Press Release

January 2007

Wolf Report: Delisting Process Announced

Idaho wildlife managers are excited by the news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday, January 29, announced its proposal to remove the gray wolf in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from the endangered species list.

"We're in the process now of delisting the wolf," said Cal Groen, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "We're excited about that."

In a news conference Monday, Deputy Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall announced the proposed delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the delisting of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

About 12 years ago 66 gray wolves were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Today those wolves number more than 1,200, Scarlett said. More than 700 of them are in Idaho, she said.

"I look forward, as do all the states that have been involved in wolf recovery, to returning management of the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains to the states," Hall said.

The states are in a better position to manage delisted wolves, he said. And he is confident that states will be responsible managers. State wildlife agencies will continue to submit annual reports on wolf status in each state, Hall said.

"Wolves have made a comeback," Groen said during a news conference Monday afternoon. "It's a successful recovery story."

The Fish and Wildlife Service delisting proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days, including a series of public meetings and hearings. Fish and Wildlife will analyze the comments and expects to issue a final rule by the end of the year, Hall said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service plans a series of public hearings on the delisting proposal in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "The other day while hunting chukar partridge, my bird dogs momentarily cornered a bobcat in the rocks. By the time I got close to where the bobcat was, he had outsmarted the dogs and escaped. What rules apply and what permits are required to harvest the bobcat?"

Answer: Bobcats and mountain lions are frequently observed in chukar hunting areas. Bobcats are a furbearer species that can be lawfully taken by hunting as well as trapping. Mountain lions are classified as a big game animal and may only be harvested by hunting. As a big game animal, mountain lions taken with shotguns are restricted to 00 Buckshot or shotgun slugs; bird shot is not allowed.

Here are a few rules that would apply to taking either bobcats or mountain lions. First, the season must be open and overlap with the chukar hunting season. The current bobcat season runs from Dec 14, 2006 to February 16, 2007. The mountain lion season in our area runs from August 30, 2006 through March 31, 2007. Additionally, to take a mountain lion, hunters must first purchase a mountain lion tag before harvesting a lion.

All bobcats and mountain lions harvested must be taken to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional office so the mandatory harvest report can be completed and a metal tag attached to the hide. All bobcats must be reported and tagged within 10 days of the close of the bobcat season. Mountain lions must be reported within 10 days of the date of harvest.

F&G Director Cal Groen on IPTV's Dialogue

On this week's edition of Idaho Public Television's "Dialogue," host Marcia Franklin talks with Cal Groen, the newly appointed director of Idaho's Department of Fish and Game.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission chose Groen to replace former Director Steve Huffaker, who retired after leading the agency for nearly five years. Groen, a 17-year veteran of the agency, has held several prominent positions within the department.

He was most recently the supervisor of the Clearwater region, a post he held for nine years.

During the live call-in show at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1, Franklin and Director Groen will take calls from viewers on a toll-free line at 1-800-973-9800.

The program will repeat at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, February 4. No call-ins will be taken during the repeat show.

The program is also available on the radio. In southwest Idaho, it airs at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, February 4, on KBSU/NPR 91, and in eastern Idaho at 6:30 p.m. Monday, February 5, on KISU FM.

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. Tickets will be drawn for eight elk, eight deer, and eight antelope hunts as well as one moose hunt. One "Super Hunt Combo" ticket will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, antelope, and moose.

A second drawing will be August 15 when another "Super Hunt Combo" and tickets 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, which compensates willing landowners who provide fishing and hunting access to or across private lands in Idaho.

A single application is $6.25. Applications are available at license vendors, all Fish and Game offices, on the Internet at http://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.

Super Hunt Application Fees:

1 Super Hunt ticket - $6.25

6 Super Hunt tickets - $24.95

13 Super Hunt tickets - $49.95

1 Super Hunt Combo - $19.95

6 Super Hunt Combos - $99.95

13 Super Hunt Combos - $199.95

Upland Bird Seasons End

Wednesday is the last chance for upland bird hunting in Idaho.

Upland seasons end Wednesday, January 31, for chukar, gray partridge, and bobwhite and California quail.

The daily limit for chukar and gray partridge is eight chukar and eight gray partridge. Possession limit after first day is 16 chukar and 16 gray partridge.

The limit for bobwhite and California quail is 10 total. Possession limit after first day is 20 total.

Consult the rules brochures for details and exceptions.

Waterfowl seasons ended earlier in January.

Spring Turkey and Black Bear Hunts

The application period for spring turkey and spring black bear controlled hunts started Monday, January 15 and continues through February 15.

Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15-some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

A valid 2007 Idaho hunting license is required to apply.

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Plan Available for Review

Anyone interested in the management of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Idaho has 30 days to review and comment on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's management plan.

Yellowstone cutthroat trout are one of three types of cutthroat trout in Idaho, and, like their relatives the Bonneville and westslope cutthroat trout; they have declined in abundance across the state. Yellowstone cutthroat trout are found in drainages in south-central and eastern Idaho, including the South Fork Snake River, which supports an important sport fishery that generates more than $8 million annually for local economies.

A number of factors affect the health of Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations, including hybridization with non-native trout, water management and habitat degradation. The department's management plan describes actions that will increase the range and enhance the population health of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Idaho. The department plans to work with other agencies, private landowners, irrigators and fish conservation organizations to improve fish habitat.

The Yellowstone cutthroat trout management plan is available for review and comment at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/.

Public meetings or open houses to discuss the plan are planned at Fish and Game regional offices in Jerome, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. Comments will be accepted until February 28. Questions should be directed to Scott Grunder, native species coordinator, at 208-287-2774.

Idaho Fish and Game News Available

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

This issue looks at the pending removal of gray wolves from the federal endangered species list. It includes updates on the Mule Deer Initiative, the escape of domestic elk from an eastern Idaho shooter-bull operation, the cost of bait-bucket biology, and one man's unlikely story of back-to-back prize elk Super Hunts.

The current 12-page publication offers a variety of articles on Idaho Fish and Game activities across the state's seven regions. The Fish and Game News is provided free of charge to the public.

Ask Fish and Game - Ice Fishing

Q. With all this cold weather, I've been thinking about some ice fishing. But how do I know whether the ice is safe?

A. Ice fishing on reservoirs and lakes can turn those long winter days into great outdoor adventures. But always check the ice thickness and condition before venturing over deep water. Anglers need a minimum of 3 to 4 inches clear, solid ice to support their weight. But 8 to 10 inches are needed to support a snow machine or an ATV. Most lakes and reservoirs are open year round. When the weather is cold enough, ice on these waters can be safe and provide good fishing for yellow perch and trout and other fish. Consult the Idaho fishing rules brochure for seasons, limits and restrictions.

Fish and Game Schedules Project WILD Workshop

How would you like to be a "WILD teacher"?

A "WILD teacher" is one who has participated in a Project WILD workshop presented by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Participants become involved in learning about wildlife and wildlife management concepts, and discover fun and exciting ways to teach wildlife conservation in the classroom.

A Project WILD workshop is planned from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, February 23 at the Portneuf Library, 5210 Stewart in Chubbuck. The workshop continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 24.

Project WILD workshops are ideal for all types of educators-K through 12 teachers, 4-H leaders, scoutmasters, docents, interpreters for nature centers or zoos.

The registration fee for this workshop is $20. As an option, participants can attend the workshop for college credit at an additional cost of $50. An outside assignment will be required for those who are taking the workshop for credit.

Workshop participants will take home a variety of educational materials, including two activity guides that contain more than 150 activities related to wildlife and wildlife conservation. All activities from Project WILD have been correlated to the Idaho state education standards.

"Project WILD is a wonderful instrument Fish and Game uses to help educators and the students they teach to connect to the outdoors and to Idaho's wildlife resource," said Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator for the southeast region of Fish and Game. "If we can educate youth early on, they not only grow up with a love and appreciation for wildlife, they learn to be better stewards of the resource. And, that is not only good for the future of wildlife, it is good for Idaho."

To register for this workshop, contact Jackson in Pocatello at 208-232-4703 or register via Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Wolf Report: Planning for Wolf Hunts

If changes in state law, recommended by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, are enacted by the state Legislature, it would cost $26.50 for a tag to hunt wolves in Idaho once they are removed from the endangered species list.

The Commission will ask the Legislature to change state statutes to allow the commission to authorize wolf hunts, so if wolves are removed from the endangered species list the department would be prepared to set hunts and sell tags. The federal government has said it plans to initiate the delisting process this month. An actual hunting season on wolves could be months or years away depending on the outcome of that process.

Commissioners Thursday, January 25, approved recommended changes to three statutes that would authorize the commission to issue tags and set fees. The commissioners also agreed to ask for up to 10 special commissioners' wolf tags, and to set the price of a resident wolf tag at $26.50 and a nonresident tag at $256.

Hunters also must purchase an Idaho hunting license.

In addition, the commissioners proposed an increase in the price of black bear and mountain lion tags to make them the same amount as wolf tags, and the same amount as lion tags were until 2000 - $26.50 for resident tags and $256 for nonresident tags.

For the changes to be approved this year in time for the possibility of wolf delisting this fall, the proposed changes must be submitted as proposed legislation by early February.

Meanwhile, Fish and Game officials are working on a wolf hunting and species management plan under the guidelines of the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan that would reduce wolf numbers in areas of conflict and try to stabilize numbers across the rest of the state.

Any hunting seasons must be approved by the commissioners.

Lake Pend Oreille Meeting Planned

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled a public meeting to provide an update on fishery recovery efforts in Lake Pend Oreille.

The "State of the Lake" meeting will be from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, February 10, at the Sandpoint Community Hall, 204 S. First Ave.

Anyone interested in the Lake Pend Oreille fishery is encouraged to attend. Fish and Game will provide refreshments.

Kokanee numbers are continuing to decline, and survival of juvenile kokanee is at an all time low because of predation. Lake trout and rainbow trout are the primary predators. The current program using angler incentives, trap netting, and gill netting have combined to significantly reduce lake trout populations in the lake.

Internationally recognized lake trout expert Dr. Mike Hansen has been working with Fish and Game to assess recovery efforts, and has constructed a lake trout population model for Lake Pend Oreille. By continuing all of the removal methods at the current level, the lake trout population is projected to collapse in the lake within five years. With angler harvest alone, or net harvest alone, the lake trout population is projected to take 50 or more years to collapse. A collapse of the lake trout population is needed before kokanee numbers can recover.

Fortunately, the total number of kokanee fry in the lake in 2006 was relatively high. In addition, 9.3 million eyed kokanee eggs are being hatched at the Cabinet Gorge Hatchery for release as fry next summer into Lake Pend Oreille. While this year's healthy egg take helped to "buy time" for the kokanee population, unless predation by lake and rainbow trout is significantly reduced in the near future, hope for restoring the lake's kokanee will be lost.