Press Release

July 2008

Grass-Gobbling Ground Squirrels

By Kelton Hatch, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Ground squirrels are rodents, just like mice, beavers, and porcupines, and there are more rodent species in the world than any other type of mammal. In fact, we have 45 different rodent species just in Idaho.

In the Pacific Northwest there are 19 different species of ground squirrels and 14 of these can be found in Idaho. Most ground squirrels species are difficult to tell apart without careful study. The most common species in the Magic Valley are the Piute ground squirrel and the yellow-bellied marmot or "rock chuck".

Ground squirrels can be seen active above ground for approximately four months each year. During this time they have their young and they eat a lot. For food, ground squirrels rely on lush green plants in the spring and early summer and fat-laden plant seeds later.

Ground squirrels do not typically drink water but rather get all their necessary moisture from green plants. Once most of the plants have dried up, ground squirrels retreat into hibernation. Eating seeds helps ground squirrels put on fat which they use to survive a long hibernation period.

Ground squirrels hibernate for approximately eight months each year (June-March). This long period of sleep is used to avoid the dry heat of the summer and then the cold of the winter. During this time they survive only on the fat supplies produced from the foods they ate during the summer months. Ground squirrels essentially have three full-time jobs: raise their young, get as fat as possible, and sleep a lot.

Many hibernating animals will drop their body temperatures to just 38 degrees Fahrenheit. (Remember, our body temperature is 98 degrees and water freezes at 32 degrees). Having a low body temperature slows all of the body processes down and allows hibernating animals to conserve their precious fat stores.

Salmon Fishing Ends Thursday Statewide

Chinook salmon fishing will end Thursday evening statewide for this year.

Idaho Fish and Game fish managers say anglers will have caught state's share of hatchery-origin adult Chinook salmon by the end of fishing - one hour after sunset local time - Thursday, July 17, on the South Fork Salmon River and on the Upper Salmon River.

The South Fork and Upper Salmon rivers will be closed to all nontribal salmon fishing, even catch-and-release. No other waters are open in Idaho to salmon fishing.

Ask Fish and Game: Buying Salmon

Q. Can I buy a Chinook salmon from a Nez Perce Tribal member even though the salmon sport fishery is closed?

A. Yes. In the Snake River Basin, a Nez Perce Tribal member may sell hatchery Chinook salmon only, as indicated by a missing adipose with healed scar. Nez Perce Tribal regulations require a receipt for all sales. Receipts must include name and identification number of Nez Perce Tribal member selling fish, name of the fish buyer, number and species of fish sold and where it was caught and the Nez Perce Tribe Conservation Enforcement phone number 208-843-7143. The buyer of salmon is required to have this valid receipt and present the fish and receipt for inspection when requested by a conservation officer or other authorized persons.

Redbird Access Area Closed for Improvements

The Redbird Access area on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston will be closed for improvements from July 14 through July 28.

Improvements include road approach safety and parking area expansion.

For more information on the Redbird access or other access areas in the Clearwater Region, contact the Lewiston Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010.

Salmon Fishing Open a Few More Days on South Fork

Chinook salmon fishing will remain open a little longer on the South Fork Salmon River - at least through Wednesday.

Idaho Fish and Game fish managers say there are enough of the state's share of hatchery-origin Chinook salmon coming up the South Fork to keep the fishery open through Wednesday, July 16. They will reevaluate the run size and harvest numbers Wednesday morning. Closure notice is likely to be as short as 24 hours.

South Fork Salmon River is open 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.

Limits for adult Chinook salmon on the South Fork Salmon River are two per day and six in possession. The statewide salmon limit is 40 per season. Anglers may keep two jacks per day and have six in possession, but they are not required to record the jacks on a salmon permit.

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

Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, local time. 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.

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, the Fish and Game Website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish or a Fish and Game office for additional rules, license costs and other information.

Campers and Hikers Advised to be Bear Aware

Families camping, boating and fishing at Lucky Peak Reservoir, just minutes up the Boise River from Idaho's capital, may not realize they have entered bear country, but they have.

A young black bear reportedly followed an 11-year-old boy down the dock as the boy was about to board a canoe earlier this month. The boy's parents scared off the bear by hitting the dock with their paddles. A bear answering the same description was later seen hanging around in a popular wooded camping area on the lake's shore, biting into at least one cooler and showing a preference for desserts and chips over hotdogs.

Young bears learning to make a living on their own often show more curiosity than fear toward humans and may make poor choices about areas where they are not tolerated. Bears that become accustomed to people and human foods are nearly always headed for a sad end. People do bears no favor by allowing them to develop dangerous habits.

Idaho Fish and Game reminds campers and hikers to be aware of bear etiquette in the woods. Campers and backpackers should be careful storing their food to avoid attracting black bears. If it smells good to you, it smells good to a bear too.

Tips for around camp include:

Don't Let West Nile Virus Keep You Indoors

The first signs of West Nile virus have shown up in Idaho.

But the presence of West Nile virus is no reason to stop enjoying Idaho's great outdoors. Only a fraction of the mosquito population carries the virus, and only a few people who get bitten and infected get sick. Officials encourage people to take a few simple precautions against mosquito bites, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent that contains DEET and eliminating standing water around your home.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become ill, though some may experience a mild fever, headaches and body aches. Fewer than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile will suffer serious complication such as inflammation of the brain or paralysis. In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

The best protection is to avoid mosquito bites. Simple tips for prevention include:

Commissioners to Meet In Post Falls

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in the conference room in the Cabela's store in Post Falls July 23 and 24.

The two-day meeting will start with a field trip to the Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area and the Pack River Delta on Wednesday, July 23.

A public hearing will be at 7 p.m. in Cabela's Conference Room, 101 N. Cabela Way, Post Falls.

In the morning of July 24, commissioners will consider rules allowing a disabled applicant to self-certify that they are capable of holding, or holding and firing, without assistance from other persons, legal hunting and fishing equipment.

Commissioners also will consider a Fisheries Bureau request for a 30 day public comment period on a draft white sturgeon management plan, and they will consider the release of auction and lottery bighorn sheep tags for 2009 to be marketed by the Wild Sheep Foundation.

They also will hear an update on the Chinook salmon fishery.

After lunch, commissioners will consider rules for vendors and lifetime licenses, and they will hear an overview of the Idaho Outfitter's and Guide's Licensing Board. Next they will take up five proposed nonbiological rule changes.

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.

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

Other items on the commission agenda include a review of the 2008 status of Idaho's duck, goose and sage-grouse populations as well as department proposals for 2008 seasons. Commissioners also will consider the expenditure of Animal Damage Control funds, legislative proposals, and an update on the Farragut shooting range.

Second Controlled Hunt Drawing Coming Up

The application period for the second deer, elk and pronghorn runs from August 5 to 15.

The second drawing will be August 20. Any left over permits will go on sale August 25.

Hunters who didn't draw controlled hunt permits in the first round can apply.

The application fee is $6.50.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is urging hunters to pick up their controlled hunt permits and tags to avoid the last minute rush of the August 1 deadline.

It's too late for people who try to buy their permits and tags after the deadline. But it's not too late to apply for the second controlled hunt drawing for the unclaimed permits.

Hunters can pick up permits and tags at any license vender in the state, online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/licenses/, or call 1-800-554-8685.

The cost is $7.75 for the controlled hunt permit, plus the cost of the tag. Resident deer tags cost $19.75, elk are $30.75, pronghorn are $31.25, and bear tags are $11.50.

Super Hunt Tickets on Sale Now

Don't be late. The deadline to enter this year's second Super Hunt drawings is less than a month away.

Eight lucky winners will win the hunt of a lifetime.

Entries in the second Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game headquarters by August 10 for the drawing set for August 15. Tickets will be drawn for two elk, two deer and two pronghorn antelope hunts as well as one moose hunt. And one Super Hunt Combo ticket will be drawn that will entitle the winner to four hunts - one each elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and moose.

The winners may hunt in any open hunt in the state, and any animal they shoot will be in addition to any other tags or controlled hunts the hunter may hold. All other rules of those hunts apply.

The special Super Hunt drawings began in 2004 to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which compensates landowners who provide fishing and hunting access to or across private lands in Idaho.

As of June 25, the program had secured access to 424,951 acres of private land and opened access to 333,770 acres of public land.

A single ticket costs $6.25. Tickets are available at license vendors, all Fish and Game offices and on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov; click on the Super Hunt logo, or call 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685.

Forms to order tickets by mail are also available on the Fish and Game Website and in the hunting rules brochure. Tickets must be filled out and mailed back to Fish and Game. All tickets for the second drawing must be received at Fish and Game headquarters license section office no later than August 10.

Mail entries to: IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Wolf Report: F&G Investigates Wolf Killings

Idaho Fish and Game and federal officers are investigating three wolf killings.

A June 27 investigation showed a wolf killed by a sheepherder on June 21 on Thorne Butte in Boise County was determined to be legal under state law. The wolf was attacking the sheepherder's two border collies.

Officials investigated an illegally taken wolf in Casner Creek near Lowman. The wolf was shot with a small caliber rifle, either .22-250 or .223. The investigation is ongoing.

Fish and Game and U.S.D.A. Wildlife Service officers investigated a call that an Arco landowner and rancher had killed a wolf that was in with his cattle on the south side of Timbered Dome. The investigation showed that the take was legal under state law.

Wildlife Services on June 28 confirmed that wolves had killed a calf on BLM public land in the Pahsimeroi. This is the third confirmed depredation by this pack in the past two months. Wildlife Service killed two wolves on July 2 and 3.

On July 8, Wildlife Services investigated a report that wolves had killed several sheep on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment in Lester Creek, just west of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The carcasses had deteriorated and federal agents could conclude only a "probable' wolf depredation on two sheep.

Wildlife Service confirmed on July 9 that wolves from the Galena pack killed a calf on private property near Obsidian.

Also on July 9, Wildlife Service confirmed that wolves killed a ewe and six lambs and injured another lamb that is unlikely to survive. The incident occurred between Burgdorf and the Salmon River on the Payette National Forest. Two days later, federal agents trapped and killed an adult, gray male and shot and killed another adult, gray male wolf that was seen chasing a guard dog.

On July 10, Wildlife Services confirmed that a pair of wolves killed a calf on private land on Smith's Prairie near Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Salmon Fishing Stays Open on South Fork Salmon River

Chinook salmon fishing will remain open at least through the weekend on the South Fork Salmon River.

Idaho Fish and Game fish managers say there are enough of the state's share of hatchery-origin Chinook salmon coming up the South Fork to keep the fishery open through Monday, July 14. They will reevaluate the run size and harvest numbers Monday morning and expect to manage the fishery on a day-to-day basis after that, with closure notice as short as 24 hours.

South Fork Salmon River is open 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.

Limits for adult Chinook salmon on the South Fork Salmon River are two per day and six in possession. The statewide salmon limit is 40 per season. Anglers may keep two jacks per day and have six in possession, but they are not required to record the jacks on a salmon permit.

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

Fishing hours are from one half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, local time. 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.

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, the Fish and Game Website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish or a Fish and Game office for additional rules, license costs and other information.