Press Release

March 2007

Kokanee Seminars Planned

The Kokanee Recovery Task Force, active in planning and management of the Lake Pond Oreille angler incentive program, plans two fishing seminars.

The first will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, in the community hall in Sandpoint. The second will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 14, at the Bayview Center on Perimeter Road (one block east of the Post Office) in Bayview.

The seminars will cover tips on boat safety and etiquette, down-rigging, jigging, trolling, and more. They will feature presentations from four seasoned anglers with extensive experience angling on Lake Pend Oreille.

For more information on the fishing seminars, contact Chip Corsi or Ned Horner at Fish and Game in Coeur d'Alene at 208-769-1414.

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 though 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 can 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.

Hunters Report Healthy Elk Harvest

Harvest reports submitted by hunters show little change in deer, elk and pronghorn numbers for the 2006 hunting season, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reports.

The results show that hunters shot 20,257 elk in 2006, down slightly from 21,520 in 2005 and 20,925 in 2004. The overall average elk hunter success rate was 19.5 percent.

The statewide elk population remains at about 125,000, and has been stable over the past six or seven years, big game manager Brad Compton recently told the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Hunters also shot about 22,000 white-tailed deer of a population estimated at about 200,000, and about 30,000 mule deer of a population estimated at about 300,000 statewide, and they killed 1,525 pronghorn antelope in 2006.

Fish and Game sold a total of 240,000 various tags to 134,000 resident and 25,000 nonresident hunters. Department officials got back 184,500 harvest reports on those tags.

Turkey Youth Hunt

Time to tune up that turkey call, the general season youth turkey hunt runs April 7 and 8.

Youths 15 years or younger on April 7 may participate in the youth hunt. The general spring turkey hunts open April 15 and runs through May 25. Dates vary for controlled hunts.

All youth hunters must have a valid hunting license and turkey tag and must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years or older.

Idaho is home to more than 30,000 turkeys, mostly of the Merriam subspecies.

Turkey hunting seasons and rules can be found at all Fish and Game offices, at license vendors statewide and on the Internet at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Hunters can also use the convenient Idaho Hunt Planner, found in the hunting section of the website, where detailed maps are available.

Hunters may buy an extra tag for the spring hunts, but the limit for the year is three turkeys with no more than two taken in either the spring or fall seasons. The extra tag is valid from May 1-25 and can also be used during the fall turkey season.

Turkey hunters must have a valid hunting license and a turkey tag. Resident adults pay $19.75 for a general tag and $12.25 for an extra tag. Discounted tags for youth, seniors and disabled veterans are $10.75 each. Nonresident turkey tags cost $67.50, except for junior mentored tags priced $10.75.

Turkey hunting requires special attention to safety in the field. Hunting information and safety tips are found at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/releases/view.cfm?NewsID=3094 on the Fish and Game website.

Annual Wolf Recovery Report Released

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its annual report on Rocky Mountain wolf recovery.

The report for 2006 includes a summary of wolf recovery activities in Idaho, which is available on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

Biologists estimated that by the end of 2006, at least 673 wolves lived in Idaho, and they documented 72 packs. Those packs included 53 known to have produced about 185 pups this year. But only 41 packs qualified as breeding pairs.

The annual report for Idaho shows that during 2006, 41 cattle, 238 sheep, and four dogs-three hunting hounds and one guard dog-were listed as confirmed or probable wolf kills.

Non-lethal techniques were used to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts when appropriate. And a total of 68 wolf deaths were documented in 2006-39 wolves involved in livestock deaths and injuries were killed by Wildlife Services, six were killed by livestock producers, in addition 14 died from other human causes, including illegal kills; seven died from unknown causes, and two documented deaths were from natural causes.

In recent wolf control activity in Idaho, federal wildlife officials got a call late on March 4 from a rancher near Ellis, who thought wolves had killed one of his calves.

The rancher had placed a tarp over the calf carcass to preserve the evidence. But when officials arrived to investigate the complaint on March 5, a wolf or wolves had been back, pulled the calf carcass out from under the tarp and eaten most of it.

Agents of the federal Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services found a fresh wolf track at the scene, but there was not enough left of the carcass to confirm whether wolves had killed the calf, so it was deemed a "probable" wolf kill.

Tax Checkoff Supports Nongame Species

As tax time approaches, consider supporting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's nongame program with a voluntary contribution through the state income tax check-off.

Fish and Game has always managed nongame wildlife to some degree, but the Nongame Wildlife Program became a reality in July 1982, following legislation that established the state's first income tax check-off on the 1981 income tax form.

Most of Idaho's wildlife is not hunted, fished or trapped.

The number of Idaho residents participating in wildlife related activities, such as bird and wildlife watching, wildlife photography, bird feeding and conservation education, continues to rise. While this constituency continues to grows, the problem of how to fund the nongame program and meet ever-increasing demands continues.

The program gets no money from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses or from the state general fund. The program relies on the income tax check-off, donations, grants and federal funds in addition to the sale of wildlife license plates.

To help 85 percent of Idaho's wildlife, consider checking line 36 on the state income tax form to make a contribution.

Last Chance: Annual Online Trip Auction

Spend a day in the backcountry to see wild horses, elk, antelope, golden eagles, and other wildlife in their natural settings of the Boulder-White Cloud, Lost River and Salmon River mountain ranges.

Anyone interested in such breathtaking nature experiences, awe-inspiring vistas and views, and heart-pounding excitement, still has a chance to bid on any one of 22 incredible outdoor adventures-from jet boating and river rafting to bird watching, wolf watching, sturgeon fishing and Snow Peak Mountain backpacking-in the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Federation 2007 Online Trip Auction.

Bidding ends at 7 p.m. Friday, March 23. Full trip descriptions and step-by-step instructions are available at the bottom of the page at www.ifwf.org.

The 17th annual trip auction is the foundation's largest fundraiser, with the money raised going to benefit Idaho's wildlife heritage. Proceeds from last year's auction helped hunter education programs and shooting ranges.

Ask Fish and Game: Controlled Hunt Applications

Q. When can I apply for moose, sheep and goat controlled hunts?

A. The application period for trophy species-moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat-starts April 1 and run through April 30. The application period for deer, elk, pronghorn and fall black bear controlled hunts starts May 1 and ends June 5.

Steelhead Snagging Angers Anglers

Steelhead anglers are mad about an illegal and unethical fishing method being used in the North Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers.

"Snagging is a big problem right now," said Larry Willmott, Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officer in the Clearwater Region. "It's not legal or ethical, and true sportsmen know it."

Fish and Game hears almost daily from anglers complaining about snagging.

"The majority of anglers are good folks that obey the laws and follow a strong code of ethics," Willmott said. "Unfortunately, there are a few that intentionally break the law."

Steelhead become vulnerable to snagging in shallow waters, or when congregating in shallow areas to spawn. Snagging or trying to snag game fish is unlawful and so is keeping game fish that has been snagged.

Snagging means taking a fish with a hook or lure in ways other than enticing a fish to strike and become hooked in its mouth or jaw. In other words, the fish must do the striking, not the angler.

Any game fish that is snagged must be released unharmed immediately.

Anyone who witnesses any illegal fishing or hunting activity is encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999, the Clearwater Region Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010 or local conservation officers. Callers may remain anonymous, and rewards are offered for information leading to a citation.

"If possible, collect as much information as possible, especially license plate numbers and descriptions of the violators, and report it as soon as you can," Willmott said. "The more information we have, the easier it is to apprehend and bring these violators to justice."

For more fishing rules, see the 2006-2007 fishing rules brochure available at Fish and Game offices, license vendors and on the Internet at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Passing the Buck

By Justin Williams - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Every year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game loses thousands of dollars when nonresidents claim to be residents.

Those lost dollars could have been spent on Idaho's wildlife, habitat and better access for hunters and anglers.

Simply owning property and paying property taxes does not entitle a person to buy a resident license. According to Idaho state law, a resident is someone who has lived in Idaho for at least six months with the intent to stay. A valid Idaho driver's license, filing state income taxes, being a registered voter, and being granted a home owner's exemption are all helpful when qualifying for residency.

Why would anyone try to cheat? The short answer is to save money. Residents generally pay about one-sixth to one-tenth the amount that nonresidents pay for the same license. In fact, of the western states, Idaho has some of the lowest license fees for residents and the highest for nonresidents.

For example, if a nonresident illegally buys a resident combination hunting-fishing license for $33.50, instead of the nonresident price of $199.75, the state loses nearly $167. If he then buys a resident elk tag for $30.75 instead of the nonresident price of $372.50, the state loses an additional $340 for a combined total of more than $500.

When a nonresident claims to be a resident of Idaho and purchases a resident license, only that buyer receives any benefit. Unfortunately, Idaho's residents and wildlife both lose. Just like insurance fraud or theft, law-abiding citizens end up paying the cost in many ways. Not only are they likely to pay more for their own licenses and fees, but the resource enjoyed by hunters and anglers-Idaho's wildlife-also suffers. Fewer dollars means fewer habitat improvement projects, less noxious weed control, fewer access sites, and less time to monitor wildlife populations.

Hooked on Fishing

By Joe Chapman, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

By the time you read this, fishing season will be open at the Oster Lakes and Riley Pond on the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area in the scenic Hagerman Valley.

Most of the geese and ducks have already vacated the area, and the few that remain are already protecting nesting areas. The warm weather during February had a few eager fisherman investigating the Oster Lakes and Riley Creek before the fishing opener on March 1. I am always amazed at the brave souls who will risk snow and biting cold to get that tug on the line at this time of the year.

Every year I struggle with trying to live up to the high expectations of fishing here. We had a couple of incredible years a few years ago that resulted in phenomenal fishing, thanks in part to donations of large fish from the private sector that are not available now. Anyway, although it may be more of a challenge to find a fish over 5 pounds, we will be stocking some nice-sized rainbow trout in Oster Lakes 1-4, Riley Pond and Riley Creek and will continue to do so weekly throughout the spring.

The rest of the wildlife management area opens July 1. In addition to rainbow trout, we have been fortunate to obtain some yellow trout eggs from a private hatchery the past couple of years, and some of these novelty trout are now up to 14 inches. I have been told that these are a cross between an albino steelhead and a rainbow trout. They seem to be more difficult to catch than a standard rainbow, so I'll pass on a couple tips to catch these later in this article.

Special Dry Bed Season Begins Two Weeks Early

Each year the head gates to the Dry Bed, or Great Feeder as it is also known, are shut off by the Great Feeder Association so that water users can make repairs to canals and head gates throughout the water delivery system.

Because this results in the dewatering of a portion of the Dry Bed, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game allows anglers to use normally prohibited methods from April 1 through April 30.

This year, because water users anticipate an earlier-than-normal demand for water, the shutoff is occurring about two weeks early and will begin on March 14. For this reason, Fish and Game has issued an order to allow the special rules opportunity to begin on March 15 and run through April 30.

This order allows anglers to take fish by hand, dipnet or snagging. Spears, archery, seining, toxic chemicals, explosives, electric current and firearms are prohibited.

The order does not remove the daily bag limit and applies only to that section of the Dry Bed between the Highway 48 Bridge and the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge, about 1.5 miles northeast of Ririe. There are no minimum size limits.

But anglers are limited to the normal daily limits that apply to the Dry Bed, which is 6 trout in the aggregate - includes rainbow, cutthroat, or brown trout - and 25 whitefish.

For further information, please contact the Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-525-7290.