooting an animal in a tree. This kind of act even turns the stomach of many dyed-in-the-wool hunters.

The "sport involves the hunt, not the kill." It is sporting to find a fresh lion track and utilize the scenting ability of dogs to chase and perhaps catch the lion. To harvest a lion after a good hunt is a reward for the hunter.

What reward is there for some Johnny-come-lately that shows up to kill a lion in a tree after the hunt has ended?

The use of electronics such as cellular phones and radios is also becoming a concern among many sportsmen. The law only prohibits radio communication from an aircraft to the ground. Ground-to-ground communications are still considered lawful. It is common for some groups to use radios to guide hunting companions into lethal shooting positions. Many of these activities would be impossible if it weren't for the radio "guide" informing the hunter of every move the animal makes.

Many sportsmen feel the use of any electronic devices violates the "Spirit of Fair Chase" as described by the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young clubs.

Changes Made in 2006-2007 Fish Rules

A few significant changes were made as final 2006-2007 Idaho fishing rules were adopted.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved department recommendations when it met in Jerome November 16-18. The changes are reflected in the new fishing brochure. The new rules will be available online at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish

on December 27, and will be available in print at vendors during the first week in January.

Spring steelhead fishing opens January 1. Spring season limits are three per day, nine in possession and 20 per season. A 2006 fishing license and a steelhead permit are required. Both are now available.

An earlier statewide proposal to drop fall steelhead limits to two per day, six in possession and 20 per season will, in the final rules, apply only from October 15 to December 31 on the Clearwater River open to steelhead fishing. All other steelhead waters will retain the three, nine and 20 limits. The alteration does not affect hatchery operations but is intended to relieve conflict between anglers on the Clearwater.

Steelhead fishing on the lower Salmon River was extended for an additional month in the spring. The season will be open from the mouth to Lake Creek Bridge, upstream from Riggins, until April 30. That area was previously closed on March 31.

Henrys Lake fishing season and fishing hours have been extended to allow anglers greater opportunity on this world- famous fishing lake. Daily fishing hours were deleted, so anglers won't have to leave the lake at 9 p.m. each evening, and the season was extended to the end of November from October 31 for those hardy folks who want to fish before winter really sets in.

In an effort to provide additional protection to the native cutthroat trout in the Bear and Teton Rivers, those streams now have catch-and-release rules for cutthroat trout.

Hunting Seasons

Many big game hunting seasons have ended, but there's still plenty of hunting open through the end of the month and through the winter.

Seasons are open for geese, ducks, coots and common snipe through January 20 in the northern and eastern parts of the state and through January 27 in the southwest. The season is closed on canvas backs.

In the uplands, the seasons remain open on pheasant, forest grouse and bobwhite and California quail through December 31. The pheasant season is closed in the eastern part of the state, and quail season remains open through January 31 in the western and northern parts of the state. The seasons on chukar and gray partridge remain open through January 15 or January 31 in some parts of the state.

Anyone so inclined can hunt crows through January 31.

As for rabbits, the season on cottontails is open through February 28 and on snowshoe hares through March 31. Jackrabbits are considered predators under Idaho law and hunting is unregulated.

Falconry is open through March 15 for upland species and January 31 for crows. The falconry season on migratory game birds is the same as the federal seasons.

Mountain lion seasons are open through the winter in much of the state. Mountain lion seasons are open through March 31 in all but units 1 - 9; 20A, 26, 27, 41 and 42.

A valid 2006 hunting license will be required on January 1. Licenses are available at vendors. Check IDFG regulations for exact seasons in your favorite hunting unit. Regulations, seasons and limits also are available on the agency's website at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Recovery Meeting

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host a public meeting from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, January 21, at the Sandpoint Community Center, 204 S. First Avenue, to discuss results from a deep-water trap net project, the status of the kokanee population and to gather comments on predator-prey management issues.

Deep-water trap netting showed an increase in lake trout numbers over the past two years. About 1,600 lake trout have been caught in 15,000 hours of effort compared to 1,100 lake trout in 31,000 hours in 2003?2004. The current population estimate for lake trout is about 10,700 fish over 20 inches, compared to 6,400 fish of that size in 2003?04.

During the summer of 2005, three widely recognized and experienced lake trout scientists from the Great Lakes and Canada were asked to interpret data from the Lake Pend Oreille system and provide a critical analysis of IDFG's research and management direction. Deep-set gill nets were recommended to reduce sampling bias and improve the population estimate. Research on lake trout and lake whitefish will resume in February and emphasis will shift to gill netting. Gill nets will be used to provide a better estimate of the entire lake trout population in Lake Pend Oreille.

The nets will be set overnight in 50 to 200 feet of water to target lake trout and lake whitefish. The nets will be about 900 feet long and 9 feet high. Three to nine nets will be used, and moved around the lake on different days. Up to 100 locations in the lake will be sampled from February through April. All salvageable lake trout and lake whitefish will be filleted and donated to area food banks.

New Regional Supervisor Picked In Upper Snake

Steve Schmidt, Upper Snake Region wildlife habitat manager, has been selected as the new regional supervisor, filling the position that has been empty since Robert J. Saban retired November 1 after 28 years with the agency.

Schmidt will assume his new duties January 1.

Ask Fish and Game

Q. There is an elk depredation hunt in an area close to me, how can I get in on it?

A. You had to apply for the depredation hunt list earlier in the year. If you are an Idaho resident with a valid hunting or combination license, you have to fill out the "Depredation Hunt Application" found in the Big Game Rules Brochure and mail it to the regional office in the area you are willing to hunt. You, and a partner if you like, may apply in different regions for deer, elk, and antelope. But you can apply only once each year for deer, once for elk and once for antelope. All applications received from May 1 to June 30 will be placed in random order. All applications received after June 30 will be placed at the end of the list in the order received. The list is valid from July 1 to the following June 30.

Idaho Fish and Game Begins Big Game Aerial Surveys

LEWISTON - As the harsh winter weather sets in, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) began aerial surveys of big game in management units 10, 12, 15 and 17 of the Clearwater Region in mid-December.

Besides usually finding big game animals congregated on lower elevation winter ranges, the winter months also bring two requirements needed to conduct accurate surveys - clear weather for good visibility and snow covering that aids in locating and identification of species.

The survey results will provide information from which management decisions will be based for determining future hunting seasons. The flights are scheduled to cover the same units at the same time every year to make the information gathered comparable from year to year. The goal is to compare population trends, and age and sex ratios. A helicopter flying low and slow over some of the most remote areas of the state is the most efficient tool for gathering big game herd information.

Saving A Deer

By Ed Bottum, Wildlife Biologist, IDFG - Southwest Region

The scene is repeated hundreds of times each year in Idaho and more than a million times across the country, especially during winter. Skid marks (sometimes), blood spots streaked across the highway - and fragments: pieces of colored glass, shiny plastic, logos, unidentifiable parts. Fragments of deer too - you will have to use your imagination for this as I don't wish to describe it here. Seeing it is enough; enough to make one's heart sick. Another "road kill," another "deer hit" - euphemisms we use to disguise the horror of death by vehicle.

It is a scene that stands to be repeated more than 200 times this winter along Warm Springs Road and Highway 21 if history is any gauge. We, the people working for the agencies that manage deer and highways, have tried dozens of ways over the years to get the attention of the primary (some say only) cause of deer death by vehicle - the drivers. It is more difficult than you might think. Yes, there are deer crossing signs, sometimes with flashing lights, sometimes with bright orange flags flapping in the wind. Yet drivers nearly always seem surprised by a deer-vehicle collision - even though it really shouldn't come as such a surprise.

As the Treasure Valley's human population continues to grow, more and more people make their daily commute through, around and over the Boise Foothills. Vehicle traffic in the Foothills has steadily increased, with no end in sight. The number of deer struck down by vehicles has grown right along with this increase in vehicle traffic.