Press Release

April 2007

Commissioners to Consider Chinook Season

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet at 11 a.m. Friday, May 4, in a telephone conference call to consider proposed spring Chinook salmon seasons.

This year the preseason expectation is for 27,700 Chinook to cross Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in southeastern Washington - the last of eight federal dams the fish must pass before reaching Idaho. That's fewer than the 2006 run of 32,664.

But not all those fish will be available to anglers.

Nearly 11,000 of them are wild fish that must be left in the river, and nearly 17,000 are hatchery fish, most of them marked. The Rapid River hatchery near Riggins needs about 2,500 Chinook and the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery near Orofino needs about 1,200 fish for broodstock for the next generation of salmon.

Both met their goal last year.

The number of fish available to anglers this year would be based on the numbers returning beyond the needs of hatcheries, and that surplus would be split between tribal and nontribal fisheries.

The 2007 run has just begun to reach Lower Granite with 314 adult Chinook salmon counted as of April 29. The 10-year average at Lower Granite for this date is 13,133 fish. The run appears to be late, but preliminary indications from counts at Bonneville Dam, the first dam on the lower Columbia River, are that returns over Lower Granite will meet the forecast number.

Last year, 10,706 adult Chinook were trapped at Idaho hatcheries, and anglers caught 5,701 fish, and of those they kept 3,610. Based on pre-season projections, however, fewer spring Chinook hatchery returns are expected to be available for nontribal anglers in 2007. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will update these projections as dam counts and tagging data become available.

Commission to Consider Sandhill Crane Hunts

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider and set sandhill crane hunting seasons and permit levels at its meeting in Sun Valley May 16-18.

The current proposal is for 500 permits for southeast Idaho, the same as in 2006. Fish and Game would like to hear from those with comments on that proposal.

Sandhill cranes are one of the most long-lived birds; some may live 20 years. They are reddish-brown with a red crown, stand nearly 3 feet tall, and have a wingspan of almost seven feet. Their trumpeting call is loud, distinctive, and stirring to hear on an early morning.

Their recovery has been good, but they also cause depredation problems on grain crops in some areas.

The Rocky Mountain population of greater sandhill cranes is a wildlife management success story. Numbers have increased from a few thousand in the 1960s to around 23,000 last fall. Southeast Idaho, mainly Teton, Caribou and Bear Lake counties, host the largest concentration of the birds in Idaho when they gather in August and early September for their fall migration to wintering areas in southern Colorado and New Mexico.

The first hunting seasons for cranes in Idaho were in 1996 with 20 permits in Caribou County. Three years of population surveys were used to determine how many permits could be issued. As crane numbers have increased, hunters have seen more permits become available.

Allowable harvest of cranes is set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"This year Idaho's harvest allocation has been set at 306 birds, a similar number to last year." says Tom Hemker, statewide waterfowl coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. Last year the allocation was 336, of which 236 birds were taken by hunters. Fish and Game proposes 500 permits to take 336 birds because not all hunters are successful.

Badger Creek Among Ô10 Waters to Watch'

Badger Creek in Butte County has been named one of the national "10 Waters to Watch" by the National Fish Habitat Board, a group of the nation's leading authorities on aquatic conservation.

This project will restore 6.5 miles of fish access for bull trout and other important species. Badger Creek runs into the Little Lost River.

The waters featured on this list were chosen to demonstrate the collaborative conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, a new initiative to reverse persistent declines in the quality of our nation's aquatic habitat.

"Thanks to a powerful collaboration between national, state and local partners, these 10 waters and the many others across the nation are now beginning the healing process," said Kim Goodman, Trout Unlimited's Idaho water project director. "These projects, and the many others under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, mark the beginning of an unprecedented effort to reverse the decline of aquatic habitats for fish and wildlife."

The waters highlighted on the list reach from Maine to Alaska and from Idaho to Mississippi. The other "Waters to Watch" projects are:

Nature Center Events

Wood Carver's Guild

The Idaho Wood Carver's Guild members will exhibit their skill on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, at the Morrison Knudsen Nature Center in Boise.

Wood carvers demonstrate their craft, and award winning wildlife wood carvings will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A variety of work will be represented in the exhibit, including the traditional woodcarving categories of waterfowl, animal, fish, human figure, and caricature. Northwestern American Indian art forms are a special feature. Show events will include carving demonstrations, classes, contests and raffles.

This exhibit will present the work of carvers at all skill levels from beginner to expert.

The Idaho Woodcarvers Guild promotes the art through teaching and exhibitions. The membership includes youth and others who whittle for their own enjoyment, sculptors who use wood as their medium and professionals who have won blue ribbons at world-level carving competitions.

Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

The Nature Center is behind the Idaho Department of Fish and Game headquarters at 600 South Walnut St., Boise.

For information, contact Lennie Williams at 208 336-6787 or Douglas Rose at 208-387-0492.

Nature Center Celebrates Bird Life

The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 12.

This year's event offers a full day of activities, including bird watching, owl pellet investigation, bird beak adaptations, bird Olympics, face painting and other children's activities.

Biologists and experts from the Boise National Forest, Idaho Bird Observatory, Idaho Fish and Game, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation Habitat Program and Wild Birds Unlimited will be on hand.

Salmon Alternative High School Woodshop Benefits Bluebirds

By Beth Waterbury, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The school bus pulled up to the Salmon regional office of Idaho Department of Fish and Game bearing 10 lively students, one energetic teacher and 80 freshly-built bluebird nest boxes.

Without missing a beat, Salmon Alternative High School woodshop teacher Jay Skeen directed the students into fire drill formation and unloaded the bird boxes within minutes. And within a few days, the stack of bird boxes disappeared to good homes during Fish and Game's annual bluebird nest box giveaway.

For the past several years, Skeen and Fish and Game have teamed up to develop woodworking projects that challenge the skills of his woodshop students and benefit the area's wildlife. Past projects have included nest boxes for wood ducks, nesting platforms for ospreys, roosting boxes for bats and feeding platforms for songbirds.

The nest boxes in particular have been a boon to native birds. The boxes simulate a natural cavity in a tree, and several species of birds in Idaho nest in tree holes, including the mountain bluebird, house wrens, tree and violet-green swallows, chickadees, wood ducks and hooded mergansers. Some of the wood duck nest boxes made by Skeen's woodshop class also provide housing for mammals, such as deer mice and flying squirrels.

From Skeen's perspective, the partnership between Salmon Alternative High School and Fish and Game generates goodwill all around.

"It's mutual support, and there isn't enough of that in the world," he said.

Beth Waterbury is the regional nongame biologist in Fish and Game's Salmon Region.

Ask Fish and Game: Fishing Reports

Q. Where's the best place to get information about fishing around the state?

A. Idaho Fish and Game produces fishing reports updated weekly for each of the seven regions of the state. They can be found under "Fishing" on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. The agency also is set to launch an interactive Fishing Planner that lets anglers search for information about specific lakes, reservoirs and streams around the state. It too will be available on the Website.

Elk Hunting Event Planned for Women

Women interested in learning effective elk hunting techniques and outdoor skills have a chance to take a Women's Elk Hunting Clinic, May 11-13, at the Luna Ranch near Orofino.

The weekend event, sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, will provide an interactive, noncompetitive, educational outdoor experience just for women.

The event will run from 6 p.m. Friday to noon Sunday.

"This clinic is about encouraging women to try new sporting activities in a safe environment that makes them feel at ease," said Theresa Luna, Women in the Outdoors regional coordinator. "It's also a chance for women of all walks of life-singles, moms, daughters, young and old-to spend a weekend outdoors, away from home, hanging out and having fun."

Designed to provide a backcountry elk hunting experience, the women will enjoy a short horseback ride or hike into camp where they will learn about proper camp setup, campfire cooking, elk vocalization and habits, stand placement, field dressing of game, Global Position Systems and map reading, and much more.

Participants also learn the importance of wildlife management and the role hunters play in conservation. Women interested in archery hunting may qualify to receive their bowhunter safety certification.

"The main goal is to have fun and learn," said Scott Luna, a Fish and Game bowhunter education instructor coordinating the event. "But be prepared to learn hands-on strategies and effective techniques to help you bag your bull."

The cost is $90; mothers who bring their daughters aged 14 to 19 can register together for $150. Each participant will receive five meals, instruction, use of all equipment and supplies, bow hunter safety certification, elk calls, and a one-year membership to the National Wild Turkey Federal, the quarterly magazine from the Women in Outdoors.

Salmon Alternative High School Woodshop Benefits Bluebirds

By Beth Waterbury, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The school bus pulled up to the Salmon regional office of Idaho Department of Fish and Game bearing 10 lively students, one energetic teacher and 80 freshly-built bluebird nest boxes.

Without missing a beat, Salmon Alternative High School woodshop teacher Jay Skeen directed the students into fire drill formation and unloaded the bird boxes within minutes. And within a few days, the stack of bird boxes disappeared to good homes during Fish and Game's annual bluebird nest box giveaway.

For the past several years, Skeen and Fish and Game have teamed up to develop woodworking projects that challenge the skills of his woodshop students and benefit the area's wildlife. Past projects have included nest boxes for wood ducks, nesting platforms for ospreys, roosting boxes for bats and feeding platforms for songbirds.

The nest boxes in particular have been a boon to native birds. The boxes simulate a natural cavity in a tree, and several species of birds in Idaho nest in tree holes, including the mountain bluebird, house wrens, tree and violet-green swallows, chickadees, wood ducks and hooded mergansers. Some of the wood duck nest boxes made by Skeen's woodshop class also provide housing for mammals, such as deer mice and flying squirrels.

From Skeen's perspective, the partnership between Salmon Alternative High School and Fish and Game generates goodwill all around.

"It's mutual support, and there isn't enough of that in the world," he said.

Beth Waterbury is the regional nongame biologist in Fish and Game's Salmon Region.

(Note: JPEG available on request)

Northern Part of Egin-Hamer Closure Opens May 1

Right on schedule, the northern portion of the Egin-Hamer closure area will open at sunrise on May 1.

Despite the nice spring weather and much of the wintering wildlife moving on to other areas, the area north of the Egin-Hamer Road has remained closed to human travel. Recently, Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff members have seen deer and elk taking advantage of early green up conditions in the area.

The area south of the road opened sunrise April 1.

Some years, when the winters are mild, the local, state, and federal agencies that manage the Egin-Hamer area have been able to open parts of the area earlier, but that was not the case this year. Biologists have been keeping an eye on the movement of big game in the area, and early green-up, especially on recently burned areas, means that some animals have still been hanging around in the closed area.

The area is popular with local families that hunt through the sagebrush for shed antlers. Keeping illegal horn hunters out not only protects wildlife, but insures a fair start for legal antler collectors when the area opens.

Maps and exact descriptions of the closed area are available at the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Game offices in Idaho Falls or call BLM at 208-524-7445 or Fish and Game at 208-525-7290.

Southeast Region Fish Meetings Set

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game plans a series of meetings to gather public comments to be used in preparation of the 2008-2009 fishing rules.

Information from recent Southeast Region fishery studies will also be presented.

Fish and Game is looking for comments on fishing related issues, including fishing rule changes on specific water bodies, and on rule and management changes that are being considered.

All meetings start at 7 p.m. Meeting dates are as follows:

- Tuesday, May 8, ISU-Student Union 3rd Floor, North Fork Room, Pocatello.

- Wednesday, May 9, Mountain View Middle School - Room 410, Blackfoot.

- Thursday, May 10, Senior Citizens' Center - 60 South Main Soda Springs.

- Tuesday, May 15, Preston Fire Station, Preston.

- Wednesday, May 16, Oregon Trail Center-Theater Room, Montpelier.

Ideas Fish and Game would like to discuss with the public at the meeting include:

- Treasureton Reservoir in Franklin County: Should the minimum trout size at this reservoir remain at 16 inches or be increased to 20 inches?

- Glendale and Condie reservoirs in Franklin County: The minimum size limit for bass is 16 inches at Glendale and 20 inches at Condie. The department is considering having just one minimum bass size limit for both reservoirs.

- McCoy Creek in Caribou County: In 1998 the opening date on this stream was changed from the general opener to July 1 to prevent what was mainly a catch-and-release fishery on pre-spawn native and hatchery cutthroat trout. This rule was requested by anglers who did not want trout stressed before spawning. Considerable fishing opportunity was lost with this rule change and the department would like to know if the public would like the July 1 opener to continue or to return to Memorial Day weekend as it did before 1998.

- Provide additional trout fishing opportunities with winter catch and release seasons on some rivers and streams.

Pend Oreille Predator Harvest in High Gear

Anglers and netters have been making a dent in part of Lake Pend Oreille's predator population in 2007, Idaho Fish and Game Regional Fishery Manager Ned Horner says.

Through mid April, anglers had turned in just under 2,500 lake trout heads since January. In addition, gill and trap netting started the last week in March and in four weeks removed 1,029 lake trout.

"The 3,500 plus lake trout removed so far this year amount to about 22 percent of the total taken in 2006, so we are well ahead of last year, at least for lake trout," Horner said.

Anglers are being paid $15 for every lake trout and rainbow trout over 12 inches they take from Lake Pend Oreille to quickly reduce the predator population to prevent kokanee from disappearing. For 2007, the Clark Fork River, Lightning Creek and tributaries, Grouse Creek and tributaries and the Pack River were also opened to rainbow trout harvest on April 1.

Harbor Fisheries has been contracted to run deep-water trap nets and gill nets to remove lake trout under Idaho Fish and Game supervision. Netters will be active through May and then all nets will be removed for June, July and the first part of August.

There will be no gill netting east of the Long Bridge during the K&K Derby to reduce conflicts with anglers. But anglers need to be aware that 10 deep-water trap nets are still in the north end of the lake: Lee's Point, Sheepherder Point, Thompson Point, Pearl Island, Warren Island East and West, Sunnyside, Fishermen's Island, Bottle Bay and Sourdough Point.

The nets are marked with orange flags on staff buoys.

Rainbow trout harvest by anglers is lagging behind the harvest of lake trout.

Between January and mid April, about 640 rainbow trout have been turned in for the $15 per fish reward. This includes 66 rainbow trout taken from tributary streams, most from the Clark Fork River.

Comments Sought on Panhandle Turkey Rules

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the Panhandle Region's fall turkey hunts.

The proposals are intended to resolve chronic depredation issues in game management units 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Winter flocks of wild turkey in the Panhandle have increased beyond property owners' levels of tolerance. Since 2004, 730 turkeys have been trapped and moved from Panhandle Region winter flocks without a noticeable reduction in hunting opportunity or the following year's depredation concerns.

Details on the proposals are available at all Fish and Game offices, where the public can complete a questionnaire. Deadline for all public comments is May 9.

The questionnaire will not be available on the department's website.

No changes are proposed for the Clearwater Region.

All comments will be forwarded to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for review at the May 16 - 18 meeting.