Press Release

June 2008

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I'm new to big game hunting in Idaho. As I read the 2008 big game hunting brochure special notes on some hunts denote a motorized vehicle restriction. What's this all about?"

Answer: For many hunters, the rules you have questions about are referred to as the "Off-road ATV hunting rules."

Several years ago the Department sought ways to improve opportunities for big game hunting. One of the issues that surfaced each year involved hunters and non-hunters using ATVs inappropriately.

The inappropriate uses included off-road bush-whacking into roadless areas dispersing game animals and causing resource damage and unauthorized road/trail development. Within the off-road 4-wheeler groups these roads or trails became known as "troads."

The impact of motorized vehicles on the distribution of big game animals is well documented in research in Idaho and the northwest. Motorized access by the general public to previously secure areas for wildlife has had a dramatic impact on animal distribution, population numbers, vulnerability to predation, and big game harvest. Some critical habitats for big game security, wintering, elk calving, and deer fawning are no longer useable and valued by wildlife because of the frequent disturbance by motorized recreationists and hunters.

Public input from hunters supported a Fish and Game rule to restrict off-road use of ATVs and other motorized vehicles when used while hunting.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted special rules about the off-road use of all motorized vehicles by hunters in specific big game units for big game and upland game hunting.

Bowhunter Education Course Offered in Ahsahka

Beginning archery hunters wanting to pursue game this year are encouraged to register for a bowhunter education course offered in Ahsahka on July 19 and 20.

This will be the final course offered in the Orofino-area before big game archery season begins.

The course will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 19 at Idaho Fish and Game's Clearwater Fish Hatchery, with the field exercise to run 8 a.m. to noon on July 20. The cost is $8.

Students can register for this course online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/education/hunter_ed. For more information, contact Dave Owsley at 208-476-3622 or Hubert Sims at 208-476-5377.

Idaho's bowhunter and hunter education courses are taught by volunteer instructors, with most courses offered between January and June. Beginning hunters are encouraged to register early in the year because the number of courses offered after June is limited by volunteer instructor availability.

Salmon Fishing: What's Open, What's Closed

Salmon Seasons: Open - Salmon fishing remains open on these rivers:

  • Upper Salmon River from the Highway 75 Bridge over the mainstem of the Salmon River at milepost 213.5 (about nine miles west of Clayton) upstream to the posted boundary about 100 yards downstream of the weir at Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley, until further notice or August 2, whichever comes first.
  • South Fork Salmon River from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 - Lick Creek/East Fork South Fork Road/ - where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River mainstem, just upstream from the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 33 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap, open until further notice.

Any waters not specifically open, are closed to Chinook salmon fishing.

Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. In the Lochsa River, salmon may only be taken with artificial flies and lures with one barbless hook per fly or lure - no bait. A single hook may have up to three points.

Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, local time. Limits for adult Chinook salmon on these rivers are two per day, six in possession and 40 for the season. Anglers may keep two jacks per day and have six in possession, but they do not count on the salmon limit.

When the adult limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch-and-release.

Anglers must have a valid fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. Please consult the 2008-2009 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure or a Fish and Game office for additional rules, license costs and other information.

Salmon Seasons: Closed - Salmon fishing is closed on these rivers:

Officials Look into Wolf Death, Nonlethal Controls

Idaho Fish and Game is investigating the death of a wolf shot northeast of Stanley.

Fish and Game biologist Jason Husseman retrieved the carcass of the wolf on June 16. As in all wolf shootings under state law, this incident is being investigated.

An ongoing collaborative effort to reduce conflicts between wolves and sheep in the Ketchum area relies on nonlethal methods including the use of fladry, penning at night and hazing with hired trained technicians. The efforts include the cooperation among several livestock producers, Fish and Game, U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services, U.S. Forest Service, Blaine County Commissioners, and Defenders of Wildlife.

Among other incidents, officials on June 24, found a 25-pound male and a 23-pound female wolf pup dead along Highway 21 near Lowman, apparently hit by a vehicle.

On June 24, Wildlife Services investigated a report that wolves attacked and injured some sheep on private land west of McCall. Wildlife Service determined one lamb was probably attacked by a wolf, but it appeared likely it should survive. This band of sheep has seven guard dogs, which may explain the few injuries.

No decision has yet been made in the May 28 Missoula court hearing on a preliminary injunction in a legal challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to delist gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

The injunction was sought by 12 environmental, conservation and animal rights groups, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The Idaho wolf update is available at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/wklyReport/weekly.cfm.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I saw a Fish & Game truck and several people out in the sagebrush holding large canvas baskets and beating shrubs with racquets. What on earth were they doing?"

Answer: You probably saw one of our native seed collection crews in action. Fish & Game volunteers collect seed from a variety of native plant species used to restore or enhance wildlife habitat in the Magic Valley.

Native plants species are an essential component of good wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, habitat is lost each year due to wildfires and other causes. When possible, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game in cooperation with other state and federal agencies, restore lost habitats by seeding or by planting seedlings of native species in critical areas.

In theory, locally collected native plant seed is best adapted to conditions and restoration sites; their parent plants having survived in the same climate and soil type. For that reason, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game enlisted volunteers to help collect plant seed.

In 2007, volunteers helped the Department collect over 60 pounds of seed from antelope bitterbrush, a critical forage shrub for wintering mule deer, antelope, elk, and bighorn sheep. Hopefully tens of thousands of seedlings will be produced from that seed, and those seedlings will be planted on Magic Valley mule deer winter ranges during the spring of 2009.

Last year's wildfires prompted a massive restoration effort. Governor Otter called upon Idahoans to help out with a large-scale seed collection effort. In the Magic Valley alone, 250 volunteers and Fish & Game staff collected over 100 pounds of sagebrush seed that was seeded by aircraft onto the Murphy Complex burn.

Ask Fish and Game: Fishing in Closed Waters

Q. With spring salmon season closed in the Clearwater, can I still fish catch-and-release for salmon?

A. You can't fish for salmon in areas closed to salmon fishing - not even catch-and-release. You can fish for other species that are open for fishing in waters that have salmon. But if you unintentionally hook a salmon it must be released immediately. If you fish with salmon gear in a closed area, conservation officers may think you are fishing for salmon and cite you for it.

Anderson Ponds open for fishing

Anglers anxiously awaiting the opening of the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area's four Anderson ponds, the Bass ponds, Big Bend Ditch, Goose Pond and the pond west of Highway 30 need wait no longer with it opening on July 1.

The late opening date of July 1 will protect nesting waterfowl on the WMA. The season closes October 31. The ponds are managed under the general fishing rules which include limits of six bass longer than 12 inches, six trout, and use of general fishing equipment.

Anglers can catch rainbow trout, bluegill, and the occasional channel catfish or white sturgeon. Fishermen are reminded that sturgeon can't be harvested and that they should be released immediately. Do not remove sturgeon from the water for photos or measuring.

Motors are not allowed on the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area, but anglers can use float tubes, pontoon boats, or other small water craft.

For more information on the fishing in the Magic Valley Region, call the Fish and Game Regional Office at 324-4359.

Controlled Hunt Drawing Results Online

Hunters who applied for elk, deer, antelope and bear controlled hunts can check online to see whether they were successful in the recent computerized drawing.

For controlled hunt drawing results go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/deab.cfm, and for controlled hunt odds, go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/odds.cfm.

Applicants can enter their hunting license numbers to find out instantly how they did in the drawing.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail by July 10. Winners must buy controlled hunt tags by August 1.

Any permits and tags not purchased by that date will be forfeit. After a second drawing, any left over permits and tags are sold over the counter.

Results of deer, elk, antelope and fall black bear controlled hunt drawings are available on the Fish and Game Website. Hunters can buy those permits and tags at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, by telephone at 800-554-8685 or 800-824-3729, or online at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/.

For information on rules and dates for specific hunts consult the regulations brochure or the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. And those lucky enough to draw can use Fish and Game's Hunt Planner on the Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner to plan those fall hunts.

Salmon Forecast Revised, Some Seasons to Close

Idaho Fish and Game salmon managers have revised projections of Chinook salmon returns to Idaho and determined that some salmon fishing seasons on the Little Salmon, North Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa rivers must close.

Salmon fishing will close at the end of fishing hours on Tuesday, July 1, on:

  • Little Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam
  • South Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red rivers.
  • Lochsa River from the mouth upstream to the Twin Bridges immediately upstream of the confluence of Colt Killed and Crooked Fork Creeks

Previous in-season estimates of Chinook salmon returns to Idaho hatcheries were based on detections of PIT tagged hatchery fish passing Bonneville Dam.

Subsequent detections of PIT tagged fish at Lower Granite Dam indicate that the survival rate of adults during passage from Bonneville Dam to Lower Granite Dam is lower in 2008 than in most years. Fewer Chinook will return to Idaho hatcheries than previously projected, and the shares of returns available for nontribal fisheries are also smaller. Based on these revised projections of Chinook salmon returns to Idaho fisheries, managers have determined that some fishing seasons must close.

Clearwater River: The Chinook salmon seasons on the North Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam, the South Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to the confluence of Red and Cooked rivers, and the Lochsa River from the mouth upstream to the confluence of Colt Killed and Crooked Fork creeks rivers will close at the end of fishing hours July 1.

Salmon Seasons Open on the Fourth of July Weekend

Though salmon fishing closes Tuesday on several river segments, two rivers will remain open over the Fourth of July weekend, providing a combined 63 miles of river open to salmon fishing.

Almost 30 miles of the Upper Salmon River is open for salmon fishing, a stretch that has not been open to recreational salmon fishing in 30 years.

This year 25 miles of the South Fork Salmon River that have not been open to recreational salmon fishing for 43 years are open for salmon fishing. In addition, the eight miles that have been open for recreational salmon fishing during open seasons since 1997 are again open this year.

Salmon fishing remains open over the Fourth of July weekend on the:

  • Upper Salmon River from the Highway 75 Bridge over the Salmon River at milepost 213.5 (about nine miles west of Clayton) upstream to the posted boundary about 100 yards downstream of the weir at Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley, until further notice or August 2, whichever comes first.
  • South Fork Salmon River from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 - Lick Creek/East Fork South Fork Road/ - where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River, just upstream from the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 33 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap, open until further notice.

Any waters not specifically open are closed to Chinook salmon fishing. Anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. A single hook may have up to three points.

Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, local time. Limits for adult Chinook salmon are two per day, six in possession and 40 for the season. Anglers may keep two jacks per day and have six in possession, but they do not count on the salmon limit.

Find Nearby Family Friendly Fishing Waters

Want to know good places to take a youngster fishing? Need directions on how to get there? What kind of fish will you find? Need some tips to make your first fishing trip a success?

Each of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's seven regions across the state has a brochure to answer your questions and get you and your family started on the road to fishing. Family Fishing Waters are great places to take the family fishing. They are easy to access and have plenty of fish to catch.

To find local Family Fishing Waters go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/family/

Family Fishing Waters are open year round with simplified rules to provide family-oriented fishing opportunities. These are 79 user-friendly waters, selected to provide a great fishing trip for families, children and first-time anglers.

The simplified rules include a limit of six trout and bass, no limit on other species or on length and standard fishing gear. For details on specific locations or your favorite fishing hole, check with local Fish and Game offices or the fishing brochure available free at license vendors, or visit the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Anglers, to avoid the last minute rush, don't forget to buy a fishing license before the Fourth of July weekend. A regular fishing license costs $25.75 and a junior license costs $13.75. Everyone age 14 or older must have fishing license.

Don't forget to ask permission to cross or fish from private land. And be careful of fast-moving waters - don't wade out into fast-moving water.

Commissioners to Meet In Post Falls in July

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in the conference room in the Cabela's store in Post Falls July 23-25.

A public comment period is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday July 23.

The commissioners will consider five proposed rule changes that would:

  • Eliminate evidence-of-sex requirement for meat being transported from a commercial meat processor.
  • Allow disabled archery hunters to use crossbows with nonmagnifying scopes having battery powered or tritium lighted reticles during archery-only hunting seasons.
  • Allow visually impaired hunters to use nonmagnifying scopes during muzzleloader-only hunts.
  • Allow holders of senior combination and disabled combination licenses to apply for, and participate in, leftover youth-only deer and elk controlled hunts.
  • Include bait containers in the current commission rules on black bear bait placement.

The proposed changes are posted on the Fish and Game Website - http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public - for public review and comment.

Comments must be submitted by July 14. Comments may also be submitted by mail to: Nonbiological Rules, IDFG, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Nonbiological rules include equipment restrictions, controlled hunt application and eligibility requirements, possession requirements and motorized vehicle use restrictions. They do not include seasons, bag limits, size limits, sex restrictions, or species restrictions.

Other items on the commission agenda include sage-grouse seasons, release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery, expenditure of Animal Damage Control funds, legislative proposals and migratory game birds discussions.