Press Release

September 2008

Ask the Conservation Office (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I harvested a deer during the archery season. When I began cutting and wrapping the deer, I noticed it had been previously injured causing loss of a large amount of meat. I was denied an option of another deer tag. Why?"

Answer: The Department is very concerned about wildlife diseases, especially those that may be a human health concern.

In those instances the Department is willing to allow a hunter an option of purchasing a second tag to continue hunting. The Department wishes to eliminate any potential threat to human health. In addition, as part of the Department's wildlife disease surveillance program we are always on the lookout for potential diseases occurring in wild animals that may affect wild populations.

If a second tag is granted the entire first animal, including the meat, hide, antlers and all parts are surrendered to the Department for disposal or testing.

This issue is sometimes difficult and some hunters in the past have been allowed a second tag for very minimal reasons. Some hunters have harvested injured or sick animals to prevent them from further suffering. We all have compassion for sick or injured animals and do not wish to prolong suffering for any animals, however if a hunter chooses to kill and injured animal to stop it's suffering without first being directed to do so from a conservation officer, he may not be allowed to obtain a second tag.

There are many factors affecting the meat of a big game animal, including care and handling post-mortem. In the wild most big game animals are healthy. However some animals suffer from many maladies, parasites, and injures. In the wild they are constantly be tested by predators (including humans) and the environment. The theories of Charles Darwin suggest only the fittest animals survive, but he never said they'd be injury free.

Sage-Grouse Results Mixed

The opening weekend of sage-grouse hunting season produced a mix of results around Idaho.

Hunting for the native game bird was good in the Upper Snake Region where the bag limit was increased from one to two birds for this fall. Hunter numbers there were up substantially, from 490 last year to 660 and the number of birds checked went from 307 to 589. Hours hunted for birds bagged dropped from 6.3 to 4.8.

Results were less encouraging in other regions. Hunter numbers were small in the Southeast Region where most of the region except for the Curlew Grasslands was closed to hunting. Hunter numbers and birds bagged were down in the Magic Valley Region.

Hunter numbers actually rose by two, from 135 to 137 in the Southwest Region but the number of birds bagged fell slightly.

The total of sage-grouse checked in Idaho on opening weekend was 903.

Fish and Game Videos on YouTube

Idaho Fish and Game videos are available to YouTube visitors with subject matter ranging from Commission meetings to Salmon Fishing.

YouTube users can find the Fish and Game videos by using the site's search function or by going to the channels button and searching for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game channel.

Agencies Make Roads Safer for Wildlife and People

Many people probably have experienced the sinking and helpless feeling when their car's headlights encounter a set of motionless eyes reflecting back at them.

Most of the time, the driver's corrective maneuver successfully avoids the creature that seemed to come out of nowhere. But many times it does not.

The results usually include a damaged car and a dead or dying animal in the road. Worse, if the animal is a large deer, elk or moose, the result is often a wrecked vehicle with a potentially injured occupant.

It is hard to escape such a situation, considering the vast wildlife resources and miles of highway in Idaho.

Many other wildlife species less conspicuous than deer and elk also fall victim on Idaho's roads, including small mammals, reptiles and birds. Vehicles have overtaken hunting as the number one contributor to human-caused wildlife mortality. An estimated 200 humans are killed, and 29,000 injured, every year from deer-vehicle collisions. Researchers with the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University estimate that the average costs of hitting an individual deer, elk or moose are $8,000, $17,500 and $28,600, respectively. These costs include the damaged vehicle, the loss of the animal for hunting and wildlife viewing, human injuries or fatalities and accident investigation. Greater than $1 billion in property damage results from wildlife-vehicle collisions every year in the United States.

Simply put, wildlife-vehicle collisions can be costly to wildlife and humans.

Highways can affect wildlife in other ways. Besides the loss of habitat when they are built, highways with high average daily traffic act as "virtual barriers" to wildlife movement, thereby restricting access to needed habitat.

Roads also fragment the landscape, making once suitable habitat ineffective.

Ask Fish and Game: Big Game Shell Limit

Q. I know I can only legally have three shells in my shotgun when I hunt migratory birds. What about hunting big game with my rifle?

A. Idaho does not have a rule limiting the number of cartridges in a hunting rifle, nor for a shotgun while hunting non-migratory game birds.

Deer Season Opens in Most of Idaho

Venison anyone?

The regular deer season opens October 10 in most regions of Idaho. In some areas, a regular deer tag allows hunters to take either mule deer or white-tailed deer. A white-tailed deer tag allows hunter to take only a white-tail.

Many areas across the state also offer antlerless youth hunt opportunities, but check the 2008 big game rules brochure carefully for the areas where youth hunts are open.

To hunt deer in Idaho during the regular season, a resident hunter must have valid 2008 hunting license and a resident deer tag.

Fish and Game law enforcement officials ask that hunters report any poaching or suspicious activities they encounter or hear about while hunting. Most serious poaching cases are cracked and won only with the help of ordinary Idaho residents, hunters or others who report crimes.

Hunters with information about a wildlife crime may call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. Or they may call the nearest Fish and Game office or local law enforcement.

Hunters also are encouraged to pick up a free copy of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's backcountry game meat care guide. The guide has helpful tips to ensure proper handling of game to avoid wasting the meat. The guide is available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors.

And for help planning their hunt, hunters can use the hunt planner on the department's Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner.

Remember to ask first before hunting on private land.

Waterfowl Season Opens

The waterfowl season opens Saturday, October 4, in northern and eastern Idaho; it opens October 11 in southwestern Idaho and the Magic Valley.

A shortened scaup season opens October 25 in the northern and eastern parts of the state, and November 1 in the southwest. There is no season on canvasbacks.

All hunters must have a valid hunting license and a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation, and hunters 16 years old or older must have a federal migratory bird stamp. Nontoxic shot is required to hunt waterfowl.

The 107-day season dates for duck, geese, coots and snipe are:

  • October 4 to January 16, 2009 - Area 1, northern and eastern Idaho.
  • October 11 to January 23, 2009 - Area 2, southwestern Idaho and Magic Valley.

Bag limits are unchanged from last year.

Daily limits are:

Ducks: 7 of any kind, including not more than:

  • 1 pintail.
  • 2 redheads.
  • 2 female mallards.
  • 2 scaup, total lesser and greater.

Geese: 4 of any kind, Canada, white-fronted, Ross' or snow goose, except in Fremont and Teton counties, which are closed to Ross' and snow geese.

Coots: 25.

Common snipe: 8.

Possession after first day of season:

Ducks: 14 of any kind, including not more than:

  • 2 pintails.
  • 4 redheads.
  • 4 female mallards.
  • 4 scaup, total lesser and greater.

Geese: 8 of any kind, except in Fremont and Teton counties, which are closed to Ross' and Snow geese.

Coots: 25.

Common snipe: 16.

Youth Pheasant Hunt Opens

A youth pheasant season opens statewide Saturday, October 4, and runs through October 10 for all licensed hunters 15 years old or younger.

The week-long hunt opens at noon Saturday in Areas 2 and 3, and one half-hour before sunrise in Area 1. Hunting begins one half-hour before sunrise on Sunday, except on the C.J. Strike, Fort Boise, Montour and Payette River wildlife management areas, where hunting begins at 10 a.m.

The regular season opens October 11 in Area 1 and October 18 in Areas 2 and 3.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older -one adult may accompany more than one youth.

The daily bag limit is three cocks, and the possession limit is six after the first day, except on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked, in which case the daily limit is two cocks and four in possession.

Youth hunters do not need a WMA pheasant permit to hunt on Idaho Fish and Game wildlife management areas. Pheasants will be stocked on the Payette, Montour, Fort Boise, Niagara and Market Lake wildlife management areas before the youth hunt weekend.

All upland game hunters are required to wear hunter orange during the pheasant season when hunting on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. And all hunters must have a valid 2008 Idaho hunting license.

Hunters: Keep Predators in Mind

As big game hunters take to the woods, they are reminded that they are not alone at the top of the food chain.

Each year, Idaho Fish and Game receives reports of wolves being attracted to hunters as they call elk, wolves visiting hunting camps, and large predators eating carcasses that were not properly hung.

Steve Nadeau, in charge of large carnivore programs for Idaho Fish and Game, said hunters need to remain aware that hunting increases the chance of running into or attracting wolves and other carnivores.

Carcasses and gut piles attract bears, lions, and wolves and should be treated carefully to avoid problems such as losing game meat. The rule of thumb is to try to get the carcass out of the woods the same day it is killed. If the carcass remains overnight, it helps to place the gut pile on a tarp and drag it away from the carcass. If that is not possible, hang meat 10 feet off the ground. Hunters should leave clothes, human scent, tarps, or other items to deter carnivores from scavenging meat.

When returning to the kill, hunters should approach the carcass carefully and view it safely from a distance, Nadeau said. Carnivores, especially bears, may be close by and might attempt to defend the carcass. Some bears, wolves, coyotes and other scavengers may venture into campsites if they smell meat or other foods. Place game poles downwind of camps and make sure the meat is secured 10 feet off the ground and three feet from a tree. Bears and wolves may eat carcasses hung within reach.

Wolves are protected under the endangered species act and killing one illegally is a federal offense.

Waterfowl Youth Hunt Coming Up

Youth hunters who want an early shot at a duck or goose may participate in the youth waterfowl hunt on September 27 and 28.

The hunt is open to youths 15 and younger.

The regular waterfowl season opens the following weekend, on October 4 in northern and eastern Idaho, and on October 11 in the southwestern part of the state. The scaup season opens October 25 in the northern and eastern parts of the state, and November 1 in the southwest.

The waterfowl youth hunt includes goose, duck, coot and snipe. The season is closed on canvasbacks.

Youth hunters must have a 2008 Idaho hunting license and a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation. But a federal duck stamp is not required.

At least one adult 18 years old or older having a valid hunting license, must accompany each youth hunting party into the field at all times. Adults are not allowed to hunt.

All other state and federal migratory game bird hunting rules and regulations still apply. Bag limits for ducks and geese will remain the same as for the general season. Hunters are allowed to harvest seven ducks, but that can include no more than one pintail, two redheads and two mallard hens. They can also harvest four geese.

Nontoxic shot is required to hunt waterfowl.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Season Opens Next Week

The sharp-tailed grouse season opens October 1 and runs through October 31.

The season is open only in eastern Idaho in these areas: Bingham and Clark counties east of Interstate 15, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson County east of Interstate 15, Madison, and Teton counties, Bonneville County east of Interstate 15, Bannock County east of Interstate 15 and south of Interstate 86, Bear Lake, Caribou, Cassia County east of Interstate 84 and that portion west of Interstate 84 south of the Malta-Sublett Road and east of the Malta-Strevell Road, Franklin, Oneida, and Power County south of Interstate 86.

Sharp-tailed grouse have been introduced into historical range in southern Twin Falls county and southeastern Owyhee County. Twin Falls County, Owyhee County and most of Cassia County are closed to the hunting of sharp-tailed grouse. Sharp-tailed grouse also occur around Split Butte area in Minidoka County. Hunting of sharp-tailed grouse is closed in Minidoka County.

Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in their possession a valid hunting license with a sage- sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $1.75 in addition to a valid 2008 hunting license. The permit allows better monitoring of the harvest of this game bird. It is available at Fish and Game license vendors.

All hunters are encouraged to refer to the upland game or waterfowl rules brochures for hunt details on seasons, limits and rules.

Deer Poacher Loses Hunting Privileges for Life

Poaching deer has cost a Pocatello man his hunting and fishing privileges for life, a month and a half in jail and more than $21,000 in fines.

In the fall of 2007, Russell D. Mee, 53, killed at least three deer in Arbon Valley and dumped two deer near his property when he suspected he was being investigated by Idaho Fish and Game.

Charges were filed by the Power County prosecuting attorney in American Falls. And on September 11, District Court Judge Peter McDermott sentenced Mee in connection with the illegal killing and wasting of deer.

"Our state wildlife forensic laboratory, headed by Dr. Karen Rudolph, was critical in this case, because it was able to show through DNA analysis that the only person who could have committed this crime was Russell Mee," Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer Scott Wright said. "Mee was in no hurry to confess to anything, and without this evidence he would have probably gotten away with it."

McDermott told Mee in court that the facts in this case showed that he was a poacher, and his days in the mountains were over. He sentenced Mee to 10 years in state prison, suspended barring any violation of his probation.

During the 10 years probation, Mee may not accompany anyone engaged in hunting, fishing or trapping, and he may not have in his possession any wild animal or wild animal parts. Any violation of this probation will result in Mee being ordered to serve his 10-year prison sentence.

In addition, Mee was ordered to pay $21,450 in fines and restitution to the state, the majority of which will go to pay for the cost of the DNA testing. Mee's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges were suspended for life, and he was sentenced to 45 days in the Power County jail.