Press Release

December 2008

Spring Steelhead Season Opens Thursday

Don't forget to buy a 2009 fishing license and steelhead permit before heading out on New Year's Day.

The spring steelhead season starts Thursday, January 1, and runs through April 30, with three exceptions.

On the Little Salmon River the season runs through May 15; on the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31; and on the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam upstream to Oxbow Dam, and on the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.

Steelhead are in the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. This year about 1,000 steelhead were stocked in the river. Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise River, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead, which are rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin.

The spring steelhead limit is three fish per day, nine in possession and 20 for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing - even catch-and-release.

Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit.

Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Open waters for steelhead are:

* Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.

* Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

* Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.

* Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.

* North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.

Ask Fish and Game: Duck Stamps

Q. If I want to go duck hunting in January I need a new hunting license, but do I need a new federal duck stamp too?

A. You're right, you need to get a 2009 hunting license and a $1.75 migratory bird validation to go duck hunting starting Thursday, but you won't need a new duck stamp. The federal duck stamp is good through the end of the waterfowl seasons. In northern and eastern Idaho the season ends January 16, and in the southwest it ends January 23. Federal duck stamps are good from July 1 of the year they are bought through June 30 of the following year. If you bought a duck stamp after July 1, 2008, it would be good through June 30, 2009.

Fish and Game Commission to Meet in Boise

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners will meet January 27 - 29 in Boise.

The three-day meeting starts with a public hearing at 7 p.m. January 27.

The commissioners start the rest of the meeting at 8 a.m. January 28. Items on the agenda include a legislative budget hearing and setting seasons for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.

Wildlife Managers Start Winter Trapping

The general big game hunting seasons are over, this means the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be able to get out and do some of their population study work.

As the winter snows start to push deer and elk onto their winter ranges, Fish and Game has begun getting ready for management activities that rely on helicopters. Sometimes helicopters will be used to count wildlife, other times they will be used almost like a cowboy's cutting horse to select animals to be driven into waiting nets.

To get a bird's eye view for monitoring populations of deer and elk, Fish and Game relies on rented airships, mainly helicopters.

"Many people do not realize that Fish and Game doesn't own a single helicopter or plane," Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski said. "All our flying is done using aircraft contracted through OAS, the Office of Aeronautical Services in Boise."

Fish and Game uses various types of aircraft for tasks, such as big game aerial surveys and animal trapping for research. While Fish and Game flies year-round, most projects take place during the winter when animals move out into the open on winter range.

Because wildlife management related activities require low-level flights - at altitudes under 500 feet - that often draw public attention, it is Fish and Game policy to inform the public when such activities are scheduled. Scheduled is the operative word, because a variety of factors must come together for a flight to occur. Weather conditions and availability of aircraft can change plans at a moment's notice.

Because many operations, such as mule deer trapping which are part of the ongoing Mule Deer Initiative, require extensive ground preparation and volunteer support, the fickle nature of flight logistics can become a challenge for wildlife managers.

Fish and Game to Host Nampa Sportsman's Breakfast

Plan now to attend a Sportsman's Breakfast at the Fish and Game regional office in Nampa, hosted by department staff.

The breakfast will be from 7 to 9 a.m Saturday, January 10, at 3101 S. Powerline Road in Nampa.

Coffee and pastries will be available for all attendees.

"It's really an opportunity for folks from the Nampa area to interact with Fish and Game staff," Fish and Game regional supervisor Scott Reinecker said. "We want to invite everyone to attend the event, have some coffee and a doughnut, and visit with us."

One major item on the agenda will be an explanation of Fish and Game's proposed revenue increase. The agency's last increase - in 2005 - was intended to last only through 2007.

"We've been good stewards of hunter-angler dollars, making that increase stretch across four years," Reinecker noted. "The time has come, however, for us to seek additional revenue."

About 80 percent of the proposed increase would be used to catch up with inflation pressures, while the remaining 20 percent would be used for expansion of select, existing programs, including urban fishing waters, improved access to some wildlife management areas and increased hatchery fish production.

For information contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.

Fish and Game to Host Mountain Home Sportsman's Breakfast

Plan now to attend a Sportsman's Breakfast at AJ's Restaurant in Mountain Home hosted by Idaho Fish and Game.

The breakfast will be from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday, January 15, at 1130 Highway 20, just off of Interstate-84 at exit 95.

Fish and Game staff will buy coffee for all attendees, with breakfast available for a nominal fee.

"It's really an opportunity for folks from the Mountain Home area to interact with Fish and Game staff," Fish and Game regional supervisor Scott Reinecker said. "We want to invite everyone to attend the event, have some coffee and visit with us."

One major item on the agenda will be an explanation of Fish and Game's proposed revenue increase. The agency's last increase - in 2005 - was intended to last only through 2007.

"We've been good stewards of hunter-angler dollars, making that increase stretch across four years," Reinecker noted. "The time has come, however, for us to seek additional revenue."

About 80 percent of the proposed increase would be used to catch up with inflation pressures, while the remaining 20 percent would be used for expansion of select, existing programs including urban fishing waters, improved access to some wildlife management areas and increased hatchery fish production.

For information contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 or the Jerome office at 208-324-4359.

Egin-Hamer Area Closure Starts January 1

The Egin-Hamer Road closure in the Upper Snake Region begins on January 1 and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the and until April 30, north of it.

To help keep things straight, the signs marking the area north of the Egin-Hamer road are fluorescent orange, while the signs for the earlier opening southern portion are lime green colored.

For the eleventh year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry to protect wintering deer, elk and moose herds.

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road a eleven years ago continues to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife.

The lack of human disturbance created by the closure has allowed herds of deer, elk, and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring. Fish and Game observations of increased numbers of animals staying down on the desert later into the spring is a sign of the success of the project.

Penalties for closure violations range into the hundreds of dollars and result in a Class B misdemeanor.

Individual landowners are exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, is also exempt from the closure.

Boundaries of the closure are posted and free detailed maps are available from the BLM or IDFG in Idaho Falls. The Fremont and Jefferson County Sheriffs' Offices also have copies of the map available.

For more information, including free maps of the closure, contact either the Idaho Fish and Game office in Idaho Falls at 208-525-7290 or the BLM office at 208-523-1012.

Cold Water Endangers Hunters, Anglers

Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

Waters are cold now while waterfowl hunters enjoy the last few weeks of the seasons, and many anglers are still fishing.

Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year, according to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. Anyone who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders them numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Here are some tips to remember when using open boats during cold weather:

Elk Survival Study Update Released

Ongoing work by Idaho Fish and Game research biologists on the survival of radio-collared female elk in Idaho shows the role of predators varies across the state.

An update of the ongoing-research recently was presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

In summary, the research showed that four elk management zones have above 85 percent or better survival, with harvest the primary cause of mortality, and low or medium wolf density. Three zones have 83 to 87 percent survival, with predation the primary cause of mortality, and high wolf density. Two zones have below 82 percent survival, with wolf predation the primary cause of mortality, but one has high wolf density and one very high density.

In the Lolo Elk Management Zone in the Clearwater Region, however, predation, including that by wolves, is responsible for most of the deaths of adult female elk and more than half of the deaths of six-month-old calves. Female elk survival is 75 percent, while normal is 85 to 95 percent, and calf survival from December through the following June is about 73 percent - normal is about 90 percent or better survival.

An overview of the results now is available on the Fish and Game Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/manage_issues/ung/elkupdate.cfm.

The ongoing deer and elk survival research project began in January 2005, when Fish and Game biologists captured and put radio collars on more than 400 elk, more than 450 deer and 35 moose to learn how they live and how they die. More animals have been captured and collared since then for a total of more than 670 elk by 2008.

The goal is to learn how changing habitats and expanding wolf populations affect big game animals.

Horsethief Reservoir Seeks Summer Host

Horsethief Reservoir is a summer weekend fishing destination for thousands of Idahoans.

But the right person could spend the entire summer there in 2009, serving as host for the Idaho Fish and Game-owned reservoir and camping area.

Applications are being accepted for the position of camp host at the popular recreation site. This is an unpaid, volunteer position, and applicants must have a fully self-contained recreational vehicle. A small per diem is offered to help hosts defer some expenses.

"We're looking for a person or persons to meet and greet the camping public throughout the summer and serve as ambassadors for the department," utility craftsman Dennis Hardy said. "Providing information, troubleshooting for campers and gently enforcing area rules are just some of the duties associated with the position."

Located just east of Cascade, the 260-acre site is set in a forested area, giving it a high mountain lake appearance. Horsethief is managed as a rainbow trout fishery and is a popular summer destination for anglers and other recreationists.

For additional information or to apply for the volunteer host position, contact Dennis Hardy at the Fish and Game's Southwest Region office in Nampa, 208-465-8465 or by e-mail at dhardy@idfg.idaho.gov.

Craig Mountain Gates To Open

With major snowstorms covering the area recently, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will begin opening access gates on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

The gates are designed to enhance wildlife security not to restrict snowmobile use. The gates will remain open until March 15, 2009, or until snow depths recede below 16 inches.

Early season snowmobilers are urged to use caution. The recent snow is very fluffy with no base. This unconsolidated snow can hide hazards, such as stumps, rocks and logs. In addition, because of the Chimney Complex wildfire, many trees are expected to fall the next few years and new fences were constructed in several areas to restrict illegal off-road use. Salvage logging will also be in progress during the winter months so users need to be cautious of the increased traffic.

The Lewis and Clark Snowdrifters annually groom and remove obstacles on almost 200 miles of trails on Craig Mountain and surrounding area to enhance access and improve safety.

Ask Fish and Game: Trespass Laws

Q. If the land is not posted, can I still be cited for trespassing?

A. State code includes several laws on trespassing with different requirements for different situations, but most require permission to enter another person's land to hunt, fish, trap or retrieve game if it is cultivated, fenced or posted with signs or orange paint. Unposted fenced land may be open to hunting and fishing access. But posting is not required if the landowner or agent asks the person to leave. (There is, however, a penalty for falsely claiming public land as private.)