Press Release

September 2007

Irrigators Asked to Contact Fish and Game

As the cold weather arrives and the irrigation season winds down, Salmon area landowners begin to turn off their head gates.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department would like to remind all irrigators to contact the Fish and Game Screen Program at 208-756-6022 several days before ditches are shut off.

Irrigators are also encouraged to ramp down their flows over several days to protect juvenile salmon and steelhead. The gradual decrease in flow stimulates fish to migrate out of the irrigation system.

Fish and Game asks irrigators to leave a minimum flow of 50 miner's inches, or one cubic foot per second, in the ditch so that Fish and Game can salvage any stranded fish.

Mule Deer Numbers Stable in Salmon Region

The general deer season this year in the Salmon Region will be similar to the 2006 season, the Salmon regional wildlife manager with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game predicts.

"All of the information we have collected shows that the mule deer numbers in the Salmon Region have been stable over the last five to ten years," wildlife manager Tom Keegan said. "Buck numbers are variable, with same places above objectives and others a little below."

Wildlife biologists collect information about deer herds by counting animals from helicopters. For many years there have been flights in a few key areas in both early and late winter.

In early winter, biologists count the number of fawns for every hundred does as well as the percentage of bucks left after hunting season. The late winter flights determine how many fawns survived the winter.

The Salmon Region has the lowest mule deer fawn survival rate in the state. Unfortunately, fawn survival can't be increased by changing hunting seasons.

"Mule deer numbers depend on how much habitat they have," Keegan said. "Deer need much higher nutrition than elk do."

The long, cold winters in the Salmon Region mean that mule deer have to eat even more in a short period of time. The more fat a mule deer has in the fall, the more likely it will survive the winter.

Unlike elk, mule deer can't live on grass. Mule deer are browsers; they depend on shrubs, such as sagebrush and bitterbrush, for their diet. They also need healthy aspen stands for fawn habitat.

A healthy aspen stand has lots of green plants underneath, including young aspens. Aspen stands provide cover and shade for the fawns. The broad-leaved plants also offer much-needed nourishment for the does.

Mule deer have lost habitat all over the West, and central Idaho is no exception. Farming, ranching, housing developments, hotter fires, forest encroachment, and long-term drought have all reduced shrub habitat.

Youth Pheasant Hunting Clinic Scheduled For November 3

A chance to hunt ring-necked pheasants awaits young hunters who sign up for a youth pheasant clinic scheduled for Saturday, November 3, in Lewiston.

"Hunting's future lies with today's youth, so we hope to spark an interest to the sport and wildlife conservation," said Jay Roach, North Idaho chapter president of Pheasants Forever. "The goal is to make hunting a priority among all the other activities that vie for a teenager's time."

The clinic is free and intended for first-time hunters 12 through 15 years of age who already have completed a hunter education course and hold a valid Idaho hunting license. An adult supervisor must accompany each young hunter throughout the one-day clinic.

Along with the pheasant hunt, participants will learn about wildlife conservation, dog handling, and will be able to hone their marksmanship skills, shooting sporting clays. There will be special emphasis on safety, ethics, sportsmanship and the hunting tradition.

Advance registration is required and space is limited to 25. Youth wishing to participate should contact the Clearwater Region office at 208-799-5010 no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, October 31. Detailed information will be provided to those who register in advance. No walk-ins will be accepted.

Sponsors include the Pheasant Forever, Flying B-Ranch, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Snake River Gun Dog & Sportsmen's Association, Lewiston Gun Club, and Clearwater Point Dog Club.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "Some of my friends and I are going to do a backpack big game hunt and will be packing meat out on pack frames. What are the rules on waste of game meat and what will we be required to bring out?"

Answer: You may not waste through carelessness, neglect or otherwise any game bird, game animal, or game fish or any portion usually eaten by humans. The intent of this law is to ensure people utilize the meat they harvest from game animals and fish.

The big game hunting brochure spells out what edible parts of a big game animal you are required to care for. They include "the meat of the front quarters as far down as the knee, hindquarters as far down as the hock, neck meat, meat along the backbone, and meat covering the ribs."

Conservation officers encounter many hunters in the field and at check stations that leave meat from the neck, ribs, or front shoulders of game animals such as deer, elk and moose. In some cases this meat is ruined because hunters lack the knowledge to properly care for their game. More often it's deliberate waste due to neglect or because it's difficult or inconvenient to pack out.

Conservation officers are spending more time weighing and examining boned out meat to determine if hunters have complied with the waste rule. In one case a hunter returned to the kill site of a moose to recover the bloodshot meat he left. To help prove he had not wasted the moose the hunter showed the recovered bloodshot meat to the officers.

Waterfowl Youth Hunt Opens Saturday

The annual youth waterfowl hunt is open Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30, for hunters aged 15 and under.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older.

Older hunters will have to wait until October 6 to hunt in northern and eastern Idaho and October 13 to hunt in southwestern Idaho and the Magic Valley.

All hunters must have a valid hunting license and a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation, and hunters 16 years old or older must have a federal migratory bird stamp. Nontoxic shot is required to hunt waterfowl.

The 107-day season for duck, geese, coots and snipe dates are:

  • October 6 to January 18, 2008 - Area 1, northern and eastern Idaho.
  • October 13 to January 25, 2008 - Area 2, southwestern Idaho and Magic Valley.
  • September 29 and 30 - two-day youth hunt for hunters aged 15 and under.

Bag limits are unchanged from last year, except the daily limit on canvasbacks was increased to two.

Daily limits are:

  • Ducks: 7 of any kind, including not more than:
    • 1 pintail.
    • 2 canvasbacks.
    • 2 redheads, female mallards.
    • 3 scaup, total lesser and greater.
  • Geese: 4 of any kind, Canada, white-fronted, Ross' or snow goose, except in Fremont and Teton counties, which are closed to Ross' and snow geese.
  • Coots: 25.
  • Common snipe: 8.

Possession after first day of season:

  • Ducks: 14 of any kind, including not more than:
    • 2 pintails.
    • 4 canvasbacks.
    • 4 redheads, female mallards.
    • 6 scaup, total lesser and greater.
  • Geese: 8 of any kind, except in Fremont and Teton counties, which are closed to Ross' and snow geese.
  • Coots: 25.
  • Common snipe: 16.

Please consult Idaho waterfowl hunting regulation for 2006-2007 for details.

Boise Becomes Bear Country

With a dry summer and a poor berry crop, black bears - especially young ones - are more likely to show up looking for food in urban neighborhoods in or near the foothills.

Already several bears have come into town looking for a meal in and near Boise. Here are some tips for city-folks and rural homeowners to avoid most conflicts with bears:

  • Keep garbage in bear-proof, latchable containers or inside a closed building until the morning the garbage will be picked up.
  • Empty and remove bird feeders during the summer months. Bears find that bird feeders are an easy food source.
  • Clean up fruit that has fallen from fruit trees in your yard. Rotting fruit attracts bears as well as raccoons and skunks.
  • Feed pets inside or during daylight hours; do not leave pet food or food scraps outside of your home. Table scraps and pet foods attract bears.
  • Store horse and livestock grains inside closed barns.
  • Don't compost in bear country. Decomposing organic materials will attract bears.
  • Keep barbeque grills stored inside closed buildings.
  • If you see a bear, notify police, Fish and Game or other authorities; watch it from a distance, and leave it alone. Black bears are not usually aggressive, but the danger may increase if a bear loses its fear of humans.

Most bear complaints happen in late summer when bears are traveling in search of food to fatten up for the winter. Black bears will eat almost anything.

Fish and Game Seeking Volunteers to Help Mule Deer

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is joining forces with local hunter groups on Saturday, September 29, to help with a fencing project to benefit mule deer.

Fish and Game and volunteers and area groups such as Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Southeast Idaho Mule Deer Foundation, will be headed to Stone in southern Idaho to remove about four miles of fence.

The fence on federal public land near the Black Pine area stands more than 8 feet high and blocks access to habitat by mule deer.

"With the recent onslaught of fires in critical habitat areas in southern Idaho, creating access to this area for mule deer is essential," said Toby Boudreau, Mule Deer Initiative coordinator for Fish and Game. "We hope we can get as many as 100 people out to help with this important project."

Anyone interested in helping with this project should contact Fish and Game at 208-232-4703. Volunteers will meet in the Sportsman's Warehouse parking lot in Chubbuck at 7 a.m. on September 29. Fish and Game will provide transportation to the project site, though it may be necessary for some individuals to drive their own vehicles if seating space becomes limited.

Lunch will be provided to all participants.

Volunteers and Fish and Game staff will remove approximately 8 feet of woven wire over a four-mile stretch. A shorter fence will be installed at a later time to allow livestock grazing in the area to continue while still providing access for mule deer.

For information contact Jennifer Jackson at 208-232-4703 or 208-251-9403.

Lost Valley Reservoir Trout Improvement Project Planned

By Evin Oneale, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Lost Valley Reservoir, west of McCall, will soon be dried up by irrigation demands, and Idaho Fish and Game plans to take advantage of that to improve trout fishing.

A large population of yellow perch now lives in the reservoir, effectively limiting the growth of rainbow trout stocked by Fish and Game.

"Lost Valley is simply too small to support a quality yellow perch population," Fish and Game fisheries biologist Paul Janssen said. "The perch can never grow to acceptable size for anglers, and by consuming nearly all of the available food supply in the reservoir, perch limit growth of the trout stocked by Fish and Game each year."

Trout fishing is also made more difficult by perch that quickly eat bait intended for trout. The reservoir drawdown will accomplish part of the remedy.

"Most of the perch will be removed from the reservoir as it is drained," Janssen said. "However, a significant number of perch will remain in the small storage pool above the dam and in Lost Creek and its tributaries."

In early to mid-October, Fish and Game plans to kill the remaining perch in these areas above the dam and in the plunge pool below with rotenone, approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, but it is not poisonous to humans.

"The reservoir outlet will be closed just prior to treatment, but we anticipate some leakage of rotenone-laden water out of the reservoir outlet that could kill fish in Lost Valley Creek, possibly down to its confluence with the West Fork of the Weiser River," Janssen said. "However, those fish are likely to perish anyway with no water flowing from Lost Valley Reservoir."

The entire process should be completed within a 24-hour period, and anglers will see improved trout fishing for the next four to five years.

The treatment of Lost Valley Reservoir to remove yellow perch is an old story.

Fish and Game Seeks Comment on Fishing Rule Changes

Anglers have until Friday, October 5, to let the Idaho Department of Fish and Game know what they think of proposed changes to fishing rules for the 2008-2009 fishing seasons.

Interested anglers may peruse and comment on the proposed statewide and regional changes in a questionnaire at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/. The agency also encourages the 900 fishing license holders statewide to whom printed surveys were sent, to fill them out and send them back to Fish and Game by October 5.

Statewide proposals include changes in the legal sizes of crayfish traps, seines, and cast nets; changes in sturgeon fishing equipment requirements, and new restrictions on the use of live bait. The proposed rules include a change in the general bass limit north of the Salmon River to six bass any size and creates a year-round season.

Proposed regional changes are available at regional Fish and Game offices, or the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.

Wolf Report: Tentative Mid-year Population Stats

Each year state and federal wolf managers compile a rough mid-year wolf population estimate for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Official interagency estimates in the 2007 annual report likely will be different and more accurate than these because of better wolf monitoring conditions in fall and winter and increased levels of wolf mortality and dispersal later in the year.

These figures give insight into the likely trend of the wolf population, conflicts and control relative to last year. Overall, the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in 2007 will be higher, wolf control about the same and confirmed livestock depredations lower than that documented in 2006.

Breeding pairs comprise an adult male and female and two or more pups on December 31, so the mid-year estimate is what might be present at the end of the year and probably is high.

In Idaho, the mid-year population estimate was for 788 wolves in 75 packs with 41 breeding pairs, which is up from 2006 with 673 wolves in 69 packs and 40 breeding pairs.

This year so far, 36 cows and 150 sheep have been confirmed as wolf kills - 46 wolves have been killed. In 2006, 29 cows and 205 sheep were confirmed wolf kills - 45 wolves were killed.

Across the northern Rockies this year the total estimated wolf population is 1,545 wolves in 179 packs with 105 breeding pairs. In 2006, the number was 1,300 wolves in 172 packs and with 86 breeding pairs.

Total mortalities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming so far are 111 cows and 185 sheep. And 134 wolves have been killed. In 2006 the numbers were 184 cows and 247 sheep confirmed wolf kills. And 142 wolves were killed.

Poaching Hotline Goes Live 24-7

The Idaho Citizens Against Poaching telephone hotline now is live 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Callers now will get a live voice whenever they call. The number is still 1-800-632-5999.

The Citizens Against Poaching program was started in December 1980, receiving its official charter title in January 1981, by concerned individuals under the guidance of Idaho Fish and Game. It was patterned after the New Mexico Operation Game Thief program.

Reports of violations through a toll-free telephone number, routes the information to Fish and Game conservation officers for investigation. Rewards are paid if the information supplied is sufficient for a citation or a warrant to be issued. A conviction is not necessary.

For the past 20 years, Fish and Game has documented 5,582 calls to the CAP hotline, which has generated 1,832 cases, and 3,449 citations. Successful prosecution has resulted in fines totaling $703,578 and civil penalties totaling $594,318.

A total of $382,097 in rewards has been paid to callers since 1986.

Major funding sources are:

  • Donations.
  • Controlled hunt fee check-offs.
  • Court ordered reimbursements.
  • License sales commission on licenses sold at department offices.

CAP is a nonprofit corporation with interested hunters and anglers from around the state serving as regional directors and officers.

Ask Fish and Game: Waterfowl Rules

Q. I see in the waterfowl rule book of 2007 that Power County is listed as being in Area 2 for geese, but the map shows it in Area 1. Which is it?

A. The map is correct. The inconsistency is the result of a typo in the 2007 waterfowl brochure. The goose zone boundary description on Page 14 is incorrect. Power County is in Area 1, as shown on the accompanying map. The error resulted from an attempt to resolve a goose hunting boundary issue along the American Falls to Aberdeen highway.