Press Release

March 2007

Ask the Conservation Officer

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "A friend of mine who owns a ranch in unit 49 along the Little Wood River told me had negotiated with the Fish and Game for a controlled hunt buck tag in the South Hills in exchange for allowing public access to hunters onto his land this fall. Can he do that?"

Answer: Under certain circumstances, yes he can.

The Access Yes! program is going into its fourth year. Under the old program, landowners could negotiate a cash payment from the Department for providing sportsmen access onto or through their private land.

Landowners told us in some cases they would be willing to allow sporting public access to their land, but they did not want money; instead they wanted non-financial commitments from the Department. To allow the Department flexibility to negotiate other incentives for public access, the commission agreed to a 3-year experiment in the Magic Valley region.

Under a new "Access Yes" pilot program landowners can negotiate with the Department of Fish and Game for public access. One of the incentives allowed by the commission is big game controlled hunt tags for the landowner or an immediate family member in exchange for allowing hunters or anglers access onto or through their private lands.

The process begins with landowners developing a proposal or "bid" for public hunting, fishing, or trapping access in exchange for money, big game controlled hunt tags, habitat improvement projects, or other special projects. In their bid proposal, landowners list specific prohibitions and restrictions. Reasonable restrictions include things such as restricting the maximum numbers of sportsmen per day or prohibiting overnight camping and camp fires.

Last Chance to Signup For Access Yes! in 2007

Landowners interested in receiving compensation for allowing hunters and anglers on their property have until March 31 to send in their applications for the Access Yes! program.

This year, landowners can get assistance with fence repair, doing habitat projects, receive big game controlled hunt tags, or receive financial compensation for allowing public access.

"The new Access Yes! pilot program is going to be a lot more user friendly," said Steve Elam, Idaho Fish and Game staff biologist. "In the past, we have always been limited by the amount of money available; now we have several options so we can customize a program for nearly any landowner and hopefully be able to acquire more sportsmen's access to private lands."

Last year, 38 landowners enrolled 184,000 private acres in the Magic Valley Region.

"We continue to receive very positive comments from landowners, hunters and anglers about the program," Elam said.

A local, five-member committee reviews the bids submitted by landowners and recommends to Fish and Game which ones should be accepted. Fish and Game then determines which of the properties will provide the most benefit based on compensation and access priorities.

Selected properties must have Access Yes! signs and will be listed on the Internet with maps and any access restrictions.

Landowners interested in participating in the Access Yes! program should contact Steve Elam, at 324-4359.

Fish and Game to Host Sportsman's Breakfast

The Idaho Department Fish and Game will host a Sportsman's Breakfast on Wednesday, April 11, in Weiser.

Several Fish and Game staff members and Fish and Game Commissioner Bob Barowsky will be on hand to discuss issues and answer questions.

All are invited.

"We want to encourage everyone with an interest in Fish and Game-related issues to attend," Fish and Game regional supervisor Scott Reinecker said. "We'd particularly like to see representatives from local sporting clubs in attendance to visit with us about current or upcoming wildlife-related projects their respective club might be working on."

The event will be from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the Weiser Senior Center, 115 E. Main Street.

"Fish and Game will supply the coffee, and a sausage, eggs, hash browns and biscuits breakfast will be available at a cost of $5 per person," Reinecker said.

Reinecker hopes to make the breakfast a monthly event.

"We're interested in visiting regularly with area residents," he said. "If this event generates enough public attendance, we'll look at continuing the breakfast on a monthly basis."

For information about the Sportsman's Breakfast, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465.

Cabin Fever Cure Causes Headaches for Hunters

Winters in Eastern Idaho can be long and cold so when early spring weather shows up its understandable that folks want to get out and enjoy themselves as a cure for cabin fever.

While most people who head out to the hills for fun are responsible, a few seem to go out of their way to cause trouble. Unfortunately, the actions of these few miscreants can lead to the loss of access to private lands for large numbers of sportsmen. Such is the case regarding some vandalism east of Ririe Reservoir during the stretch of nice weather in mid-March.

"We're asking the public for assistance in locating who might be responsible for vandalism and damage to both private and public property just east of Ririe Reservoir sometime during the week of March 12," said senior conservation officer Dan Kelsey of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Vandals drove across newly sprouting grain fields and destroyed signs belonging to Fish and Game's Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area.

"Not only did they tear up the fields by cutting from one road to another, they also busted off a Fish and Game sign from Bull's Fork near Kepp's Crossing south of Tex Creek WMA, and then dumped it north of the WMA after using it to get unstuck from a mud bog," Kelsey said.

Unfortunately, this happens all across Idaho on an all too regular basis.

"The families that own this property have allowed access for hunting for over 50 years, and this kind of vandalism leads to the loss of hunting opportunity for everyone," said Cameron Wheeler, Idaho Fish and Game commissioner for the Upper Snake Region.

That means sportsmen pay the price of lost access because of the wanton disregard of others who are also using the outdoors.

"In the case of the Ririe area, no real hunting seasons are open, and the ground squirrels aren't even out for the plinkers yet," Kelsey said.

Big Lost Mountain Whitefish Plan Available for Review

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking comments on the mountain whitefish conservation and management plan for the Big Lost River drainage.

The draft plan was developed in response to concerns over the decline in numbers and distribution as well as the unique aspects of the mountain whitefish population.

The Big Lost River is a hydrologically isolated stream basin along the northern rim of the Eastern Snake River Plain in southeastern Idaho. Unlike any other river in Idaho, the Big Lost has only one native salmonid-the mountain whitefish. They are thought to have entered the Big Lost River basin through an ancient connection with the Snake River. DNA analysis shows they have been isolated for thousands of years, and they show a high degree of genetic divergence from other mountain whitefish populations.

The plan reviews historical and current distribution and abundance based on fishery surveys and historical accounts. It also discusses potential factors affecting the population and identifies management actions thought to be critical to attain population objectives.

The plan was developed with comments from other agencies, private landowners, irrigators and fish conservation organizations. It is available at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/misc/whitefish.cfm. Comments will be accepted until April 30 and may be submitted online, or sent to Jim Fredericks, regional fishery manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Upper Snake Region, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls, ID 83401.

Funding for Angler Incentive Program Approved

Avista's Management Committee has approved funding for the Lake Pend Oreille Angler Incentive Program and the Trap and Gill Net Program through March 2008.

The incentive program pays anglers $15 per fish for lake trout and rainbow more than 12 inches, with a head length of at least 2 inches. The Management Committee is a group of 27 stakeholders who manage the mitigation program from the utility company's two hydroelectric projects on the lower Clark Fork River.

New this year: rainbow trout caught in the lower Clark Fork River, below the railroad Bridge at the town of Clark Fork, and in Lightning Creek, Grouse Creek and the Pack River will also be eligible for the incentive award. The fishing season on Lightning Creek, Grouse Creek and the Pack River opens April 1 and closes on August 31; the lower Clark Fork River is open all year.

Anglers must fill out and sign data slips. They also must turn in the fish heads at one of the Idaho Fish and Game freezers at Hope Marine Services or Holiday Shores in Ellisport Bay; at Anchor Gas in Garfield Bay; or at the Hudson Bay Marina or the Fish and Game Research Office in Bayview. Payment is made twice a month through checks issued by the Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club.

"We are making good progress toward reducing predation pressure by lake trout," Fish and Game regional fishery supervisor Ned Horner said. "But anglers need to step up harvest on rainbow trout."

Trap netting will resume in Lake Pend Oreille in late March as part of the multi-pronged effort to prevent the kokanee fishery from collapsing. The spring netting effort will concentrate in the northern part of the lake and will run from mid-March through about mid-June. After that point, netting will resume in late August and continue through late November.

Critters for Sale, Traps and Fishing Poles, Too

This year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's annual auction of seized items will be in Idaho Falls on Saturday, April 7.

The auction of found, forfeited, and seized items by Fish and Game is an annual happening-known to many simply as "The Fur Sale." Most of the auction items are furs and hides found, confiscated or seized by courts throughout the state during the past year.

To make it fair for all the residents of the state, Fish and Game moves the fur sale from region to region each year. This means that in the weeks leading up to the fur sale Fish and Game trucks will be shuttling loads of frozen hides, miscellaneous animal parts and assorted forfeited items to Idaho Falls.

"While some firearms have been seized by the court in certain regions of the state as part of Fish and Game cases, those firearms are being sold as part of the regular surplus property auction held in Boise each month," regional conservation officer John Hanson said.

But because firearms are considered valuable personal property, firearms used in the commission of a wildlife crime are not commonly seized, whereas fishing poles and traps often are.

Bid lots are a real mixed bag, some are valuable taxidermy mounts, some are green hides, and others are downright road kill. Folks also have the opportunity to bid on bundles of fishing poles.

Bidders have a chance to preview all items. But because the background of many of the animals is unknown, none are sold with the intention that the meat be consumed.

Along with curious sportsmen, amateur and professional taxidermists show up to bid on animals. Sometimes unique items, such as bear cubs, come up for sale and are just what a taxidermist may be looking for to complete a bear family creation.

Ask Fish and Game: Fish Transport Permits

Q. Why does Fish and Game require permits for transporting live fish?

A. Permits from the director of Fish and Game are required to reduce the danger of introducing non-native fish into waters with an existing fishery. Such introductions can destroy an otherwise healthy fishery. Transporting live fish can also inadvertently introduce unwanted hitchhikers such as invasive snails and other critters along with aquatic weeds that spread rapidly and destroy native aquatic habitat.

Cabin Fever Cure Causes Headaches for Hunters

Winters in Eastern Idaho can be long and cold, so when early spring weather shows up it's understandable that folks want to get out and enjoy themselves as a cure for cabin fever.

While most people who head out to the hills for fun are responsible, a few seem to go out of their way to cause trouble. Unfortunately, the actions of these few miscreants can lead to the loss of access to private lands for large numbers of sportsmen. Such is the case regarding some vandalism east of Ririe Reservoir during the stretch of nice weather in mid March.

"We're asking the public for assistance in locating who might be responsible for vandalism and damage to both private and public property just east of Ririe Reservoir sometime during the week of March 12," said Senior Conservation Officer Dan Kelsey of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Vandals drove across newly sprouting grain fields and destroyed signs belonging to Fish and Game's Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area.

"Not only did they tear up the fields by cutting from one road to another, they also busted off a Fish and Game sign from Bull's Fork near Kepp's Crossing south of Tex Creek WMA, and then dumped it north of the WMA after using it to get unstuck from a mud bog," Kelsey said.

Unfortunately, this happens all across Idaho on an all too regular basis.

"The families that own this property have allowed access for hunting for over 50 years, and this kind of vandalism leads to the loss of hunting opportunity for everyone," said Cameron Wheeler, Idaho Fish and Game commissioner for the Upper Snake Region.

That means sportsmen are paying the price of lost access because of the wanton disregard of others who are also using the outdoors.

"In the case of the Ririe area, no real hunting seasons are open, and the ground squirrels aren't even out for the plinkers yet," Kelsey said.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I'm in a wheel chair and have had a wonderful time this spring fishing the Oster Lakes at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area. I have discovered non-handicapped folks often parking in the handicapped parking area. When they do this it prevents me from accessing the handicapped fishing pier. Is it unlawful for non-handicapped anglers to park in areas designated for handicapped persons?

Answer: Yes, it is unlawful as well as unethical.

Idaho law in part says É Parking a vehicle in space reserved for a person with a disability, when the space is signed properly, is prohibited unless the vehicle is parked temporarily to assist a person with a disability or unless the vehicle has handicapped license plates or a handicapped placard is displayed.

The law goes on to say the registered owner of a vehicle parked in violation of this law is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100). Vehicles parked in violation of this section may also be towed pursuant to provisions of state law or local ordinance.

The handicapped fishing pier you refer to was built in 1992 by employees at the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery. Their intent was to provide a wheel chair accessible area for handicapped anglers. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game manages the area and has added some handicapped parking and wheel chair access to restrooms.

Thank you for pointing out this concern. We will watch for abuses during this fishing season.

Reference Idaho Code 49-213(2).

If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Fish and Game Releases Regional Weekly Fishing Reports

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has launched a weekly from-the-bank kind of view of fishing around Idaho on the agency's Website.

Information for this report is gathered weekly from local Fish and Game fishery managers, tackle shops, outfitters and anglers. The feature focuses on where the fish are biting, what anglers are catching and what they're using to catch them. It also includes ice conditions, and any runoff and other potential hazards.

"In my opinion, Idaho has the best fishing anywhere," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "With Fish and Game's weekly fishing reports, anglers are just a click away from knowing where the fish are biting pretty much anywhere in the state. This is the first of many new customer oriented features we are working on for the Fish and Game's Website to bring more timely information to anyone interested in Idaho's outdoors."

Idaho has more than 10 world-class blue-ribbon wild trout streams, including the Henrys Fork, Silver Creek and the St. Joe River scattered throughout the state. Many other high-quality trout streams exist, and the new reports will help angles find those spots.

Idaho's rugged mountains contain more than 1,500 high mountain lakes with good trout fishing. And the many large lakes and reservoirs provide a wide variety of fishing for warm- and cold-water species. Perhaps best of all, most of these fishing waters are on public lands and are open to the public - access is free.

In addition, Idaho is the only inland western state with ocean-run salmon and steelhead. When conditions are right, the hatchery part of these runs provide some exciting fishing. State records are 54 pounds for salmon and 30 pounds, 2 ounces for steelhead.

Learn where to catch these lunkers.

Southern Part of Egin-Hamer To Open April 1

It's no April-fools joke, the southern part of the Egin-Hamer closure will open at sunrise April 1.

Since its inception nine years ago, the southern and northern portions of the Egin-Hamer closure have opened April 1 and May 1 respectively. This meant that technically people could legally be out in the desert one second after midnight.

"Why would anyone want to wander around in the desert in the middle of the cold dark night?"

The answer is exclusively to gather shed antlers, and according to some Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officers, it was amazing how many antlers people "found" before the sun was even up.

To help create a more level playing field, local resource managers and county commissioners this year agreed to move the opening time to sunrise on both days. To be exact, the southern portion opens at 7:09 a.m. Sunday, April 1, and the northern portion opens at 6:19 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, for the northern portion.

The current closure plan was created when Fremont and Jefferson County commissioners approached the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Game about revisiting an earlier winter road closure.

The Egin-Hamer Road divides the closure area into two uneven segments. They agreed on opening the road to winter travel in return for closing off important winter range adjacent to the road.

But because habitat needs change for wildlife as the winter progresses, the two segments have different opening days. The agreement also included access for private landowners with legitimate business inside the areas. And the eastern portion of the dunes also has remained open year-round.

The southern segment borders the Egin-Hamer Road on the north, Highway 33 on the south and Interstate 15 on the west. The eastern boundary runs from where the Henrys Fork crosses Highway 33 and heads north through Plano and then toward Egin.