Press Release

January 2006

Craig Mountain Open to Snowmobilers

LEWISTON - With the recent snow prompting big game to lower elevations, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) reminds winter recreationists that the access gates on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area will be open beginning February 4, 2006.

The access gates remained closed past the opening date of November 26 because of the lack of snow. This date was selected in cooperation with local snowmobile groups and hunters to allow snowmobile use of the area after hunting seasons have closed, and big game animals have moved to lower elevations. The gates are designed to enhance wildlife security by preventing unauthorized motorized use of the area, not to restrict snowmobile use.

Snowmobilers are urged to use caution in avoiding hidden obstacles such as rocks, stumps and other hazards. IDFG will close the gates March 16, 2006 or if the snow depth decreases below 16 inches.

The Lewis and Clark Snowdrifters annually groom and remove obstacles on almost 200 miles of trails on Craig Mountain and surrounding area to enhance access and improve safety. The club will be having a fun run this Saturday, February 4th, and will begin grooming trail on Friday.

Please contact the Clearwater Regional office at 799-5010 if you have questions concerning snowmobiling on Craig Mountain.

Fish and Game Continues Big Game Aerial Surveys

LEWISTON - As the harsh winter weather continues, so does aerial surveys of the state's big game populations.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) began surveying big game herds in December, but because flying is limited to calm, clear weather, this winter's aerial surveys have been delayed. IDFG plans to continue surveying big game populations in management units 10, 12, 15 and 17 of the Clearwater Region starting this week.

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 aid 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.

Wolf Control Proposal Released

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released a proposal to reduce the wolf population by up to 43 wolves or about 75 percent in the Lolo elk management zone of the Clearwater Region.

Fish and Game biologists say wolf predation is a significant contributor to the decline of elk numbers in the Lolo zone and may be preventing population recovery. The proposal is made under the revised 10(j) rule of the Endangered Species Act, which took effect in February 2005 and allows removal of wolves having an unacceptable effect on elk and deer populations. The proposal must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The proposal entitled "Effects of Wolf Predation on North Central Idaho Elk Populations" is available for public review on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Fish and Game is seeking public comments on the proposal. Anyone interested may send comments from the Department website or by mail to: IDFG Wolf Comments, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Fish and Game also plans two public meetings from 5 to 9 p.m. on February 2 at the Double Tree Riverside Motel, 2900 Chinden Blvd. Garden City, and on February 7 at the Fish and Game Regional Office, 3316 16th St., Lewiston. Anyone interested may sign up to speak at the meeting. Individuals and groups will each have three minutes to speak. Elected officials or their representatives will be allowed to testify when they arrive. A hearing officer and court reporter will receive comments for the record.

The public comment period runs until midnight February 17.

Once public comments have been reviewed and incorporated, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, during its next meeting the first week of March, will decide whether the proposal should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review.

Fish and Game News Available

The Idaho Fish and Game News tabloid publication is available at license vendors and department offices statewide.

The current 12-page publication offers a variety of articles on Idaho Fish and Game activities including the Mule Deer Initiative, wolf management, bighorn sheep hunting, and volunteer work. The Fish and Game News is provided free of charge to the public.

Time to Apply For Turkey, Bear Tags

Sportsmen have until the middle of next month to apply for this spring's controlled turkey and bear hunts. The application period ends February 15.

Cost of the application is $6.25, and sportsmen wishing to apply must have a 2006 hunting license.

This year, turkey hunters will have a better chance of drawing one of the permits in Unit 54. Turkey numbers have been increasing over the past several years in the South Hills so biologists have increased the permit numbers to 50 from the 36 permits offered in 2005.

Youth hunters, 10- to 15-years-old, will be issued 18 permits with the remaining 32 being offered to other applicants.

Sportsmen can apply at any license vendor in the state. For more information, call 324-4359.

State Health Officials Warn of Mercury in American Falls Reservoir Fish

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has issued a consumption advisory for fish caught in the American Falls Reservoir because of the mercury levels found in recent samples.

The department warns pregnant women and young children about eating too much of certain types of fish from the reservoir. The fish consumption advisory is not meant to convince anyone to stop fishing, nor should people give up eating fish. The advisory is meant to inform people about mercury levels so they can continue to enjoy fishing and eating fish while avoiding the risks of exposure to dangerous levels of mercury.

"At this level, women and young children shouldn't be eating fish everyday," said Fred Partridge, Idaho Fish and Game fishery program coordinator and member of the state's Fish Consumption Advisory Committee. "If it's once or twice a month, it's not a problem."

The levels of mercury found in fish samples from American Falls Reservoir do not pose a health threat for the general public, but could affect fetuses or children under seven whose developing nervous systems are more susceptible to mercury poisoning.

Women who are breast feeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant should eat no more than three six-ounce meals per month of smallmouth bass and Utah sucker; six six-ounce meals per month of Utah chub; or eight six-ounce meals per month of trout.

Children under the age of seven should not eat more than one four-ounce meal per month of smallmouth bass and Utah sucker; two four-ounce meals per month of Utah chub; or four four-ounce meals per month of trout from American Falls.

Women and children who have eaten these limits shouldn't eat any additional fish, the Environmental Protection Agency warns.

Super Hunt Applications on Sale Now

It's not too early to apply for a chance at the hunt of a lifetime in this year's Super Hunt drawings.

Applications for the first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 with the drawing set for June 15. Applications will be drawn for eight elk, eight deer, and eight antelope hunts as well as one moose hunt. One "Super Hunt Combo" application will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, antelope and moose.

A second drawing will be held August 15 when another "Super Hunt Combo" and applications for two elk, two deer, and two antelope hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The application period for the second drawing is June 1 through August 10.

The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program. A single application is $6.25. Applications are available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, on the Internet at fishandgame.idaho.gov, and on the phone at 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685.

Mail applications to: IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

Funds from the drawings help pay for hunting and fishing access to and across private lands in Idaho.

Application Fees: 2006 2005 2004

1 "Super Hunt" $6.25 $4.95 $6.50

6 "Super Hunt" $24.95 $19.95 $26.50

13 "Super Hunt" $49.95 $49.95 $51.50

1 "Super Hunt Combo" $19.95 $19.95 $21.50

6 "Super Hunt Combo" $99.95 $99.95 $101.50

13 "Super Hunt Combo" $199.95 $199.95 $201.50

Crime Scene Investigation at MK Nature Center

The Morrison Knudson Nature Center plans a wildlife crime scene investigation program from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, February 11.

CSI: Wildlife is open to fifth through eighth graders.

Join the staff at the MK Nature Center for an opportunity to conduct a wildlife crime scene investigation. Put on your Idaho Department of Fish and Game Conservation Officer's Badge and pick out pieces of evidence at the crime scene. You will even be able to put on your lab coat to analyze the evidence and learn how to solve a wildlife case.

Call 334-2225 to register, space is limited. Admission is $15 and covers supplies.

Ask Fish & Game

Q. I forgot to turn in my harvest report, is it too late?

A. No, it's not too late. But hunters who don't submit their report won't be able to buy a license for this year until they do. The information is important. Fish and Game staff relies on hunter reports to help make hunting seasons recommendations in time for the Fish and Game Commission's March meeting, at which big game seasons and limits are set.

All deer, elk and antelope hunters must complete and submit a report for each tag issued within 10 days of harvest or within 10 days of the close of the season for which their tag was valid. Hunter reports can be submitted online at https://www.idaho-hunt.com/harvest_reports/idlogin.ASP, using the license number and the first four letters of the hunter's last name. Reports also may be mailed to: Fish and Game, Hunter Harvest Reports, P.O. Box 70007, Boise, ID 83707-0107. They can also be submitted by telephone at: 1-800-268-9365 or fax at: 775-423-0799.

Time to sign-up for Access Yes!

JEROME - Landowners interested in participating in the Access Yes! program are urged to signup soon. Last year in the Magic Valley Region the Idaho Fish and Game enrolled 131,960 acres in the program. This year they want to increase that number to 150,000 acres.

"It is a great program and it has been very successful with both landowners and sportsmen," said Steve Elam, Landowner/Sportsman Coordinator. "It gives the landowner a small monetary incentive to allow hunting on their private land, and sportsmen respect the private land."

Landowners that signup can specify conditions of access to meet their needs. It provides access to sportsmen to harvest wildlife that may cause depredation problems, and helps improve landowner/sportsmen relationships and hunter ethics.

The state's recreational liability statute shields participating landowners who allow recreational activities on their property without charge, or who have entered a cooperative lease agreement with the state.

Landowners interested in participating have until February 28 to complete their paperwork. To register, contact Steve Elam at 324-4359 or download the information at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/accessyesguide.aspx

Time to apply for turkey, bear tags

JEROME - Sportsmen have until the middle of next month to apply for this spring's controlled turkey and bear hunts. The application period began January 15 and ends February 15.

Cost of the application is $6.25 and sportsmen wishing to apply need to have a 2006 hunting license.

For turkey hunters in the Magic Valley Region, sportsmen will have a better chance of drawing one of the permits in Unit 54. Turkey numbers have been increasing over the past several years in the South Hills so biologists have increased the permit numbers to 50 from the 36 permits offered in 2005.

Youth hunters, 10- to 15-years-old, will be issued 18 permits, with the remaining 32 being offered to other applicants.

Sportsmen can apply at any license vendor in the state. For more information, call 324-4359.

Project WILD Workshop offered in Jerome

JEROME - A Project WILD workshop is scheduled for February 24, 25 at Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional office in Jerome. The class will go from 4-9 p.m. on the Feb. 24 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Feb. 25.

Project WILD is a wildlife-oriented, multi-disciplinary set of activities developed for educators, youth leaders or anyone working with the youth. The activities develop awareness, knowledge, and skills concerning the relationships between humans, wildlife and the natural world. Wildlife concepts are related to social studies, mathematics, language arts and other subjects and do not take time away from established curricula.

Each workshop actively involves participants in the learning activities and demonstrates techniques for integrating the supplementary materials into classrooms and informal learning settings. Cost for the 15-hour workshop is $20, and participants may opt to receive one hour of graduate or undergraduate credit for an additional fee of $50.

Young people are fascinated by the study of wildlife, opening windows of learning into all subject areas. Project WILD is used in 50 states and seven countries, and is based on the premise that young people and their teachers have a vital interest in learning about the earth as home for people and wildlife.

More than 70 percent of Idaho teachers currently incorporate Project WILD activities into their curriculum. To register, contact Lori Adams, Project WILD coordinator at ladams@idfg.idaho.gov or (208) 287-2889 or download a registration form at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/education/project_wild/