Press Release

September 2008

Fish and Game on the Alert for Diseased Deer

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a disease spread by gnats, is responsible for the deaths of as many as 30 deer discovered in a small area of Big Game Management Unit 8 east of Moscow.

Findings from Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University where a dead deer was taken for analysis, confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic disease - known as EHD - was responsible.

However, authorities at Idaho Department of Fish and Game report the public shouldn't worry because there is no danger of the disease being spread to humans, because it is not infectious for humans. Currently, the disease also appears to be localized, but additional reports of dead deer are expected as hunting seasons begin.

EHD is a viral disease that normally attacks only deer, but it can occur with another disease known as Blue Tongue that infects domestic cattle and sheep. EHD has caused disease in cattle in the eastern United States but not in Idaho. Similar to the influenza virus in humans, it is thought that EHD and Blue Tongue are common in the wild, but at times local conditions can cause the diseases to spread more widely.

Authorities say that with cooler weather predicted, it is likely that the gnats will be adversely affected, and the potential for disease spread will slow. Fish and Game will continue to monitor the status of the outbreak but awaits a hard frost that will halt the spread entirely for this year.

However, hunters and landowners are encouraged to notify Fish and Game at 208-799-5010 if they encounter sick, dead or dying deer. These reports will help determine the extent of the affected region.

The last significant EHD outbreak occurred in 2003, mainly in the lower elevations along the Clearwater River drainage from Harpster downstream to Kamiah, with patchy outbreaks occurring in Kendrick, Peck, Orofino and Grangeville, and along the Salmon River near White Bird and Riggins.

Fish and Game Commission to Meet in Lewiston

The next Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting will be November 5-7, at the Clearwater regional office in Lewiston.

The meeting starts with a commission tour of the Potlatch River from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 5. A public hearing will start at 7 p.m. that evening in the Clearwater regional office.

Regular commission business gets under way at 8 a.m. Thursday, November 6. The meeting will continue on Friday, November 7, if necessary.

Routine items on the agenda include setting nonresident deer and elk tag quotas; nonresident deer and elk tag outfitter set-aside; appointing a commission representative to WAFWA; ratifying rules; electing a commission chairman and vice-chairman; and setting the commission calendar for 2009.

OUTDOOR KIDS: What Is A Predator?

By Kelton Hatch, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

When people think of predators in Idaho, bears, lions and wolves come to mind, but predators come in all shapes and sizes, from mountain lions to tiny shrews.

Would you think of a bluebird or great blue heron as a predator? Both are birds that eat other animals to survive. The heron eats fish, and the bluebird eats insects. They are predators even though some people may not see them this way.

The number of predators depends upon the number of animals they have to eat. The more rabbits there are, the more bobcats and coyotes you may see. As soon as rabbit numbers drop, so will bobcat and coyotes numbers.

Many predators hunt by themselves, but others hunt in groups. Wolves hunt in groups called packs because they can catch much larger animals by cooperating with each other. One wolf would have a hard time bringing down an elk or a moose. But three or more wolves working together have a much better chance of bringing down a large elk.

Predators are important parts of the ecosystem. They help maintain the balance of nature. We might be overrun with mice if it were not for predators, such as hawks and snakes.

Predators may sometimes be seen as vicious or bloodthirsty, but they really aren't. Predators kill for one reason: to survive. Wildlife acts instinctively or naturally. They have no choice. Predators have a job to do in nature, and they do it well.

Kelton Hatch is the regional conservation educator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Ask Fish and Game: Possession Limits

Q. If I shoot my limit of four geese and then the next day shoot four more, I have my possession limit on geese. My question is: If I make jerky out of the eight geese, can I shoot another limit before the jerky is consumed? If the geese are processed do they count against your possession limit?

A. The limit, based on federal law, applies to all waterfowl in possession, whether fresh, frozen, smoked or processed. The geese must be consumed or given away - accompanied by a properly filled out proxy form - before they no longer count against the limit. (The rule is different for upland birds. The possession limit for upland birds ends when the birds are at their final place of consumption.)

Free Shooting Skills Clinic Planned

To stimulate a transition from the video game in the basement to a duck blind on the river, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be hosting a free shotgun shooting skills clinic on Saturday, September 27.

A limited number of clinic spots for youth 9 to 17 will be available at 9 a.m. and another round at 1 p.m. at the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area near Roberts. In between the two sessions, Fish and Game will host a free BBQ as part of the event.

"We've got a whole generation of kids growing up whose only ideas about shotguns come from playing video games," Regional Conservation Educator Gregg Losinski said. "This can lead to unrealistic and unsafe ideas about what the guns can and cannot do."

While video games may be part of the issue, the pace of the world that we live in also comes into play.

"Families just don't seem to have the time to get out and hunt, or they lack the equipment or skills to pass on the thrill of shooting and hunting to the next generation," Losinski said.

The clinic has been designed to help youths who come from families that either don't hunt or haven't had the time or resources to teach about safe and fun shooting. The clinic will be run by Fish and Game staff members and volunteer hunter education instructors, who will teach safe gun handling and proper techniques for successful shotgun shooting.

After basic instruction, attendees will have the opportunity to hone their skills by shooting at clay targets. Shotguns and shells will be provided by IDFG, as well hearing and eye protection. If someone already has a shotgun, this clinic may not be for them.

"Our primary goal is to reach kids who have maybe taken hunter education, but never had a chance to shoot a shotgun," Losinski said.

Fish and Game on Lookout for Hunting Violations

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game would like all hunters and anglers to be on the lookout for hunting violations this fall.

Anyone observing hunting or fishing violations is encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999 to report their observations. The toll-free number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

Common violations include shooting across the roadways, trespass and hunting with artificial lights. These are a few of the violations conservation officers will be targeting using plain clothes and under cover efforts.

Conservation officers also will be using "artificially simulated animals," or decoys to detect road hunting and spot lighting violations.

Urban Fishing for Mr. Whiskers

By Joe Kozfkay, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Across the Treasure Valley and surrounding area, you'll find them tucked behind subdivisions, surrounded by a park or hidden down by the river.

They are a true treasure - urban fishing ponds. Idaho Fish and Game manages about 20 of these ponds in southwest Idaho from east Boise to Payette. Veteran's Park, Riverside, Rotary, Merrill, Wilson Springs, Sawyer's and Horseshoe Bend's Mill Pond are just a few examples.

Within a stone's throw of more than half a million people, these ponds are easily accessible and receive high angling use, especially from families with youngsters looking for a quick backyard adventure. The demands on your time are greater than ever; Fish and Game understands that and considers these ponds crucial in the fight to keep children interested - and participating - in the great outdoors.

Most of these ponds are the byproduct of now defunct gravel mining operations near the Boise, Payette, Weiser and Snake Rivers. With the gravel extracted, the gravel companies left, and cool, clear groundwater quickly seeped back into the resulting hole. Having no use for these flooded lands, many owners sold or even donated the properties to Fish and Game or local municipalities.

This collection of public fishing ponds - particularly along the Boise River - has evolved into one of the best urban fishing programs in the West and accounts for about 100,000 fishing trips each year.

Initially, largemouth bass and bluegill were trapped and transferred from nearby waters to populate these ponds and create fisheries. Prolific spawners, these species have flourished in their new homes and continue to provide fishing opportunity. But because of the high amount of fishing pressure, larger bass and bluegill tend to be removed rather quickly.

Sprucing Up the Springs

By Jerry Deal, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Through a partnership between the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Canyon County, elementary school children now have new learning experience available at Wilson Springs Nature Area.

School children have long enjoyed a great field trip learning experience managed by Canyon County Parks, Recreation and Waterways at Celebration Park on the Snake River, with a focus on area history. The new field trip offered by Canyon County Parks will fit in to the math and science curriculum for first through third graders.

While Wilson Springs is locally popular as a fishery and serves the community for a variety of other outdoor experiences, it fits the need for a field trip location well. Multiple ponds provide a variety of fishing opportunities, from regularly stocked catchable rainbow trout to a warm water bass and bluegill fishery. The surrounding upland and wetland habitats are equally diverse, offering an ideal location to see lots of different birds, as well as insects and reptiles. Just across the street, Nampa Hatchery is a great place to learn about Idaho's native fish.

In addition to helping achieve the educational objectives of the field trip experience, the partnership will also contribute to some of Fish and Game's current goals. Introducing youths to fishing can help them develop a life-long interest in the sport. Helping them learn about ecology in a recreational setting may improve their appreciation of nature and motivate them to spend more time outdoors; overcoming what has come to be called "nature deficit disorder." While both of these are high priorities to the department, area users are seeing additional benefits to the partnership as well.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: I harvested a deer during the archery season and observed a lot of ticks on the animal. Do these ticks harm the animal or affect the meat?

Answer: While deer do have ticks, it is more likely that what you observed are called deer-keds.

Deer-keds are frequently mis-identified as ticks, and while they may superficially look similar, there are some notable differences. Keds are usually very mobile and are usually found on the belly of the animal. Ticks on the other hand are attached to skin, do not move around much, and are usually found around the head and neck.

The deer-ked is an introduced species of biting fly originating in Europe, Siberia, and Northern China. The keds occur naturally as a parasite on red deer, roe deer, elk and sika deer in the Old World. In North America they are found on deer, elk, cattle, horses and humans.

On humans, keds will engorge on blood in 15 to 25 minutes. The bite is barely noticeable and leaves little trace. After a period of a few days the bite site will harden and redden. The itch lasting 14 to 20 days is probably the result of the body's reaction to the fly saliva. Deer-keds are not known to be a vector for other diseases. Deer-keds will not reproduce on any host other than deer and have no known impact on the meat.

Deer-keds have very little impact on the health of deer when occurring at reasonable levels. Some anemia may be possible in deer containing extremely high numbers of keds over a prolonged period of time.

Reference:

Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Assoc Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences- Cooperative Extension Entomological notes October 1998.

Ask Fish and Game: License Age Requirement

Q. My son turns 12 the day after opening of the deer season we want to hunt; does he have to wait to buy a license and tag?

A. To buy a license to hunt big game, a person must have completed a hunter education program - unless he or she was born before January 1975 - and must be 12 years old. But youths may buy a license while still 11 to apply for a controlled hunt, provided they turn 12 before the hunt. The tag, however, can't be issued until they turn 12. They must be 12 to buy a general season deer or elk tag.

Joint OHV Patrols Focus on Travel Plan Enforcement

Again this year, Idaho Fish and Game will be working with the U.S. Forest Service to educate the public about the proper use of motorized vehicles to limit disturbance to hunters, wildlife and the habitat.

Off-highway vehicles are becoming more popular than ever, but no major changes have been made to the Targhee National Forest Travel Plan in a number of years.

For the rest of the fall hunting season, both agencies will be patrolling to insure that the travel plan and the hunting regulations that restrict the use of motorized vehicles as an aid to hunting on certain units are followed.

To avoid problems, forest users who wish to hunt need to obtain a copy of the current forest travel plan and this year's hunting regulations before heading out into the field.

A key to staying clear of problems is to remember that on the Targhee portion of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest; all routes are closed unless posted open. Many people mistakenly think that just because a two-track has existed for years, it is open.

It is important to understand the status of all roads and trails in an area and how the regulations apply to the growing number of types of OHVs available for use.

Forest users with OHVs who are planning to hunt should review current hunting regulations to make sure the status of the unit they are planning to hunt. The motorized vehicle rule pertains to big game as well as upland game hunters.

This fall, the agencies will continue to use leased aircraft as spotters for violations during high use periods of the big game seasons. Officers from both agencies will be teaming up and using trucks, OHVs, and horses to contact individuals who have ventured into restricted areas.

Upland Game Bird Seasons Open

The early fall general turkey season begins Monday, September 15, and seasons for sage- grouse, quail and partridge begin September 20.

A separate permit is required for hunting sage- and sharp-tailed grouse. Sharp-tailed season opens October 1.

Turkey:

  • September 15 through December 15. General fall hunt in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut Wildlife Management Area) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.
  • September 15 through October 31. General fall hunt in game management units 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78.
  • September 15 through October 9. General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19 , 20, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32 (except that portion in Payette County), and 32A. Units 33 and 39 are closed to fall hunting.
  • November 21 through December 31. General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, and 16. This hunt is open on private lands only.

The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex per day in the fall. No more than three turkeys may be taken per year, except in Units 1, 2, 3 and 5, where up to five turkeys may be taken in a single day during the fall season. Turkey hunters will need a general or an extra tag. General tags not used in the spring general or controlled hunts are valid for the fall hunt. Special unit tags are available for residents and are valid only for the fall season in Units 1, 2, 3 or 5.

Chukar and gray partridge: September 20 through January 31, 2009

  • Daily bag limit - eight chukar and eight gray partridge.
  • Possession limit after first day - 16 chukar and 16 gray partridge.

Bobwhite and California quail: September 20 through January 31, 2009