Press Release

October 2007

Steelhead Release Planned for November

Idaho Fish and Game has started trapping steelhead - some of them bound for the Boise River - at the Oxbow Hatchery's fish trap.

Fish and Game hopes to deliver the first load of about 330 hatchery fish Thursday afternoon, November 8, to the Boise River between the Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park.

Subsequent deliveries are expected on November 15 and 20 for a total of about 1,000 fish. If the steelhead cooperate - first Fish and Game needs to trap 500 fish for hatchery operations.

Anglers hoping to catch one of these four- to 10-pound beauties, will need a 2007 fishing license and a $12.75 steelhead permit. Barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin - the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin. Anglers who catch a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches without an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead.

Boise River anglers with a valid permit may take three steelhead per day and have nine in possession. Any steelhead taken in the Boise River counts in the angler's fall season limit of 20 fish. Anglers without a steelhead permit must immediately release any steelhead caught.

The fish are A-run hatchery steelhead, returning to the Idaho Power Co.'s Oxbow Hatchery fish trap - operated by Fish and Game - on the Snake River at the base of Hells Canyon Dam.

Many of the returning steelhead will become part of the ongoing steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery as mitigation for the effects on salmon and steelhead of Idaho Power's Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams.

For information about the Boise River steelhead release, contact Fish and Game in Nampa at 465-8465 or the Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Youth Duck Hunt Planned for Hagerman WMA

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is planning a special, limited duck hunting opportunity for youth hunters at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area in November.

The hunts will occur on six days in November before the arrival of most migratory waterfowl. Two or three youth hunters will be assigned to the two blinds that would be constructed on the wildlife management area. Each hunter would be required to have an adult mentor approved or provided by the department.

The lucky 24 to 36 youth hunters have been selected at random from the region's 2007 hunter education graduates. The hunts are planned for November 7, 10, 11, 14, 17 and 18.

So far, eight mentors have volunteered to help. Fish and Game is prepared to offer shotgun shooting lessons to the youths before the hunt, should it be necessary.

The Hagerman Wildlife Management Area was acquired in 1951 to provide habitat for waterfowl in the Magic Valley. The area ponds and wetlands provide a sanctuary for more than 50,000 ducks and geese each winter.

In the early 1980s, the wildlife management area was closed to hunting because of the deposition of lead shot and its toxicity to waterfowl and for poor hunter ethics.

Lead shot became illegal to use for waterfowl hunting in the mid-1980s and is no longer a concern. Hunter problems are being resolved by the limited number of people that will be eligible to hunt the area.

For more information or to comment contact the Fish and Game Magic Valley office at 208-324-4350.

Fish and Game Commission to Meet in Sandpoint

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission's quarterly meeting will be November 13-15 in Sandpoint.

Commissioners will tour the site of the Chimney fire on Craig Mountain near Lewiston on the morning of November 13. They plan to meet in an executive session at 5 p.m. at the Clearwater Regional office in Lewiston.

Wednesday, November 14, they will tour Farragut State Park on their way to Sandpoint. At 7 p.m. they will conduct a public comment period in the Bonner County Wildlife Building, 4203 North Boyer St., Sandpoint.

The commission meeting will convene at 8 a.m. Thursday, November 15, in the East Bonner County Library, 1407 West Cedar, Sandpoint. Commissioners are expected to consider fishing rules for 2008 and 2009, nonresident deer and elk tag quotas and the outfitter tag set-aside.

After lunch they will hear updates on Fish and Game's mule deer plan, wolf plan survey and information, and Farragut shooting range.

Commissioners also will elect a new commission chairman and adopt a meeting calendar for 2008.

Times on the agenda are approximate and subject to change.

Volunteers Needed to Collect Sagebrush Seed

The Idaho departments of Agriculture and Fish and Game are looking for volunteers this fall to help gather sagebrush seed for rehabilitating rangeland burned this year.

In Southwestern Idaho up to 80 volunteers are needed on each day - November 17, and December 1, 8 and 15.

The Magic Valley region also will need up to 60 volunteers on each of four Saturdays - November 10 and 17 and December 1 and 8.

The Murphy Fire this summer burned more than 650,000 acres of sagebrush steppe in southern Idaho and northern Nevada.

This part of Idaho and Nevada is one of the few remaining places with large areas of unfragmented sagebrush habitat. Of 75 sage-grouse leks within the fire perimeter, 39 were known to be active in the past five years. Reseeding the burned area will speed the return of suitable habitat for sage-grouse and other wildlife dependant on sagebrush.

Officials plan to spread locally collected sagebrush seed on more than 22,000 acres of burned sage-grouse nesting and wintering habitat during fall 2007 and spring 2008. In addition, plans include planting a mixture of native and nonnative grasses and forbs spread on more than 8,000 acres, and bitterbrush on more than 1,200 acres.

To sign up or for information, contact Fish and Game at 208-327-7095 in the Southwest Region and 208-324-4359 in the Magic Valley Region.

Sturgeon Arrive in Idaho Falls after 150 million Years

It only took about 150 million years, but the white sturgeon has finally arrived in the Snake River in downtown Idaho Falls.

White sturgeon are native to parts of the Snake River in Idaho, but Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls proved too great a barrier. With a boost from the Snake River Sturgeon Cooperative - which includes the College of Southern Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Idaho Aquaculture Association - the great fish finally reached Idaho Falls Tuesday, October 23.

A Fish and Game hatchery truck hauled 74 white sturgeon from the CSI hatchery to the stretch of the Snake River that runs through the center of Idaho Falls.

Within their natural distribution in Idaho, Snake River white sturgeon, once considered a species of special concern, are classified as game fish. Strict catch-and-release rules the past 36 years have helped increase wild populations in longer river reaches, and hatchery sturgeon have been used to boost populations in other shorter reaches.

"We go through a pretty rigorous process any time we introduce a new species outside their native range," Upper Snake Regional Fish Manager Jim Fredericks said. "We had to insure that introducing the white sturgeon would not negatively impact existing fish populations, habitat conditions and even microscopic invertebrates."

Similar introduction efforts, begun in 1990, on the Snake River below American Falls have proven successful.

"Sturgeon are large-tackle fish, and we're excited about being able to offer this type of recreational fishing opportunity," Fredericks said.

All sturgeon fishing in Idaho is strictly catch-and-release, with barbless hooks required. Because of the unique body structure lacking a skeleton for support, it is illegal to even lift a sturgeon from the water.

The 74 fish brought to Idaho Falls ranged in age from 3 to 7 years old and were 18 inches to 3 feet long.

Ask Fish and Game: Record Game

Q. I think I may have shot a record mule deer. What do I do now?

A. Contact the Communications bureau at headquarters in Boise at 334-3700. A Boone & Crockett or Pope and Young scoring form with the name and phone number of a local measurer will be sent to you. The skull and antlers must air dry at least 60 days before being measured. After it has dried for 60 days, contact the measurer for the official scoring. You may also request measuring information from our website at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Mule Deer Hunters Enjoy Success

Mule deer hunters in southern Idaho enjoyed a 24-percent harvest success for the opening weekend of the general hunting season, Idaho Department of Fish and Game check station data show.

In the Magic Valley Region, game management unit 43 had the highest success rate for general buck hunts - 390 hunters checked took 88 bucks for 22.6-percent success. Success rates were closer to 17 percent in units 48 and 49.

"Overall I felt the opening weekend of deer season was successful," said Regan Berkley, regional wildlife biologist. "The weather was not as hot and dry as we've had the last several years, and hunters were seeing lots of deer. At all the check stations we checked some nice bucks and talked to a lot of happy hunters."

Hunter success was lower in controlled hunts in the Magic Valley Region. Heavy snow in the mountains and lots of rain in the valleys dampened the weekend hunt. For units 44, 45, 52, 54, and 55, hunters had an 18.3-percent success rate, a decrease of 10 percent from 2006.

Hunter success was very high in controlled antlerless hunts. Hunters in units 43, 48, and 49 boasted a 58.9-percent success rate, while either-sex youth hunters were 31 percent successful.

"During the past several years, fawn survival has been high, resulting in increased deer populations in most Magic Valley units," Berkley said. "With the good hunting conditions we're having this year; hunters are able to reap the benefits of the increase in populations."

Pheasant Season Open

The regular pheasant season now is open for all licensed hunters statewide.

The season in Areas 1 and 3 runs through December 31, and in Area 2 it runs through November 30.

Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, except on the Fort Boise, C.J. Strike, Montour and Payette River wildlife management areas where shooting hours are from 10 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset.

The daily bag limit is three cocks, and the possession limit is six after the first day, except on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked, where the daily limit is two cocks and four in possession.

Hunters need a wildlife management area upland game bird permit - formerly a pheasant permit - to hunt on the nine Idaho Fish and Game wildlife management areas where pheasants are released, including the Fort Boise, C.J. Strike, Payette River, Montour, Sterling, Market Lake, Mud Lake, Cartier Slough and Niagara Springs wildlife management areas.

The new law that went into effect July 1 expands the scope of the wildlife management area pheasant permit to include other stocked upland game birds.

All pheasant hunters are required to wear hunter orange on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. And all hunters must have a valid 2007 Idaho hunting license.

For more information, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/pheasant.

Fish and Game Seeks Info on Poached Elk

A poacher or poachers killed a bull elk Sunday evening, October 14, or Monday, October 15, between the Rock Creek Road and the Jenkins Creek Road near Weiser.

The poachers only took the head, the antlers, and the cape.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is looking for any information that will lead to the conviction of the person or persons who killed the elk and left all but the head.

The elk was discovered by a landowner who reported it to Fish and Game.

Some evidence was collected at the scene, but anyone in the area is encouraged to call the Nampa Fish and Game office at 208-465-8465, the Citizens Against Poaching hotline 1-800-632-5999 or the Washington County Sheriff's office at 208-414-2121 and ask for Mark Sands.

Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

A Hundred Years of Hatcheries on Display

In 1907 the first state-owned fish hatchery opened its doors at Hay Spur in central Idaho to produce trout for nearby waters.

Today the state has 21 hatcheries and a rich history of producing fish for anglers all over the state.

A museum exhibit, "A Century of Hatcheries," opens Wednesday, October 24, at the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello. The display showcases hatchery and fish stocking operations, an important part of the history of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"It's who we are," said Sharon Clark of the Fish and Game fisheries bureau. "The Department of Fish and Game is such a unique agency anyway."

The museum exhibit evolved from a small display of artifacts put together by Fish and Game employee Mick Hoover to decorate the "feed room" of the Mackay Fish Hatchery, north of Arco. Among those treasures was an old postcard featuring a pack string of horses and mules hauling milk cans full of tiny fish to Idaho alpine lakes. This inspired Hoover to put out a call to other hatcheries in search of one of those antique milk cans.

He never uncovered any of the milk cans, but he did find a wealth of history - artifacts, documents, photos and memoirs - that evolved into the exhibit on display this month.

The exhibit has already been on display at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls in 2006 and at the Idaho Historical Museum in Boise earlier this year.

Also featured in the Fish and Game display is historical aquaculture equipment, designed and built out of necessity at the fish hatcheries. The collection of equipment and historical photographs chronicle 100-year-old techniques for spawning and egg collecting, egg care until hatching, transporting fish eggs, fish feeding and diet development, and the eventual planting of mature fish via horseback, backpack, truck, boat, airplane and helicopter.

Wolf Report: Guide Kills Wolf

On September 25, an Idaho hunting guide in the upper Lochsa River in the Clearwater Region killed a wolf he said was harassing his stock in camp.

The incident is under investigation.

Under federal law, licensed outfitters who use livestock to operate their business on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and have a valid permit, may protect livestock on federal public lands. They may, without prior approval, kill a wolf in the act of attacking their livestock.

The outfitter, however, must provide evidence that his animals were attacked, and the incident must be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 24 hours.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, October 12, confirmed that wolves killed five ewes on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment on Horse Heaven Creek, northeast of Idaho City.

Because of the number of deer hunters in the area, however, no traps were set.

On October 7, Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves killed a calf on private land just west of Sheridan Reservoir, east of Kilgore. Traps have been set with the intention of killing up to two uncollared wolves.

On October 10, Wildlife Services could not find enough evidence to confirm a report that a wolf had attacked and injured a guard dog and killed a ram and a ewe on a Sawtooth National Forest grazing allotment on Bluff Creek near Fairfield. The investigator determined it a probable wolf kill.

In Idaho, the mid-year wolf 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, 36 cows and 150 sheep have been confirmed as wolf kills, and 40 wolves have been killed. In 2006, 29 cows and 205 sheep were confirmed wolf kills and 45 wolves were killed.

Ask Fish and Game: Hunter Orange

Q. Am I always supposed to wear hunter orange while hunting?

A. It is recommended that all upland and big game hunters wear hunter orange whenever they are hunting. Though the statewide hunting accident rate is low, more than 70 percent of recorded incidents are visually-related. Hunter orange, however, is required by Idaho Fish and Game only when hunting upland game on the nine wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked: Fort Boise, C.J. Strike, Payette River, Montour, Sterling, Market Lake, Mud Lake, Cartier Slough and Niagara Springs WMAs. Waterfowl and turkey hunters are not required to wear hunter orange.