Press Release

April 2008

Egin-Hamer Closure Opens at Sunrise May 1

Not only was this winter a reminder of what winters used to be like in the Upper Snake Region, but it has hung on longer than normal, delaying typical spring conditions vital to animal rejuvenation.

On May 1, the Bureau of Land Management will open the west end active dunes of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes to motorized travel. Because of snow pack and wildlife wintering at the sand dunes, the area west of Thunder Mountain had been closed to human entry.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game had been feeding more than 800 deer at the sand dunes. The extended closure has allowed much of the snow to melt and vegetation to start to grow for the deer, elk, and moose that wintered on the desert.

Because spring conditions have been so slow in coming, many animals are still weak and have not yet been able to totally move onto greenup.

"Things are still pretty tough out there," regional habitat biologist Josh Rydalch said. "Lots of animals are still down low and it is important that people not get too close and harass them."

May 1 also marks the new campground fee increase at Egin Lakes Access Recreation Site. The camp area has 48 developed sites with picnic tables and fire rings. Some of the sites have shelters and electricity hook-ups. The site also has potable water and an RV dump station for camping users.

The new fee will be $60 per night for 10 large group sites with electricity, $30 per night for 18 medium group sites with electricity and $25 per night for 20 medium and small group or family sites without electricity.

"Even though the active sand dunes are open to the public for motorized use, snow patches are still covering some of the north facing slopes of bigger dunes," said Bill Boggs, outdoor recreation planner for the Upper Snake BLM Field Office.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I have a pond on my property I would like to put trout in. Are there any rules about stocking my pond with fish?"

Answer: Yes there are. Idaho law in part states: "No person shall establish and maintain a private park or pond on premises owned or leased by him and obtain, possess, transport, propagate, and process for his own personal pleasure and use only fish approved by the commission, . . . in this state unless he has first obtained a permit from the director (of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game)."

Additional rules require private ponds to be "posted" in at least three locations. All water inlets and outflows must be screened to prevent fish from going into or out of the pond and the Department must approve all fish species. No private ponds will be authorized "in or across any natural stream bed, lake or water course containing wild fish."

The law requires you to license any pond on private property you want to stock with game fish. The pond cannot be part of a natural stream or lake and must be posted to prevent trespass. Some kind of barrier must be installed so your fish don't escape and wild fish can't get in. And lastly, you are only allowed to stock fish species approved by the Department.

In a licensed private pond, Idaho Fish and Game fishing rules no longer apply. The fish in the pond are private property and are subject to rules of the pond owner. Holding or raising fish in a private pond for monetary gain requires a different license. If the owner wishes to charge a fee for fishing, the pond should then be licensed with the Idaho Department of Agriculture as a commercial fish facility. Applications for private ponds require inspection by a Fish and Game representative to ensure compliance with the rules. Private pond permits are free of charge and last five years.

Going Green for Mule Deer

April 22 was Earth Day, and it seemed like the whole week was set aside to celebrate the environment and learn ways to better care for Mother Earth.

Whether you opened up a news paper, turned on the television, or visited a community celebration, common Earth Day themes centered on the concept of "Going Green."

Friday, April 25, about 56 students and three teachers from Soda Springs High School decided to "go green" for mule deer. They teamed up with a few folks from Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management to plant 1,300 mountain mahogany plants on some fire-scarred slopes in Ninety-Percent Canyon near Soda Springs.

Despite cooler weather, blowing winds, and occasional snow storms, the students scraped soil, augered holes, and planted the mahogany - all to help improve mule deer habitat on this valuable and critical winter range.

Before the planting event, Fish and Game employees visited the high school to talk about mule deer biology, habitat needs, and the efforts Fish and Game has taken to try to help improve mule deer populations. Fish and Game presented to students of Jeff Horsley and Charlie Kator, science teachers at Soda Springs High School, as well as students of Shawnae Somsen, PE and health teacher.

Horsley was excited about incorporating such a presentation and worthwhile activity into this year's science curriculum.

"Activities like this expose students to a potential career path and help them take ownership of the wildlife resource," he said.

Somsen also saw great value in the exposure her students were getting.

"This gives them a chance to be involved in their own community while doing something that is physically active. We live in a recreational paradise, and we all need to take ownership in preserving it as well as enjoying it," Somsen said.

Idaho Woodcarvers Guild Annual Exhibition

The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center will host the annual Idaho Woodcarvers Guild show from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4.

The Nature Center is located behind the Idaho Fish and Game office at 600 South Walnut St. in Boise.

The Guild and the Nature Center have teamed up to make this show accessible to woodcarvers and the public. The event will be open to the public free of charge.

A variety of work will be represented in the exhibit, including the traditional woodcarving categories of wild fowl, animal, fish, human figure and caricature. Northwestern American Indian art forms are a special feature.

The show will include carving demonstrations, contests and raffles.

Idaho has a strong tradition of woodcarving. The Idaho Woodcarvers Guild promotes the art through teaching and exhibitions. Membership includes youth and others who whittle for their own enjoyment, sculptors who use wood as their medium and professionals who have won blue ribbons at world-level carving competitions.

This exhibit will present the work of carvers at all skill levels from beginner to expert. For information contact Maggie Foreman at 208-469-9855 or gmforeman_5@msn.com; or Douglas Rose at 208-387-0492 or roseboise@yahoo.com.

Ask Fish and Game: Clearwater River Section

Q. In the 2008 Chinook rule brochure, the river location code lists Section 3 as the Clearwater River from the Railroad Bridge at Lewiston to the Cherry Lane Bridge, but the season description says I can fish upstream to the South Fork of the Clearwater. Can you clarify?

A. The river location code in the brochure is wrong. The lower Clearwater mainstem Section 03 is from the Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge upstream to the Orofino Bridge. Section 04 continues from the Orofino Bridge to the South Fork Clearwater River. You can fish for Chinook salmon in all of Section 03 and 04, from the Railroad Bridge to the South Fork Clearwater River.

Fishing the Little Salmon - 2008

By Evin Oneale, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Chinook salmon season veterans on Little Salmon River near Riggins fully understand the challenges of fishing the high-gradient flume and the almost zoo-like atmosphere that grips the area when the big fish begin their move upriver.

This year's snow pack, combined with a predicted robust run of hatchery salmon, is sure to heighten both the challenge and the atmosphere on the "Little River."

But as with most things, change has come to salmon fishing on the Little Salmon River.

Salmon seasons for the Main Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers were recently set by the Fish and Game Commission. Season dates are April 26 to June 22 on the Main Salmon River and April 26 to August 3 on the Little Salmon River - or until further notice. Daily bag and possession limits are three and nine fish respectively. Anglers possessing a valid fishing license and salmon permit may harvest 40 hatchery Chinook for the season.

In addition, anglers may keep two Chinook jacks per day, but they don't count toward the total daily limit adult Chinook.

Changes on the River

Expected high returns of hatchery salmon will undoubtedly bring out scores of eager salmon anglers. They will rake their gear in a pile and pinch the barbs on the salmon hooks in anticipation. But significant access changes await them along the most popular stretch of the Little Salmon River at the area affectionately known as the swinging bridge.

Perhaps most noticeable is the bridge's absence; it has been replaced with a new steel variety. Gone too is access to the east side of the river. When this property changed hands in 2003, the new owner continued to allow angling access to both sides of the river in the vicinity of the old swinging bridge.

Apply Early, Win Big Bucks

The application period for this fall's deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts starts Thursday, May 1, and runs through June 5.

But hunters who apply early not only avoid the last-minute rush, but they have a chance to win cash.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game's annual early application contest for 2008 for those controlled hunts will be handing out one $550 prize and one $450 prize to two lucky winners.

Hunters who get their applications in by May 12 will be eligible to win $550 in the May 15 drawing. Those who get their applications in by May 20 will be eligible to win $450 in the May 23 drawing. Applications in by May 12 also will be eligible for the May 23 drawing, except for the winner of the May 15 drawing.

Applications may be made by phone at 1-800-554-8685 or 1-800-824-3729, at Fish and Game offices, license vendors or on the Internet at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Others not applying for a controlled hunt may submit their name, age, address, and telephone number on a 3- by 5-inch piece of plain paper to: IDFG Early Application Contest, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

The drawing is funded by Outdoor Central and sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The drawing encourages hunters to apply early and helps avoid last-minute congestion on license vendor computer terminals.

Trophy Species Applications Due

Hunters have until Wednesday, April 30, to apply for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts.

Apply at Fish and Game offices or license vendors, or apply using a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Hunters may apply by phone at 1-800-554-8685; or on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/.

Applicants must have a valid 2008 Idaho hunting or combination license to apply for a controlled hunt. License fees will not be refunded.

For moose, goat and sheep hunt applications only, the entire application fee must be paid with the application. All but the $6.25 application fee will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including permit fee, costs $180.75; nonresidents pay $1,765.75. Unsuccessful resident applicants will receive a refund of $174.50; unsuccessful nonresident applicants will receive a refund of $1,759.50.

Applicants may designate $1 of their application fee be donated to Citizens Against Poaching.

Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30.

Hunters who apply for moose, goat and sheep may not apply for other controlled hunts in the same year except for unlimited controlled hunts, extra deer, elk or antelope hunts, controlled bear hunts or depredation hunts. Those who draw a moose, goat or sheep permit may not apply to hunt the same species for two years, even if they don't kill an animal.

Any person who has killed an antlered moose in Idaho may apply only for an antlerless moose permit. Any person who has killed an antlerless moose in Idaho may apply only for an antlered moose permit. Any person who has killed a mountain goat in Idaho since 1977 may not apply for a mountain goat permit.

Anyone who has killed a California bighorn or a Rocky Mountain bighorn may not apply again for the same type of sheep, but they may apply for the other subspecies.

Fish and Game Commission to Meet in Jerome

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet May 21-22 at the regional Idaho Fish and Game office in Jerome.

The two day meeting will include a tour of the Murphy Complex Fire and a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21 at 319 South 417 East in Jerome.

On Thursday, commissioners are expected to consider wolf hunting season and rules. They also are expected to consider Chinook fisheries on the South Fork Salmon River and Upper Salmon River.

Other topics on the agenda include sage grouse, bighorn sheep, hunter surveys and upcoming budgets.

Wolf Report: Hunting Seasons Considered

Deep and lingering snows are keeping wolves in lower elevations mostly along winter range later than usual this year, providing more opportunity for wolves to be in close proximity to cattle calving operations.

But this year may be the first time in Idaho history that a wolf hunting season will help control numbers in some areas.

Fish and Game biologists have set this schedule for wolf rule setting:

  • April 28 - Statewide recommendations were sent to regional offices.
  • April 30 through May 16 - Public review and comment period.
  • May 16 - Summaries of regional public comments, and final regional recommendations are due to headquarters.
  • May 21-22 - Idaho Fish and Game Commission scheduled to consider wolf hunting rules and seasons during meeting at Jerome Fish and Game office.

The number of wolf depredations has increased every year since reintroductions and the resultant wolf control actions under federal authority correlate to the increasing wolf population and wolf activity in areas with high wolf-livestock conflict potential.

Wolf control in April has gone from one depredation incident and no wolf control action in 2005 to 14 depredation incidents and nine wolves killed in 2008.

Many depredation incidents are occurring in areas without historically high levels of depredations, including Council-Cambridge area, Horseshoe Bend, Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, Ashton, Mountain Home and other locations on private ground far from core wolf areas.

From March 28 through April 24 officials recorded 17 wolf mortalities: nine kills authorized in livestock depredations, two illegal takes, three killed under state law, two vehicle collisions, and one natural death.

Meanwhile, 12 conservation groups Monday, April 28, sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Grant Supports Fish and Game Access Program

The future of hunting today depends on hunter access, hunting opportunities for current hunters and the recruitment of new hunters.

The Hunting Heritage Partnership says the "gateway" to securing America's hunting heritage is through today's state wildlife agencies. Idaho Fish and Game has been awarded $153,000 from the 2008 Hunting Heritage Partnerships Program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association.

"These grants were awarded on the strengths of the concepts presented to preserve our hunting traditions, by adding to the ranks of hunters and encouraging current hunters to continue their participation," foundation president Doug Painter said.

The grant to Idaho Fish and Game recognizes the agency for developing one of the nation's most promising ideas for recruiting and retaining hunters. The grant will help fund long term contracts with private landowners for Fish and Game's Access Yes! program, and it will help develop a Hunter Management System for Access Yes!

The Access Yes! program helps provide hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners.

So far this year, Fish and Game has secured agreements with 16 landowners for five year contracts. These leases open 90,500 private acres and make an additional 92,000 acres of public land accessible.

The Hunting Heritage Partnerships Program funds will allow Idaho's Access Yes! program to continue to grow and benefit landowners, wildlife habitat, and Idaho's hunters and anglers.

Migratory Bird Day Presentation at Sacajawea Center

In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, the Salmon Region Nongame Wildlife program is sponsoring a free public program on Thursday, May 8.

Fly on over to the Sacajawea Center's Meriwether Theater at 7:30 p.m. for a presentation by renowned Idaho ornithologist Chuck Trost tiitled "Marathon Migrants: The Shorebirds of Idaho."

Trost is professor emeritus of biology at Idaho State University, as well as curator emeritus at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. He will deliver a lively, informative talk on a group of bird species many of us know little about. Trost's enthusiasm and fascination with all things avian will make this a fun evening for the whole family.

There will be refreshments and free posters for participants.

Birders and would-be birders are also invited to join a 6:30 p.m. bird walk at the Sacajawea Center before the presentation.

Please call the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 756-2271 if you have any questions. Individuals with disabilities may call the same number or the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD) to request accommodations.