Press Release

January 2009

Fish and Game Aerial Operations Scheduled

Mule deer will be the subject of some close looks by Idaho Fish and Game biologists beginning in early February.

Several low-level helicopter survey operations are scheduled, in the area from Emmett to Riggins and from West Mountain to the Oregon border.

"We want to give folks a heads up regarding this operation," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jeff Rohlman said. "They may see a low-flying helicopter in the weeks ahead."

Game management units 22 (Council west to the Snake River), 23 (New Meadows to Riggins), 31 (Cambridge west to the Snake River), 32 (Emmett north to Cambridge) and 32A (New Meadows to Banks) will be the focus of the mule deer counting effort.

"This is a normal operation that we conduct about every three years to get a handle on the number of deer in these units," Rohlman said. "Depending on weather, we will be flying over this area for at least three weeks."

For more information regarding the mule deer survey work, contact Fish and Game's McCall office at 208-634-8137.

Wandering Wolverine Wonders Where he Went Wrong

When a local Menan recreational trapper headed out to check his bobcat trap set, probably the last thing he expected to find was a wolverine.

Wolverines are secretive animals whose numbers and travels still remain a mystery. Fortunately, the incidental trapping of this young male wolverine will help provide biologists with a new chapter in the study of wolverines in Idaho.

The wolverine might not agree, but the timing of this incident couldn't have been better in relation to a wildlife management partnership that was created last year in Eastern Idaho. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and the Wildlife Conservation Society together created a professional biologist position dedicated to manage the large predators that inhabit the Upper Snake Region.

Bryan Aber, a Forest Service wildlife biologist on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, had his job morphed into a jointly funded position responsible for wolves, grizzly bears and wolverines.

Wolverines are a protected nongame species, and thanks to a modern foothold trap, the animal could be sedated and removed without incident. It was then whisked by Aber to the Driggs Veterinary Clinic, vets who have helped with wolverine research in the past.

After a thorough checkup, doctors implanted an internal radio transmitter in the young male wolverine to allow wildlife biologists to track his movements.

Past research using internal transmitters has proven successful.

The tapered body of wolverines make use of traditional radio collars difficult, but the animal was also fitted with a GPS tracking collar that will provide exact time and location data for as long as it stays on the animal.

After a brief holding period, the animal was transported and released in habitat that is considered to be better suited for wolverines. Aber and other biologists will track the wolverine's movements, hoping to learn what attracted the animal to the area.

Bald Eagle Days Feature Raptor Viewing

The 10th annual Bald Eagle Days, January 29-31, will feature events for all ages, including viewing bald eagles and other wildlife along the Boise River.

Bald Eagle Day, the signature event of the annual festivities, runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, 5657 Warm Springs Ave.

This year the event features the kickoff of the Idaho Children and Nature Network's statewide "Be Outside" initiative during a 9:45 a.m. news conference Friday, January 30, with Idaho First Lady Lori Otter. The Network is a coalition of government agencies, organizations, private businesses, medical professionals and Idaho residents.

The free, family-oriented Bald Eagle Days events include wildlife viewing along the Boise River with Audubon Society volunteers, presentations featuring live bald eagles and other birds of prey, hands-on educational raptor displays and presentations on falconry and Boise River ecology.

Thursday and Friday, January 29 and 30, Treasure Valley school groups are invited to the Barber Pool Conservation Area to learn about the Boise River and its importance to local wildlife. Live raptors and educational activities will foster awareness and a stewardship ethic for the river and its wildlife habitat during this educational event.

Viewing stations will be staffed by Audubon Society volunteers, informative presentations featuring bald eagles and other live birds of prey, hands-on educational activities and environmental booths hosted by local organizations.

All will take place within the 700-acre natural reserve of public and private land along the Boise River, six miles east of downtown Boise. Barber Pool's black cottonwoods, wetlands and uplands are home to more than 200 bird species and more than 60 species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

Ask Fish and Game: Ice Fishing

Q. If I can have five poles for ice fishing, does a two-pole permit mean I can have 10?

A. No. Ice fishing rules are slightly different than general fishing for public safety and general crowding. Fishing is allowed only through a hole up to 10 inches in diameter. This reduces the risk of someone falling through holes. (The only exception is on Bear Lake in Southeast Idaho where anglers can dip net cisco through any size hole.) There are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. A two-pole validation does not allow more than five lines while ice fishing. All lines must be attended by the angler. Anglers also should check the rule book for regional restrictions.

Access Yes! Bids Accepted Through February 15

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is looking for landowners interested in providing access for hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities in the Magic Valley Region.

Access Yes! began in 2003 and continues to gain popularity with both landowners and sportsmen. The program compensates private landowners who provide public access to or through their property. Landowners can include stipulations such as the number of sportsmen per day, vehicle restrictions or the period of time that access will be allowed.

"Compensation can come in the form of direct monetary payments, habitat improvement projects, and access development projects, but other types of compensation or assistance are considered," said Brad Lowe, landowner-sportsmen coordinator for the Idaho Fish and Game. "The program also provides signs to landowners to help inform the public about access conditions or permission requirements."

Time is running out to submit a bid for the 2009 season. Interested landowners need to submit bids before February 15. For bid applications go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/accessyesguide.aspx or call Brad Lowe at 208-324-4359.

Bald Eagle Survey Shows Above Average Local Wintering Population

The mid-winter bald eagle survey completed January 15, revealed 13 adults along the Snake River in north central Idaho.

That's well above the long-term average of nine, says Joel Sauder, nongame biologist for the Idaho Fish and Game in the Clearwater Region

"We counted 13 bald and 8 golden eagles along the 55 mile route up the river," Sauder said.

Early January each year, Idaho Fish and Game participates in a nationwide survey to estimate the number of bald eagles in each state, their distribution, and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat. Sizes of survey routes vary from single fixed points to 150 miles. Surveys are conducted from vehicles, fixed wing aircraft, boats and helicopters.

The local survey consists of jet boating up the Snake River from the Grande Ronde River to the mouth of Temperance Creek, counting both adult and immature bald eagles.

According to Sauder, the number of bald eagles wintering observed can fluctuate widely from year-to-year, and is determined by the amount of open water and availability of prey.

"We've had a lot of snow this winter and the cold conditions may have congregated the eagles," he said.

The annual midwinter survey provides information on both breeding and nonbreeding segments of the population at a potentially limiting time of year. It also provides an opportunity to monitor modifications or threats to habitat at important wintering areas. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in bald eagles and their conservation.

Time to Apply For Turkey, Bear Controlled Hunts

Hunters have until the middle of next month to apply for this spring's controlled turkey and bear hunts.

The application period ends Sunday, February 15.

Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15 - some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor, Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling 1-800-55HUNT5 or 1-800-824-3729; or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. The application fee is $6.25 per person per species. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications.

Hunters who want to apply must have a 2009 hunting license.

Now's the Time for a Hunter Education Course

By Evin Oneale, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

With online registration, signing up for a hunter education or bowhunter education course has never been easier.

And this time of year, there are a number of courses to choose from.

Idaho Fish and Game offers three course options for hunter education students and two options for bowhunter education students. Traditional classroom courses and internet courses are available for both, while the hunter education program also offers a home study workbook option.

Regardless of which option is best for you, your first stop should be the hunter education webpage located on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Click on the "Hunter and Bowhunter Education" box in the bottom middle of the page to access the site and learn more about course options, review course availability and even register for a course using a credit card.

"We've made it easy to find the course that fits your schedule and then register for that course via the internet," Fish and Game wildlife educator Dan Papp said.

Traditional Courses

Traditional hunter education classroom courses remain the most popular course type and are the best choice for budding young hunters. Taught by a cadre of volunteer instructors, these classes might meet six evenings in a two-week period and are capped off by a field exercise where students put some of their newfound skills to the test. Enrollees must be at least nine years of age to participate in a traditional hunter or bowhunter education course, turning 10 within the same calendar year.

Though not required, parents or guardians are encouraged to attend courses with their children and participate in the entire program. Traditional Hunter Education courses are currently being offered in Boise, Caldwell, Nampa, Parma and Payette, and folks are advised not to procrastinate.

Winter Conditions Bode Well For Wildlife, So Far

Native wildlife, such as deer and elk, have endured the rugged climate of eastern Idaho for thousands of years, so it's evident that they are capable of surviving if left on their own.

The tricky part of the equation is that modern man has affected their population numbers and habitat to such an extent that biologists must keep a close tab on the animals, the weather and the habitat to make sure that no significant change goes unnoticed.

When extreme circumstances do occur, such as last year's harsh winter, humans want to help by feeding wildlife. But numerous factors must be considered when discussing winter feeding, with money and manpower being among the most significant. Many people are unaware of the undertaking a feeding operation needs to be, or the costs involved in relation to the benefits received by the individual animal.

In the Upper Snake Region during the winter of 2008, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, with the aid of numerous volunteers, fed about 1,500 deer and 250 elk at locations scattered across the region. In the Arco area, hay was provided to about 350 pronghorn.

"We ended up feeding elk 47 tons of hay in Swan Valley and Teton Valley and 65 tons of deer pellets everywhere else in the region," landowner sportsman coordinator Russ Knight said.

The cost of feeding hay and pellets was nearly $32,000; the manpower and materials expenses added another $44,000; volunteers donated time worth more than $7,000. The total cost of feeding $76,000.

What did all of this money and time buy? The exact answer will never be known because of all the variables involved. Fawn survival was equally dismal on the Sand Creek Desert where feeding occurred, as it was in the Teton Canyon where no feeding was conducted because of extreme logistical problems.

Register Now for Hunter or Bowhunter Education Course

Is your son or daughter planning on hunting in Idaho this year?

Seats are available at a number of hunter and bowhunter education courses scheduled February though April in several Lewiston area communities.

Students can view a list courses being offered and register online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/education/hunter_ed or visit the Clearwater Region office at 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.

"Register now because it may be the last course offered in your area before the spring turkey season begins" said James Reed, hunter education coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Both hunter and bowhunter education courses are also available online through Fish and Game's website. Students who choose this option must register for and participate in an Internet Course Field Day to complete the course.

Anyone born after January 1, 1975, must complete a hunter education course to buy an Idaho hunting license or show proof that they previously held a valid hunting license in Idaho or another state.

Grizzly Bear Found Dead In Ashton Reservoir

Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers are looking for information about a yearling male grizzly bear that was found dead under suspicious circumstances around Thanksgiving in Ashton Reservoir.

The young male and his sister were trapped and moved because they were feeding in an orchard near Gardiner, Montana. The bears had already defied the odds because they had survived their first winter as orphans, after their mother was killed when they were cubs. They were initially released in the Yellowstone Lake area in late September.

Despite their close proximity to people, the bears never threatened anyone or got into garbage. The cubs then left the Yellowstone Lake area; this fall they worked their way into Idaho where their locations became difficult to track.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information about the activities of these siblings and how the young male ended up in the Ashton Reservoir. Please call the local Fish and Game office at 208-525-7290 regarding this situation.

Anyone observing suspicious activity or with information regarding wildlife crimes is encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous, and they may be eligible for cash reward if the information leads to a citation or a warrant.

As an additional incentive, the Humane Society of the United States also has offered a $2,500 reward to anyone who receives recognition from the CAP program as being responsible for helping to solve this wildlife mystery.

People can defend themselves from threat of death or serious physical injury from wild animals, but they need to call the authorities as soon as possible.

Idaho Wolves: At A Glance

Numbers: At the end of 2008 (tentative)

  • 824 wolves, 88 packs of which 38 are considered breeding pairs. About 1,500 are found in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
  • 84 wolves in 50 packs had radio collars in December 2008.

Distribution:

  • Wolves are found from the Canadian border to near Interstate 84 in southern Idaho, with most in the national forests of the central part of the state.
  • Most of this year's population growth has been in the Panhandle; the population south of Interstate 90 has increased only slightly.

Current Status:

  • North of Interstate 90 wolves are protected as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • South of Interstate 90 wolves are protected as an experimental, non-essential population under the Endangered Species Act.

What's Next:

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects the delisting rule to be 1 in the Federal Register on January 27.
  • The rule would take effect 30 days after that, unless blocked by the new administration.

After Delisting:

  • If the delisting rule goes into effect, Idaho Fish and Game would be the lead agency in wolf management.
  • Idaho would continue to monitor wolves and make annual reports to U.S. Fish and Wildlife for the following five years.
  • Any wolf hunting seasons would be set by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission under the guidelines set out in the 2008 Wolf Population Management Plan.