Press Release

March 2009

Spring Chinook Season Set to Open in April

It looks like Idaho will have a spring Chinook salmon fishing season in the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

Seasons open April 25 on the Clearwater, the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and the Snake rivers. A season opens May 23 on the Lochsa River, and a season opens June 20 on the Salmon River from Shorts' Creek upstream about 25 miles to the boat ramp at Vinegar Creek.

"We still anticipate enough Chinook salmon coming back to Idaho to justify a fishing season," anadromous fish manager Pete Hassemer told commissioners.

Hassemer expects to return to the commission in May with proposals for summer Chinook fishing in the upper Salmon River and the South Fork Salmon River.

The forecast is for about 105,600 hatchery fish and almost 23,000 wild Chinook returning to Idaho. That translates into estimates of 13,341 fish available for nontribal anglers in the Clearwater River, 9,700 in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon, and 1,365 in the Snake River.

The daily limit is four Chinook salmon, no more than two may be 24 inches or more in total length. Anglers must stop fishing for salmon - including catch-and-release - when they have caught and kept two salmon 24 or more inches long or four salmon, whichever comes first. The possession limit is 12 fish, but not more than six may be 24 inches or more in total length. The statewide limit is 40 Chinook 24 or more inches long during 2009. Salmon less than 24 inches are included in the limits but are not recorded on the permit.

Only Chinook with a clipped adipose fin - the small fin between the dorsal fin and tail - as evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept.

Anglers may use only barbless hooks no more than five-eighths of an inch from point to shank. In the Lochsa, only artificial flies and lures - no bait - with one barbless hook per fly or lure may be used. A single hook may have up to three points.

Salmon Poisoning Can Kill Dogs

Warning to steelhead and salmon anglers: Sharing your catch with your dog can be an act of kindness that kills.

Salmon Poisoning Disease is a potentially fatal illness seen in dogs that eat the flesh or entrails of raw ocean-going fish such as steelhead and salmon.

Characterized by parasites infected with a rickettsial organism that attack the dog's digestive system, salmon poisoning can mimic gastrointestinal illnesses. Symptoms usually appear within six days and include nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, dehydration and weakness.

If untreated, the poisoning is generally fatal within 14 days. About 90 percent of dogs showing symptoms die if they are not treated. Caught early enough, however, salmon poisoning can easily be treated with an antibiotic and de-wormer to kill the parasite and rickettsial organism.

"With a healthy steelhead run now in our rivers and a strong salmon run predicted, dog owners should really watch their pets closely," said Lucas Swanson, conservation officer for Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Several local dog owners have recently lost their dogs to salmon poisoning because they just thought their dogs had a stomach ache, Swanson said.

"If your dog is not its usual chipper self and its temperature is above 101, head for your local veterinarian as soon as possible," he said.

And it's not just dogs taken on fishing trips that are at risk.

"If you have a dog that wanders or raids garbage cans and you are unsure of what it has eaten, consider the possibility of salmon poisoning," he said.

Moose, Sheep, Goat Applications Due

April is not just tax month; it's also the month to apply for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts.

Applications for these controlled hunts will be accepted from April 1 through April 30. Hunters may apply at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, and with a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685; Internet users may apply at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/.

Telephone and Internet applications are subject to additional service charges.

Each applicant must possess an Idaho hunting or combination license to apply for a controlled hunt. License fees will not be refunded.

For moose, goat and sheep hunt applications only; the tag, permit and application fees must be paid with the application. All but the $6.25 application fee will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including permit fee, costs $180.75; nonresidents pay $1,765.75.

Unsuccessful resident applicants will receive a refund of $174.50; unsuccessful nonresident applicants will receive a refund of $1,759.50.

Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30.

Hunters who apply for moose, goat and sheep may not apply for any other controlled hunt in the same year except for unlimited controlled hunts, extra deer, elk or pronghorn hunts, controlled bear hunts or depredation hunts.

Those who draw a moose, goat or sheep permit and do not kill an animal may not apply to hunt the same species for two years.

Any person who has harvested an antlered moose in Idaho may not apply for any moose permit except an antlerless moose permit. Any person who has harvested an antlerless moose in Idaho may not apply for any moose permit except an antlered moose permit.

Hunters Can Help Citizens Against Poaching

Hunters who are applying for a controlled hunt might consider helping the fight against poaching, and it won't cost them an extra dime.

The major source of revenue for the Citizens Against Poaching program - also known as CAP - is a check-off on controlled hunt applications. Simply check the "Yes" box, and $1 of the $6.25 application fee goes to the program.

Citizens Against Poaching was established in December 1980 by concerned hunters under the guidance of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. CAP is a nonprofit corporation, and hunters from around the state serve as the seven regional directors, president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

CAP and Fish and Game share responsibility for the program. Fish and Game receives and records reports of violations through a toll-free telephone number or online, routes the information to conservation officers for investigation, and arranges for reward payments. The program pays a reward for information that results in a citation or a warrant - a conviction is not necessary. The person reporting the information may remain anonymous.

Rewards are: $100 for birds, fish, and general violations; $250 for most big game animals; $500 for trophy species such as sheep, goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, with CAP board approval, these amounts can be higher.

In addition to the check-off, other funding sources include donations and court ordered reimbursements.

To report wildlife violations, call the CAP hotline: 1-800-632-5999, or online at: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/enforcement/report_poacher.cfm.

Ask Fish and Game: New Big Game Book

Q. When will the new big game books be available?

A. The 2009 Big Game Seasons and Rules books are at the printer. They are expected to be on the street by mid-April. They also will be available on the Internet by that date at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Lawmakers Host 'Fish with a Legislator' Event

Politics and fishing come together at Nampa's Wilson Springs area on Saturday, April 4 for a "Fish with a Legislator" fishing event.

From noon to 2 p.m., Ada and Canyon County lawmakers will be visiting with constituents and wetting a line at the popular fishing destination. The family-oriented event is being sponsored by the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho Sportsmen's Caucus Advisory Committee and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife.

"We know folks are concerned about a great many issues," event organizer state Rep. Steve Kren, R-Nampa, said. "This fishing event is an excuse to enjoy some fun family time and also share some of those concerns with elected officials in a casual atmosphere."

Participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing gear to the event. For those lacking fishing equipment, loaner gear will be available from Idaho Fish and Game.

For more information regarding the "Fish with a Legislator" event, contact Kren at 332-1044 or the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465.

Ask Fish and Game: Winter Stream Season

Q. When does the winter stream season end?

A. The winter stream season ends March 31 - except in the Panhandle Region, where it runs through May 22. Until then trout fishing is catch-and-release only, but whitefish and brook trout may be harvested in streams open during the winter stream season. Except that whitefish in the Big Lost River are protected and may not be harvested at any time. Fishing gear or bait restrictions that apply to a river or stream section during the general season, also apply during the winter stream season. See regional exceptions in the Idaho 2008-2009 Fishing Seasons and Rules for waters open to winter stream fishing. Fish may be taken in the many rivers and streams open to fishing all year; other streams closed for the winter, open to fishing May 23 for the Memorial Day weekend.

F&G Commission Adopts Wolf, Big Game Seasons

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Tuesday, March 24, adopted big game seasons as recommended by Fish and Game biologists, with a few last minute changes in response to public comments.

Commissioners adopted hunting season dates on wolves statewide, pending removal of wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list, expected to take effect later this spring. The seasons would be the same as proposed last year, except seasons would be extended in the Lolo and Sawtooth zones to run from September 1 through March 31.

The seasons would run from September 15 through December 31 in the Selway and Middle Fork zones, and elsewhere from October 1 through December 31.

Commissioners would set harvest quotas in August. Meanwhile, Fish and Game will respond aggressively to chronic depredation.

Other seasons changes include capping elk tags in two elk zones; reduced general deer opportunities for white-tail deer in northern Idaho and mule deer in southern Idaho; changing general pronghorn archery season to unlimited controlled hunts; and increased opportunities for senior and disabled hunters.

State big game populations, like the nation's economy, are going through a period of correction, some planned some not, former big game manager Brad Compton told commissioners Tuesday.

Under the seasons adopted by the commission, A and B tags in the Sawtooth Elk Management Zone and A tags in the Diamond Creek Zone will be capped. A and B tags already are capped in the Selway and Middle Fork zones, and B tags already are capped in the Dworshak, Lolo and Elk City zones.

The new caps will be phased in over three years. In the first year, A tags will be reduced by 15 percent in the Diamond Creek Zone; A tags will be reduced by 37 percent and B tags will be reduced by 27 percent in the Sawtooth Zone.

Other season changes are:

Deer, controlled hunts:

Commission Adopts Spring Chinook Fishing Season

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Tuesday, March 24, adopted proposed Chinook salmon fishing seasons in the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

Seasons open April 25 on the Clearwater, the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and the Snake rivers. A season opens May 23 on the Lochsa River, and a season opens June 20 on the Lower Salmon River from the mouth of Shorts' Creek upstream about 25 miles to the boat ramp at Vinegar Creek. All seasons will remain open until further notice.

"We still anticipate enough Chinook salmon coming back to Idaho to justify a fishing season," anadromous fish manager Pete Hassemer told commissioners.

The forecast is for about 105,600 hatchery fish and almost 23,000 wild Chinook returning to Idaho. That translates into estimates of 13,341 fish available for nontribal anglers in the Clearwater River, 9,700 in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon, and 1,365 in the Snake River.

Anglers may keep four Chinook salmon or two adult salmon, whichever comes first. The statewide limit is 40 adult Chinook during 2009. Anglers may use only barbless hooks no more than five-eighths of inch from point to shank. Only Chinook with a clipped adipose fin - the small fin between the dorsal fin and tail - as evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept.

Fishing hours will be presented in the rule brochure in a table, based on a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset for a series of locations.

Hassemer expects to return to the commission in May with proposals for summer Chinook fishing in the upper Salmon River and the South Fork Salmon River.

A new special rule restricts boat anglers in Riggins near the mouth of the Little Salmon River to allow better access to bank anglers on the west bank. In addition, 25 miles of the Salmon River just upstream from Riggins is open this year.

Idaho is Ready and Able to Manage Wolves

By Cal Groen, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The recent decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to remove gray wolves in Idaho and Montana from the endangered species list was great news for our state.

Idaho has been preparing for this day in wolf management for nearly 15 years.

Idaho Fish and Game will manage wolves in much the same way as we do bears and mountain lions. Healthy bears and lion populations exist across Idaho, and they have done well under the state's classification as big game.

Before the early 1970s, black bears and mountain lions were classified as predators in Idaho with very little protection. Back then it was controversial to change management for these species. Now both are prized big game animals, and their strongest supporters are the hunters who pursue them.

In a few areas, lions and bears are hunted under more liberal rules where they are a factor in limiting their prey base. These populations are carefully monitored, and seasons are adjusted to manage these predators in concert with elk and deer populations. Idahoans in general appreciate their bears, lions, elk and deer and would object strongly if Fish and Game were to do anything that might tip these animals toward extinction.

Wolves are, of course, different animals from the other two large predators, and management will have to be tailored to their unique biological characteristics. But wolves will never take their place among the state's wildlife if Idahoans feel they are not part of the management of wolves, especially while unmanaged wolves remain at numbers well above the recovery objective.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will manage wolves responsibly. We have adopted a wolf management plan designed to ensure the long-term health of the region's wolf population, with provisions for hunting seasons focused on areas where wolves and livestock clash and places where big game herds are in trouble.

Fish and Game Annual Wolf Report Available

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has completed its annual report, summarizing wolf activity and related management in Idaho during 2008.

The report has been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is available online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

During 2008, biologists documented 88 resident wolf packs in Idaho that were alive at the end of the year. The minimum population was estimated at 846 wolves. Of the 60 packs known to have reproduced, 39 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These 60 reproductive packs produced at least 192 pups.

In addition, biologists document 16 border packs whose territories overlap the state boundaries with Montana and Wyoming and likely spent some time in Idaho.

In Idaho, wolf packs ranged from the Canadian border south to Interstate Highway 84, and from the Washington and Oregon borders east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves were occasionally reported in previously unoccupied areas, and the increase in our minimum population estimate appears to be a result of range expansion, primarily in the Panhandle, and an increase in average pack size used for calculating the population.

Biologists also documented 16 previously unknown packs during 2008, but there was a net increase of only five documented packs in the state. New packs and wolves attempted to recolonize within the Southern Mountains, but they became involved in livestock conflicts and were removed.

During 2008, 496 wolf observations were reported on Fish and Game's online website report form.

Youths Enjoy Mentored Late Season Pheasant Hunt

On a cold blustery Sunday in March, when most folks were watching the game or sacking out on the couch, two young hunters and their mentors went into the field for a late season pheasant hunt.

They hunted The Flying B Ranch in Kamiah. Yes, upland bird seasons normally close on December 31, but hunting on licensed shooting preserves is permitted into April.

Tommy Macadow and Sarah Fischer of Grangeville were invited to the Ranch as part of an annual effort from Flying B owner, Bob Burlingame, and Idaho Fish and Game, to keep Idaho's hunting culture alive and well.

The Flying B sponsors many youth hunts throughout the season. The previous week, 20 graduates of local hunter education classes in the area were invited to the Ranch for a day of instruction and hunting.

George Fischer, Idaho Fish and Game district conservation officer from Grangeville praised The "B", its employees and Burlingame for being "outstanding neighbors in the community."

"Even in these brutal economic times, the Ranch is keeping focused on our area kids," Fischer said. "Their generosity is second to none. The kids have a great day at the Ranch. Lessons learned in safe practices, making good decisions, respect for others and having a strong ethical code will last these kids a life time. I have had several youth hunters come up to me after the hunt and say ÔMr. Fischer, this has been the best day of my life.'"

In addition to Fischer, Senior Conservation Officer Roy Kinner and Idaho County Deputy Mike Brewster assisted the hunters. Fischer and Brewster's hunting dogs, Ginger and Haus, were also a vital part of the day's success.

The day started off with some practice and refining shot gun skills at The B's sporting clay range. Tommy gave the coaches some fine examples of how it's done, and 99 percent of his shots were clean kills on the clay targets.

Sarah broke her first two clays of her budding shooting career.