by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer Question: "Now that the waterfowl and upland bird seasons are closed, what's left for an avid hunter and angler to do?" Answer: There are still numerous hunting and fishing oriented opportunities open to the avid hunting and angler. I first would remind everyone to make sure they first purchase their 2008 hunting, fishing, or combination hunting/fishing license. For the angler, the Magic Valley supports some excellent ice fishing opportunities. Salmon Falls and Magic Reservoirs offer excellent opportunities for trout and yellow perch. In addition, trout fishing through the ice at Dierkes Lake is a stones throw from Twin Falls. For anglers that don't normally eat their catch, fresh caught yellow perch through the ice just seem to "taste better." As temperatures fluctuate anglers must use caution around the edges of the reservoirs since they are filling with water. It is likely anglers could encounter some water over the ice around the edges of the reservoirs. For the avid hunter there are still several hunting seasons open. Small game hunters will enjoy the cat-and-mouse style of stalking cottontail rabbits. In winter, cottontails tend to be close to escape cover such as rock piles or heavy brush. When hunting in areas where pygmy rabbits exist, hunters must be sure of their target since pygmy rabbits are protected. Rabbit hunting is an excellent opportunity to experience the outdoors with a young hunter, and it brings back many memorable childhood hunting experiences with my dad.
Have you ever wondered how scientists count fish? If you're angling for some fascinating answers, head over to the Salmon Regional Fish and Game office at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 12. It's "Not Just Another Fish Story" when Tom Curet, regional fishery manager, takes you on a real world journey from river bottoms to overhead flights. You're invited to check out the techniques, equipment and data used by fisheries biologists to determine the "reel" truth about local fish. The Fish and Game office is at 99 Hwy 93 North. For more information about this public presentation call 208-756-2271. Individuals with disabilities may contact the Fish and Game office at 208-756-2271 or the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD) to request meeting accommodations.
by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer Question: "I just read a discouraging summery about hunting and fishing trends in the U.S. on the internet. What is the Fish and Game doing to increase recruitment and generate interest in hunting and fishing?" Answer: You are referring to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2006 National Survey on Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife Recreation. A brief summary of the report reveals approximately 5 percent of the general U.S. population over 16 years of age enjoy hunting. However, this represents an overall decline by 4 percent between 2001 and 2006. The largest declines were in migratory bird hunting (-22 percent) and small animal hunting (-12percent). The number of big game hunters declined by 2 percent. Montana had the highest rate of hunting (19 percent) participation as a percentage of their population. Idaho is at approximately 10 percent. States tied with the lowest percentage of hunting participation (1 percent) included California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Twelve and one-half million (12.5 million) hunters spent $22.7 billion to support their hunting activities in 2006. While hunters represent a minority of all recreationists, they spend an average of $1,814 annually. About two-thirds (63 percent) of all wildlife-related recreation expenditures has been for hunting and/or fishing. As expected, hunting recruitment in youngsters is low, especially in urban areas and in single parent homes with no male parent who hunts. These trends away from outdoor recreation cut across the entire spectrum of activities from hunting to wildlife watching. It's no secret Americans are working longer hours and have less free time to pursue outdoor recreation.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is looking for landowners interested in providing access for hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities in the Magic Valley Region. Access Yes! is in its fifth year and continues to gain popularity with landowners and sportsmen. The program compensates private landowners who provide public access to or through their property. Landowners can include stipulations such as the number of sportsmen per day, vehicle restrictions, or the period of time that access will be allowed. "Compensation can come in the form of direct monetary payments, habitat improvement projects, and access development projects, but other types of compensation or assistance are considered," said Brad Lowe, landowner-sportsmen coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. "The program also provides signs to landowners to help inform the public about access conditions or permission requirements." Time is running out to submit a bid for the 2008 season. Interested landowners need to submit bids before February 15 to Brad Lowe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 319 South 417 East, Jerome, ID 83338. In 2007 the average compensation was $1 per acre, with the low bid being 34 cents. For bid applications go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/accessyesguide.aspx or call Brad Lowe at 208-324-4359.
As of Tuesday, January 22, the female portion of the mountain lion hunting season in hunt unit 39 has been closed by order of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "Either sex lion hunting in this unit was scheduled to remain open until March 31, or until 10 female lions were harvested, whichever came first," Fish and Game regional wildlife manager Jon Rachael said. "This unit has reached the quota of ten female lions; hunters may now harvest only male lions in this unit." The male lion season remains open through March 31. Mountain lion hunting rules require successful hunters to bring the skull and hide with evidence of sex attached to any Fish and Game conservation officer or Fish and Game regional office within ten days of the kill for tagging.
The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts runs through February 25. Spring turkey seasons start April 15 - some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey controlled hunts go on sale April 1. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission this winter adopted several changes to turkey seasons. The changes include:
- Extending the Youth Turkey Season to run from the Saturday before April 15 through April 14. This year that means from Saturday, April 12, through Tuesday, April 14.
- Making youth-only controlled hunt turkey permits valid during the Youth Turkey Season prior to April 15.
- Increasing controlled hunt turkey permits for hunt areas 938-2, 950, 954, 971 and 936B.
- Creating fall controlled turkey hunts for hunt areas 971 and 950.
- Closing the fall hunt in that portion of Payette County in Unit 32.
- Extending the $5 special turkey tag to be valid for all turkey depredation hunts, and eliminating controlled turkey depredation tags.
For more than 100 years, Idaho has raised trout for anglers in hatcheries. Now, teachers are learning how to raise trout in the classroom. Idaho Fish and Game will be offering "WILD About Trout in the Classroom," a workshop designed for educators to learn about raising fish in a classroom aquarium with their students. The workshop, on February 1 and 2, will detail tank set-up and operation, fish biology and ecology. The workshop will be at the Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University in Pocatello and will include a tour of the "Century of Fish Hatcheries" exhibit and a tour of the American Falls Hatchery. In 1907, the first state-owned hatchery opened its doors at Hay Spur in central Idaho to produce trout for nearby waters, triggering a rich history of producing fish for anglers all over the state. The display features a wealth of history - artifacts, documents, photos and memoirs. For more information on the museum go to: http://imnh.isu.edu/ Workshop participants will receive a full curriculum guide packed with various innovative activities tied to aquatic education. These activities have applications in science, math, art, language, and reading. The registration fee for this workshop is $20. As an option, participants can attend the workshop for college credit at an additional cost. An outside assignment will be required for those who are taking the workshop for credit. The workshop will run from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, February 1, and continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 2. To register for WILD About Trout in the Classroom, please contact the Fish and Game office in Pocatello at 208-232-4703 or register by clicking on the "Trout in the Classroom" link from this page: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/education/project_wild/. Please see our video feature story here: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/news/video/education/hatchmuseum/vid1_18_08.cfm.
Another Idaho wolf has wandered into eastern Oregon - this one a radio-collared female wolf from the Timberline Pack. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists just found the two- to three-year-old wolf in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The biologists had received reports of wolf activity in that area and were searching for missing wolf radio-collars from Idaho. Idaho Fish and Game biologists had put a radio-collar on the wolf - identified as B-300 - northeast of Boise in August 2006. Oregon biologists observed only a single wolf. But it was the fifth confirmed wolf to be found in Oregon. In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured near John Day and returned to Idaho. In 2000, a collared wolf was found dead along Interstate 84 south of Baker City, and a wolf without a radio collar was found shot between Ukiah and Pendleton. In July 2007, a mature female wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound in Union County. All four wolves were from Idaho. Wolves in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and other parts of eastern Oregon and Washington are included in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its intention to remove this population from the endangered species list. A final rule is expected on February 29 and would take effect March 29. Wolves would remain on the list in the rest of the two states. In Idaho, four wolves from a pack that has killed at least two calves have been shot. This pack has been implicated in several depredations on cattle over the last few months. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services confirmed the Buffalo Ridge pack killed two calves in December on private land near Clayton. Aircrews killed three gray wolves in December. In January, they shot a fourth wolf from the pack along the East Fork of the Salmon River near Clayton.
Q. It's been about 90 days since I shot my big elk and now that the drying period is up, how do I get it measured by Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett? A. Any big game animal taken by archery would be measured by Pope and Young; animals taken by rifle or muzzleloader would be measured by the Boone and Crockett Club. Contact a representative from these clubs, or contact Fish and Game to find out who the contacts are. The Southeast Region has a scoring day set for March 13 in Pocatello. Call Fish and Game at 208-232-4703 for more information.
Landowners who provide access to or through their land for hunters and anglers are eligible to apply for Access Yes! funds. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game program will have more than $40,000 available to compensate landowners in the Salmon Region this year. Access Yes! improves hunter and angler access to or through private lands by compensating willing landowners. Landowners are also shielded from liability. Last year nine landowners in the Salmon Region participated in the program, receiving a combined total of $53,214. Access Yes! is a cooperative effort among the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Department of Agriculture, and the Idaho Fish and Game Advisory Committee. Landowner applications will be accepted until February 15. For more information or for bid applications, go to http://fishandgame.gov or contact the Salmon Region Fish and Game office at 756-2271.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday, January 17, put off action on a proposed mule deer management plan to allow more public comment, and commissioners heard a promising forecast on spring and summer Chinook salmon runs. Commissioners delayed action on the mule deer plan, which would guide mule deer management over the next decade, to add some clarification and to allow additional time for public review and comment on the final version of the plan. They expect to take action on the plan in March in time for setting this year's hunting seasons. The plan will be available for additional comment on the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.gov or at regional Fish and Game offices. The commissioners also heard good news-bad news about spring and summer Chinook salmon forecasts. Northwest salmon managers are forecasting the second largest hatchery fish run to return to Idaho. But a corresponding increase in wild salmon numbers is not expected. The forecast is for 97,700 Chinook salmon to cross the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in eastern Washington. It is the last of eight federal dams the salmon have to cross on their way back to Idaho. Fish managers are expecting 83,550 hatchery fish and 14,150 wild fish to return. The anticipated hatchery return may mean salmon seasons opening as early as April on sections of the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers. The largest hatchery salmon return was 141,000 fish in 2001. The commissioners also approved recommended changes to turkey, upland game and furbearer rules. Those changes include:
- Extending the Youth Pheasant Season from first Saturday in October through the following Friday.
- Revising wildlife management area pheasant program hunter-orange rule to include a minimum size requirement of 36 square inches of visible hunter orange worn above the waist.
By Bruce Haak, Idaho Department of Fish and Game It was a head scratcher for sure. In late December, an Idaho Fish and Game employee shot the ring-necked pheasant featured here. The bird exhibited the tell-tale white neck ring, darkly colored head, red eye-ring and reddish neck coloring of a male, which can be harvested legally; the bird also exhibited traits characteristic of a pheasant hen. The bird was uniformly mottled brown from the shoulders down, and lacked spurs normally associated with pheasant roosters. It also lacked the long, flashy tail feathers of a male. Upon closer, internal inspection, however, the bird was found to have both male and female sex organs. The result was that the bird exhibited both male and female pheasant sexual characteristics. It's not known just how often such genetic mix-ups occur in the pheasant world. But such occurrences are likely rare for this, one of North America's most celebrated game birds. Pheasants were initially brought to North America from China around 1890 by Judge O. O. Denny in western Oregon. From these humble beginnings, pheasant populations spread throughout most of the United States. Their success as an introduced game bird comes from their ability to adapt to man-made habitats and to thrive in agricultural environments, especially where cereal grains are produced. Pheasants have provided hunting opportunities for many generations of American shotgun enthusiasts. While partridges breed in pairs, male pheasants will breed with more than one female. The males are brightly colored, presumably to attract the attention of the females. In contrast, the females are mottled brown. Because females incubate and rear the young, being well camouflaged helps them avoid the attention of potential predators, especially while sitting on nests continuously for several weeks.
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