Press Release

March 2008

Fish and Game Seeks Volunteers in Magic Valley

Mule deer in the Magic Valley are getting a helping hand, and anyone can be part of the effort.

Bitterbrush planting will take place at various sites throughout the region on Saturdays from April 5 through April 19.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites area outdoor enthusiasts to participate in planting shrubs and seedlings on mule deer winter range throughout the region. The project is part of the department's Mule Deer Initiative, a statewide effort to improve habitat and boost deer populations.

"Bitterbrush is a preferred food source where it occurs on winter range," said Mark Fleming, regional wildlife habitat manager. "Fire has impacted much of our deer habitat. By planting seedlings, we're giving these areas a head start. Without our intervention, it could take a generation before we see bitterbrush begin to thrive again."

Fish and Game volunteers are a key component in its efforts to preserve fish and wildlife, Fleming said.

"When a person works on the landscape, they've made an investment in that landscape," said Ed Papenberg, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator. "People tend to protect their investments. We're planting seedlings, but we're also cultivating a community which values its natural resources."

"Besides, it's just plain fun," Papenberg said. "You get to spend time in beautiful country, and we provide a lunch to boot."

Each planting effort is an all-day affair including driving time, and participants need to prepare for any weather.

Anyone interested in joining should call Papenberg at 208-324-4359.

Deer Vulnerable in Spring Time

By Jennifer Jackson, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Spring is here - at least according to the calendar, and in some areas of southeast Idaho the hillsides are baring and shoots of grass pushing through the dirt.

One might think that wildlife, especially mule deer, have made it through another Idaho winter, but in fact spring holds its own set of challenges.

Right now mule deer are carrying the last of their fat reserves on their bodies. Those fat reserves have been critical to helping wildlife get through the winter months - providing insulation and energy for battling cold weather and deep snows.

Some areas of the region still have significant snow on the ground with winter-like conditions. So animals are still burning considerable energy to get themselves through these final weeks before real spring weather and abundant vegetation arrive. This scenario is especially hard on the fawns, and it is common to see a sharp drop in fawn survival in the spring.

There are many situations that contribute to how mule deer use their last of the fat reserves this time of year, which ultimately affects survival.

Of course, weather plays a role. Spring snow storms and prolonged cold weather can sometimes have deadly consequences for animals, but there are other factors.

People getting out to hunt antlers or do some late season snowmobiling can cause wintering wildlife to move at a time when animals need to conserve their energy. Even those who want to snap that perfect picture of a feeding mule deer can cause unintentional harm.

Fish & Game News Available

A special issue of Idaho Fish & Game News focusing on predator management is available now at license vendors and Fish and Game offices statewide.

Copies of Idaho Fish & Game News are free to the public.

Ask Fish and Game: Turkey Controlled Hunts

Q. When can I get a left over turkey controlled hunt tag?

A. Sorry, there are no left over controlled hunt turkey permits. Some youth controlled turkey hunts begin Saturday April 12, and some adult turkey controlled hunts begin April 15 and others begin in May. The general youth turkey spring season runs from Saturday, April 12 through April 14. The general season opens April 15. Please see the 2008-2009 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure, available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors. Hunters must have a valid 2008 hunting license and a turkey tag, and a permit if they are participating in a controlled hunt.

Register for Hunter Education Classes Soon

Anyone planning on, or with a child planning on hunting for the first time this year, should sign up now for a hunter education class.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game Salmon Region has scheduled two hunter education classes in April.

The first will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 8, 9, 15, and 16 at the Fish and Game Regional office in Salmon, with a field day on April 19.

The Challis class will be from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. April 28, through May 1 and May 5 through May 8, at the high school. A field day is scheduled for the Challis Rod and Gun Club on May 9.

Students are asked to pre-register and pay in advance. Registration and payment may be made with a credit card at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/education. The Website lists all the available hunter education and bowhunter education classes throughout the state.

Participants may register and pay by cash, check, or debit card at the regional Fish and Game office, 99 Highway 93 North in Salmon. Challis students may also pay with cash or check at the first class.

For more information, call 208-756-2271.

Ice Plug Causes Fish Kill

An intake pipe plugged with ice early on Friday morning, March 28, resulted in the death of almost 200,000 young spring Chinook salmon at a Clearwater Fish Hatchery satellite facility on the Lochsa River.

The plugged intake pipe feeds the acclimation ponds at the Powell facility, holding spring Chinook smolts that were to be released into the Lochsa River later that same day. Smolts are juvenile salmon ready to begin their migration to the ocean.

The loss of 192,153 salmon smolts represents 46.2 percent of the spring Chinook smolt release from the Powell facility this spring. The rest of the young fish to be released from Powell already had left the pond by themselves during the last few days before the incident.

Hatcheries in the Clearwater basin produce about 4.4 million smolts annually.

About midnight of March 27, the temperature dropped below 20 degrees. In response to a precautionary alarm, a hatchery attendant checked the intake and cleared away slush ice but did not check it again until between 6 and 7 a.m.

In the interim, ice had blocked the intake, completely shutting off the flow of water to the acclimation pond.

Unusually cold weather led to the ice formation that plugged the intake pipe. Normal operations call for regular clearing ice from the intake during cold weather. But human error allowed the plugged pipe to go unnoticed long enough to result in the fish kill.

Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken, and Fish and Game has reviewed current operational protocol to reduce the possibility of this happening again.

Mule Deer Plan Increases Opportunities for Hunters

Hunters will see new controlled hunts in Southeast Region and dozens of new opportunities for hunters across the state for this year's big game seasons.

"This year we began implementing Idaho's new mule deer plan that provides direction to balance hunting opportunities with the desires of hunters," said Randy Smith, Magic Valley regional wildlife manger. "A couple of the changes weren't without controversy, but we think we've made a good start at improving mule deer hunting in southern Idaho. The new plan is about much more than hunting, and I encourage Idaho hunters to take a look at it and get involved in mule deer management issues."

General Season Mule Deer Hunt Changes

Hunters will see a few changes in general season hunting: Unit 22 will be changed to a two-point only season for the general any weapon and archery only hunts.

Unit 56 no longer has a two-point only restriction. Hunters will now be able to harvest any antlered deer from October 10 - 31.

Hunters will be able to enjoy a new short-range weapon hunt in Unit 63. For adults it will be antlered only with youth able to hunt either sex from October 10 - 31.

New Controlled Hunts

Hunters will see some big changes to controlled hunts this season. This should result in more opportunities for mature bucks.

Fish and Game Annual Auction to be in Salmon

You don't have to be a taxidermist to find a treasure at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's annual auction known as "The Fur Sale."

This year's auction of furs, hides, antlers, fishing poles, and other items will be on Saturday, May 3, in Salmon.

Fish and Game holds the auction in a different region of the state every spring. Most of the items up for auction include furs and hides that have been found, confiscated or seized by an Idaho court during the previous year.

Road-killed and other dead game animals in good condition that have been picked up by Fish and Game are also included in the sale.

Fish and Game conservation officers from the Panhandle to Pocatello will be cleaning out their evidence lockers and hauling seized items to Salmon over the next few weeks. A list of auction items will be available in mid-April.

The auction will be at the Salmon Region office at 99 Highway 93 North. Auction items can be previewed at 8 a.m. and the auction will be from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information, please call Dave Silcock at 208-756-2271.

Idaho Takes Over Wolf Management

Friday, March 28, Idaho took over management of gray wolves throughout the state.

Wolves north and south of Interstate 90 now will be managed as big game animals. But federal officials still play a part in wolf depredation issues.

"We are excited as managers to assume their management," said Cal Groen, director of Idaho Fish and Game. "The Commission and I thank staff, the Office of Species Conservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the many others who helped in this recovery effort."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's final rule removing wolves from the endangered species list includes wolves of the Northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a wolf management plan on March 6. State management plans, laws and protocols will govern wolf management in Idaho. No hunting seasons have been set.

Wolf hunting seasons and bag limits will be based on the Wolf Population Management Plan and developed over the next two months, then adopted by the Fish and Game Commission on May 22. The first wolf hunting season in Idaho will be planned for fall 2008. Rules are expected to be released in July.

In addition, the Legislature has update state law to allow people to kill wolves harassing or attacking their livestock and pets. The law does not require a permit from the Fish and Game director under these conditions, but the incident must be reported to the director within 72 hours.

In Idaho, wolf packs range from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Oregon border east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves occasionally have been reported in previously unoccupied areas.

Fish and Game Takes Over Wolf Management

Today, Friday, March 28, Idaho takes over management of gray wolves throughout the state.

Wolves north and south of Interstate 90 now will be managed as big game animals.

"We are excited as managers to assume their management," said Cal Groen, director of Idaho Fish and Game. "The Commission and I thank staff, the Office of Species Conservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the many others who helped in this recovery effort."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's final rule removing wolves from the endangered species list takes effect today. The rule includes wolves of the Northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted the wolf management plan on March 6. State management plans, laws and protocols will govern wolf management in Idaho.

Wolf hunting seasons and bag limits will be based on the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan and developed over the next two months, then adopted by the Fish and Game Commission on May 22. The first wolf hunting season in Idaho will be planned for fall 2008.

In addition, the Legislature has update state law to allow people to kill wolves harassing or attacking their livestock and pets. The law does not require a permit from the Fish and Game director under these conditions, but the incident must be reported to the director within 72 hours.

The wolf management plans and other related documents are available at the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

In Idaho, wolf packs range from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Oregon border east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves occasionally have been reported in previously unoccupied areas.

Ask Fish and Game: Controlled Hunt Applications

Q. When can I apply for a controlled big game hunt?

A. Fish and Game takes applications for moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep controlled hunts April 1 through April 30. Applications for elk, deer, pronghorn and fall black bear controlled hunts are accepted from May 1 through June 5. It's too late for spring bear and turkey controlled hunts - the drawings for those already are over.

Fish & Game Seeks Volunteers in Magic Valley

Mule deer in the Magic Valley are getting a helping hand, and anyone can be part of that effort.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites area outdoor enthusiasts to join in planting bitterbrush on mule deer winter range throughout the region. The project is part of the department's Mule Deer Initiative, a statewide effort to improve habitat and boost deer populations.

"Bitterbrush is a preferred food source where it occurs on winter range," said Mark Fleming, regional wildlife habitat manager. "Fire has impacted much of our deer habitat. By planting seedlings, we're giving these areas a head start. Without our intervention, it could take a generation before we see bitterbrush begin to thrive again."

Furthermore, for Fish and Game volunteers are a key component in its efforts to preserve fish and wildlife.

"When a person works on the landscape, they've made an investment in that landscape," said Ed Papenberg, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator. "People tend to protect their investments. We're planting seedlings, but we're also cultivating a community which values its natural resources."

"Besides, it's just plain fun," Papenberg said. "You get to spend time in beautiful country, and we provide a lunch to boot."

Each planting effort is an all-day affair including driving time, and participants need to prepare for any weather. Planting will take place at various sites on Saturdays from April 5 through April 19.

Anyone interested in joining should call Papenberg at 208-324-4359.