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.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, January 16, dropped the requirement for an external pivoting hammer from the rules on muzzleloader-only seasons. In January 2007, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted new equipment rules for muzzleloader-only hunts. Nearly 4,000 hunters commented during 2006 on the original proposals with roughly equal numbers supporting and opposing the proposed rule changes. While many traditional muzzleloader hunters support the new rules, many others, including modern muzzleloader hunters, did not. The most controversial rule change was been the requirement for a pivoting hammer, functionally prohibiting the use of many in-line muzzleloaders in muzzleloader-only hunts. Additionally, the pivoting hammer requirement has been confusing to many hunters, generating numerous requests to Fish and Game to clarify whether individual muzzleloaders are legal to use. In-line muzzleloaders have no ballistic, or overall range, advantage over "side-lock" muzzleloaders. Thursday's action allows most in-line muzzleloaders back into muzzleloader-only hunts. Other rules for muzzleloaders, including the requirements for loose power, exposed percussion cap ignition, all-lead (no sabots) bullets, remain in effect.
Three adult female elk and two calves were found dead the second week of January at a private feed site near the Golden Eagle subdivision in Timber Gulch north of Hailey. A veterinary examination found the five elk died of a bacteriological infection. The animals showed no evidence of trauma, and were otherwise in good body condition when they died. Idaho Department of Fish and Game personnel retrieved the three unscavenged female elk carcasses for examination by wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew. Samples showed the elk died from clostridial bacteria infections. This is the second time elk have died from clostridial infection at this feed site; in January 2006 an otherwise healthy female elk was found dead in the same location. Clostridial bacteria are commonly found in soil and the intestinal tract of animals, especially ruminants such as elk, deer and domestic livestock. In areas where animals are concentrated, soil disturbance and fecal contamination can lead to higher levels of exposure to these bacteria. With stress, sudden feed changes or ingestion of large quantities of feed, anaerobic conditions can develop in the gastro-intestinal tract or other tissues that can allow the clostridial organisms to overgrow or invade tissue and produce toxins, which can cause acute deaths. Feed sites can create conditions that enhance proliferation and transmission of bacteria and other disease agents among animals which are feeding and defecating in close proximity with one another. Drew's recommendations to prevent further problems at the feed site could include discontinuing feeding, changing feeding locations at the site on a regular basis, and spreading the feed over a long enough distance that all animals present can feed at the same time. Fish and Game personnel have relayed this information to the operators of this feed site.
Beginning January 24, and continuing each Thursday until the end of the 2008 Legislative session, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will convene in a conference call at 8 a.m. MST. Commissioners will discuss legislation of interest to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the Director's office at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game directly at 208 334-5159 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).
By Cal Groen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game The Idaho Fish and Game wolf management plan aims to maintain the gray wolf's place on the Idaho landscape. The plan is meant to manage wolves as other big game species are managed successfully in this state. One part of that success, once wolves are removed from the list of endangered species, will be to maintain Idaho's control of the wolf population rather than allow it to fall to a point that places wolves back onto the federal list and under federal management. Long experience teaches us that wildlife cannot be managed too close to a strict line. We do not do that with elk herds, where hunters typically take around 15 percent annually of a species with a natural reproduction rate of more than 25 percent. Hunting is one of the primary management tools available to Fish and Game. Through effective management, healthy deer and elk herds in most of Idaho have supported wolf recovery well beyond levels specified by the federal government. Fish and Game will apply the same professional wildlife management practices to wolves as those applied to elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, black bears, and mountain lions; all of which have recovered from critically low populations during the early 1900s. What we can do, and fully intend to do, is monitor wolf populations intensively through hard work and solid science. If our work shows that, for whatever reasons, wolf numbers appear to be sliding toward a precipice, action will be taken to stop that slide. The key is using science to adapt our management to actual conditions at ground level.
It's not too early to enter for a chance at the hunt of a lifetime in this year's Super Hunt drawings. Super Hunt is a fund-raising drawing for big game tags. It is split into two drawings. Tickets for the first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Fish and Game headquarters by May 30 with the drawing set for June 16. Tickets will be drawn for eight elk, eight deer, and eight antelope hunts as well as one moose hunt. Winners can hunt that species in any open season - but must abide by the rules of that hunt. One "Super Hunt Combo" ticket will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one elk, one deer, one antelope, and one moose. A second drawing will be August 15 when another "Super Hunt Combo" and tickets for two elk, two deer, two antelope and one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 1 through August 10. The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which compensates willing landowners who provide fishing and hunting access to or across private lands in Idaho. A single entry is $6.25. Tickets are available at license vendors, all Fish and Game offices, on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, and on the phone at 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685. Mail tickets or orders to: IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. Super Hunt Tickets:
- 1 Super Hunt ticket - $6.25
- 6 Super Hunt tickets - $24.95
- 13 Super Hunt tickets - $49.95
- 1 Super Hunt Combo - $19.95
- 6 Super Hunt Combos - $99.95
- 13 Super Hunt Combos - $199.95
By Arnie Brimmer, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Is it an alien space craft? Is it a new fangled hydropower generator? What is it for? These are some of the questions I hear about the rotary screw trap I operate on the Lemhi River to collect juvenile Chinook salmon on their way to the ocean. The trap looks like something straight out of a Jules Verne novel - imagine a stainless steel horizontal sugar cone without the scoop of ice cream. Holes in the "cone" allow most of the river water to pass through it. River water enters the front, wide part of the cone and pushes against an auger or "screw," which spins the trap. Water and any fish are pushed to the back of the trap, where a well holds the fish. While the trap is being operated, it is checked every day. It is a lot of work, but we do it to learn more about the life cycle and survival rates of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Lemhi River. The information we collect helps us manage this imperiled stock of fish better. Most of the juvenile salmon I catch are tagged with a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag and released alive back into the river to continue their migration to the ocean. PIT tags consist of a hollow glass capsule about the size of a grain of rice and contain a small computer chip with hundreds of feet of coiled copper wire. Each computer chip has a unique 10 digit code of letters and numbers imbedded in it - kind of like a fish's Social Security number. While this is an interesting piece of technology, by itself it really doesn't help us much. Enter the computer. With the addition of a computer, we are able to record the species, length and weight for each fish. The computer tells us whether a particular fish has been caught more than once - important information when making a population estimate.
The annual Bald Eagle Days, January 24-26, will feature viewing bald eagles and other wildlife along the Boise River. Bald Eagle Day, the signature event of the annual festivities, runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, January 26, at the Barber Park Environmental Education and Special Events Center, 4049 Eckert Road, Boise. This free, family-oriented event includes wildlife viewing along the Boise River with Audubon Society volunteers, presentations featuring live bald eagles and other birds of prey, hands-on educational raptor displays and presentations on falconry and Boise River ecology. Thursday and Friday, January 24 and 25, nearly 500 Treasure Valley students will visit Barber Park to learn about the Boise River and its importance to local wildlife. Live raptors and educational activities will foster awareness and a stewardship ethic for the river and its wildlife habitat during this educational event. Bald Eagle Days was organized nearly 10 years ago to celebrate the Barber Pool Conservation Area, which covers 700 acres on the Boise River, six miles east of downtown Boise. Comprising public and private lands, Barber Pool is one of the last remaining intact black cottonwood stands within the rapidly-urbanizing Boise area. The conservation area hosts some 200 species of birds, and more than 60 species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Bald eagles can be seen almost daily during the winter in the conservation area. Today, the event celebrates the entire Boise River and the resources it provides for Boise residents. Bald Eagle Days, which has been at the Shakespeare Festival Center for the past 10 years, was moved to Barber Park this year to accommodate a larger event. The event is presented by Boise State University's Idaho Bird Observatory in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Conservation League and the Golden Eagle Audubon Society.
Q. I have the new 2008 fishing regs but where is the new book on hunting rules? A. You will not have the new hunting rules book in hand until mid-April. The rules for 2008 will not be adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission until March, soon after which the book will go to print. The rules are not expected to be radically different this year, but some changes will be made. The 2007 book should be used only as a general guide. Remember, controlled hunt numbers change each year, so make sure you are using the 2008 book when you apply for those hunts in May.
by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer Question: "This summer some new folks moved into a house on property adjacent to an area I have permission to hunt. While I was duck hunting along the creek that divides the properties, the new folks became upset, screaming that I couldn't hunt there. I never shot onto their land. After the initial confrontation subsided they loitered in the area on their side of the creek, intentionally scaring away the ducks. Isn't there a law that prohibits someone from interfering with lawful hunting?" Answer: Yes, Idaho law prohibits intentional interference with lawful hunting; however, there are some protections for landowners on their own land. Since the interference is by the landowner on his property the answer to this dilemma is not "cut and dried." It's no secret there are many new residents moving to Idaho. As they move here from other areas they sometimes neglect to inform themselves of Idaho's laws. Many of Idaho's new residents come from urban areas and have very different ideas about hunting, fishing and trapping. Their differing views can create problems with traditional forms of recreation such as hunting. Idaho law states, No person shall: Intentionally interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife or lawful predator control; Or intentionally harass, bait, drive or disturb any animal for the purpose of disrupting lawful pursuit or taking thereof; Or damage or destroy in any way any lawful hunting blind with the intent to interfere with its usage for hunting. The law excludes incidental interference from other lawful activities or by landowners on their own property. In addition to criminal penalties such as a fine and incarceration in the county jail, persons damaged by the acts prohibited in this law are eligible to recover treble the damages and attorneys fees.
Wildlife managers at the Upper Snake Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are hoping that there is some truth to the old adage, "The early bird catches the worm." Biologists later this month will be experimenting with replacing the traditional evening public meetings with three informal sportsman's breakfasts across the region. "We've had success with such informal meetings in the past and thought they would be a good way to scope the sportsmen on what ideas they have for big game hunting in the future," Regional Wildlife Manager Daryl Meints said. Each meeting will be attended by various regional staff and will feature a short presentation tailored to highlight the big game hunting of the surrounding area. While the breakfast meeting will be hosted by Fish and Game, individual attendees will be responsible for picking up their own tab for breakfast. This switch in meeting times is another example of how Fish and Game is looking for new ways to inform the public and hear what people have to say. Plans are under way to record management presentations and have them posted somewhere on the Internet, like YouTube, so that a wider audience can find out what Fish and Game is working on. "While we'll try this informal approach for our scoping meetings, we'll probably go back to the traditional evening meeting format at the end of February, when we have some actual proposals that we will be bringing out to the public," Meints said. Big Game Breakfast Meeting Schedule - all start at 7 a.m. - Saturday, January 26, Frontier Pies, 460 W 4th S, Rexburg. - Tuesday, January 29, Hometown Kitchen, 1540 W. Broadway, Idaho Falls. - Friday, February 1, Amy Lou's Steakhouse, 503 W. Custer, Mackay.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be using helicopters for big game surveys in the Salmon Region through the middle of February. Flights will start in game management unit 36A for elk and mountain goat surveys. The survey crew will move north through units 36B, 28, 21 and 21A, counting and classifying elk. Flight dates and locations will vary depending on the weather. For more information, please call the Salmon Region's Fish and Game office at 208-756-2271.