Press Release

May 2009

Nutrient Enhancement and Salmon Season Highlight Sportsmen's Meeting

The Clearwater Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will provide coffee and donuts at a sportsmen's meeting Tuesday, June 2, at 3316 16th St., Lewiston.

The meeting begins at 6:30 a.m. and will include presentations on the Dworshak Reservoir nutrient enhancement program, as well as reports on the spring Chinook season, current wolf status, volunteer opportunities, and other related activities

The meeting is open to anyone interested in wildlife and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about local wildlife issues.

For more information, contact the Fish and Game in Lewiston at 208-799-5010.

Ask the Conservation Officer

By Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "What are the laws about what citizens can do to protect themselves and their property from wolves?"

Answer: The answer is spelled out in Idaho Code 36-1107(c).

In part this law says: "Wolves may be disposed of without permit by livestock or domestic animal owners, their employees, agents and animal damage control personnel when they are molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals."

The law goes onto require anyone who kills a wolf while protecting their property to report the incident to Fish and Game within 72 hours. All wolves killed remain property of the state.

The public may take any nonlethal steps necessary to protect their property. If wolves are not attacking or molesting domestic animals, a permit must be obtained in order to kill a wolf.

For the purposes of this law "molesting" means the "actions of a wolf that are annoying, disturbing, or persecuting, especially with hostile intent or injurious effect, or chasing, driving, flushing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or stalking or lying in wait for, livestock or domestic animals."

The bottom-line is:

- Nonlethal measures, such as scare guns, are allowed any time to protect domestic animals.

- If domestic animals are being attacked, pursued, stalked, or if the domestic animals are responding to the presence of a wolf, such as running in flight or fight, lethal measures are allowed without a permit or authorization.

- If the wolf is not in hunting mode and the domestic animals show no concern by the presence of a wolf or if the wolves move off and run away, they cannot be pursued and shot without a permit or authorization from Fish and Game.

- A person may protect his or her property, but once the immediate threat of injury is over they may no longer kill the wolf.

Chinook Season Set on the Upper Salmon River

On May 14 the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved Chinook salmon seasons for several river reaches in Idaho, including the upper Salmon River between the city of Salmon and the Sawtooth Hatchery near Stanley.

Unlike other salmon fisheries in the state, when the season opens in the upper Salmon River on June 20, no harvest of Chinook less than 24 inches in total length, commonly referred to as jacks, will be allowed. A number of anglers have inquired why.

Simply put, the Chinook jack closure is intended to protect adult sockeye salmon. This year, fish managers estimate as many as 600 adult sockeye will return to the upper Salmon River. Sockeye are similar in size and could be easily confused with a jack Chinook. Sockeye will be returning to the upper river at about the same time as Chinook, and it is important to prevent the unintentional harvest of a sockeye by Chinook salmon anglers.

In the upper Salmon River, sockeye will be concentrated in greater numbers, and their susceptibility to harvest is greater than in lower reaches of the Salmon River.

Sockeye are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and their protection and recovery are important to Idaho. While the Chinook jack closure is an inconvenience and a lost opportunity for anglers, it provides an extra degree of protection to one of Idaho's most imperiled fishes.

That extra degree of protection for sockeye helps fish managers in the process of opening and managing Chinook salmon fisheries in the upper Salmon River.

Salmon Bag Limit Cut in the Lower Clearwater River

No adult Chinook salmon may be taken on the mainstem Clearwater River downstream of the Cherrylane Bridge effective at the end of fishing hours Monday, May 25.

But anglers may still keep four Chinook salmon less than 24 inches in total length, commonly referred to as jacks, per day in that stretch of river until further notice.

Reducing the bag limit of Chinook salmon greater than 24 inches, commonly referred to as adults, downstream of Cherrylane Bridge is intended to provide salmon fishing opportunities for upstream communities, such as Orofino, Kamiah, Kooskia and Grangeville, while still allowing anglers a chance to catch some of this year's relatively abundant jack returns.

If anglers harvest an adult Chinook upstream of Cherrylane Bridge, they must cease fishing for salmon for the day in the Clearwater River drainage, including downstream of Cherrylane Bridge.

Only hatchery salmon with a clipped adipose fin (as evidenced by a healed scar) may be kept in Idaho's nontribal Chinook fishery.

Idaho Fish and Game fishery managers estimate that as of May 17, anglers had harvested about 20 percent of the state's harvest share of adult hatchery Chinook returning to the Clearwater River drainage. Most of these fish were caught downstream of the Cherrylane Bridge, and to date, Idaho Fish and Game has not checked any harvested fish upstream of the Orofino Bridge.

Managers forecast that by May 25, more than 55 percent of the nontribal harvest share of adult Chinook will have been caught. Harvest is estimated by weekly angler surveys.

Anglers must have a valid 2009 Idaho fishing license and salmon permit, and they are urged to consult the 2009 Idaho spring Chinook salmon rules brochure for details.

Time Now To Sign Up For Depredation Hunts

The sign-up period to participate in depredation hunts this year runs through June 30.

Special controlled hunts are sometimes used to relieve big game damage problems on agricultural crops. If these hunts are needed, they will be held on short notice, involve small areas and be limited to a few hunters.

Any Idaho resident with a valid hunting or combination license may participate, but hunters may apply in only one region for a given species.

For more information and an application form check pages 73 and 74 in the big game rule book. Fill out the form and mail it to the regional office in the areas hunters are willing to hunt.

The forms may be copied if necessary. All applications received before June 30 will be placed in random order. All applications received after June 30 will be placed at the end of the list in the order received. The list will be valid from July 1 to the following June 30.

Most regions issue only a handful of depredation permits each year. If a controlled antlerless or doe-fawn hunt is open or about to open in the depredation area, holders of permits in that area will be given the first option to participate in the depredation hunt. After antlerless or doe-fawn controlled hunts have ended, participants will be selected in order from the depredation hunt list.

Generally, applications received after June 30 have little chance of being selected.

Deadline Closing in on Super Hunt Drawing

There's still time to enter the drawing for the hunt of a lifetime.

Entries in the first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Idaho Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 for the first drawing set for June 15.

Fish and Game's Super Hunt drawing is a fund-raising drawing for 40 big game tags. The tags are handed out to winners in two drawings. Tickets are drawn for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose. That includes general hunts and controlled hunts.

The first drawing in June will be for eight elk, eight deer, and eight antelope hunts as well as one moose hunt; one "Super Hunt Combo" ticket also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, antelope, and moose.

A second drawing will be in mid-August when another "Super Hunt Combo" and tickets for two elk, two deer, and two antelope hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11.

Entries not drawn in the first drawing will not be entered in the second drawing.

Hunters can take an animal or animals on their Super Hunt or Super Hunt Combo tags in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which helps assure hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners.

F&G Wants Comments on Bear Lake Management Plan

Idaho Fish and Game managers are seeking comments on a proposed fishery management plan for Bear Lake.

The 2009-2013 Bear Lake Fisheries Management Plan is a joint effort by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The two agencies share management authority for the fisheries of Bear Lake and cooperated in the development of this management plan.

The plan outlines goals and objectives for sport fishing and conservation goals for endemic and native fish populations.

Management goals in this plan have been presented to interested anglers in the Bear Lake area for guidance on general direction of the plan. Fish and Game wants to solicit public comment on the proposed plan before seeking formal approval by the commission.

Bear Lake has four endemic fish species: Bear Lake whitefish, Bonneville whitefish, Bonneville cisco and Bear Lake sculpin. The plan lays out a cooperative approach between the two states to manage these species, and the primary sport fish of the lake, the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

The 70,000 acre Bear Lake, in the southeast corner of Idaho, straddles the Utah-Idaho border, which roughly bisects the 20-mile long lake.

An electronic version of the plan is available for review and comment on the Fish and Game Web site at

Copies of the plan can be obtained by contacting Scott Grunder, Native Species Coordinator, at 208-287-2774.

Send written comments to Bear Lake Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello ID 83204.

All comments are due by June 19.

Ask Fish and Game: Keeping Road Kill

Q. If I find a dead animal along the road, can I keep it?

A. It is illegal to pick up wildlife hit by vehicles. Protected wildlife that has died of natural or accidental causes is considered the property of the state. Parts of animals that have died from natural causes may be kept for personal use. These parts, such as horns, antlers, skulls, teeth, bear and lion parts, may be sold or bartered. The horns of bighorn sheep that have died of natural causes must be pinned by Fish and Game if kept, but they may not be sold.

Nesting Swans at Sand Creek Delay Access

The continued attempts of trumpeter swans to nest at the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area means that Idaho Fish and Game will again delay opening access to parts of the area until July 1.

Areas specifically restricted from fishing and public access until July 1 include Ponds 2 and 4 in the main pond complex.

"Access is being restricted because the nesting swans are generally intolerant of disturbance by humans, especially with younger pairs or nests established in areas of low human activity," area manager Josh Rydalch said.

This is the 16th year that Fish and Game has closed these spots that are otherwise popular on the opening weekend of fishing season.

"Without the closures, the chances are good that human disturbance would cause the swans to abandon their nests, resulting in a loss of production for the year," Rydalch said.

Successful nesting of trumpeter swans is a concern because the birds are a priority species under the Species of Special Concern designation in Idaho. That means they are to receive as much protection as necessary to promote successful reproduction. Past closures have proven successful and have helped trumpeter swan population numbers rebound from their lowest point in a half a century.

In 1996, for example, Sand Creek had three of the 12 active nests in the Upper Snake Region - the entire state of Idaho had only 21 - and produced eight of 31 cygnets hatched in the Upper Snake - only 51 hatched in the entire state that year. For unknown reasons, however, only one of the eight cygnets survived to flight stage, which illustrates how delicate the process of trumpeter swan reproduction is.

Sand Creek is the only wildlife management area in the state to host nesting trumpeter swans. Last year none of the nests at Sand Creek produced any eggs that hatched. Unfortunately, this occurred across the state at sites that previously had been productive.

Horsethief Reservoir Needs 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 currently 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 situated within 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

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

By Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: What's this I hear the Fish and Game Department is 110 years old? I thought the Department began in 1938.

Answer: May 5, 2009, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game celebrates 110 years of fish and wildlife conservation in Idaho.

This statement may confuse some people because 1938 has become a common reference point for the public and most current employees relative to Fish and Game's beginnings.

On May 5, 1899, Gov. Frank Steunenberg appointed Charles H. Arbuckle as Idaho's first state game warden, who was assigned the task of creating a statewide department to enforce the 1864 game laws. From 1899 to 1938, 15 men held the title of state game warden that is synonymous with the Fish and Game director today.

In 1939, with the passage of the 1938 Fish and Game Commission Act by initiative petition, the governor would appoint a Fish and Game Commission and the commission would select a person for the position of director. Thirteen directors have been appointed to date.

The state game wardens came from various walks of life, employed in many different professions, some holding prominent positions in state and federal government either before or after serving as state game warden.

The first state game warden was a representative from Owyhee County at the time of his appointment and would later become a member of the Boise police force and a U.S. marshal and there was yet another who would also become a U.S. marshal. There were also sheriffs, engineers, lawyers, newspaper owners and editors, postmasters, druggists, farmers, and miners. These men were very different but each took their position as state game warden seriously. They brought to Fish and Game new thoughts and ideas and a desire to protect and propagate Idaho's fish and wildlife resources.

Bear Hunters: Season Closed May 15 in Some Units

Lewiston area black bear hunters are reminded that the spring hunting season extension in big game management units 14, 15 and 18 does not go into effect until spring 2010.

This change for 2010, designed to allow additional hunting opportunity, involves extending the spring season in units 14, 15 and 18 by 16 days to end May 31, 2010. The 2009 season in these units closed May 15.

Big game seasons are adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March for seasons that take place during the upcoming fall and the spring of the next year. As a result, spring bear and lion seasons are set well in advance and all information concerning the 2009 spring black bear season can be reviewed in the 2008 big game rules brochure.

Hunters are also reminded that certain units in the Clearwater Region allow the use of bait and dogs, while others do not. Hunters who have obtained permits to hunt over bait must remove all bait containers, materials and any structure constructed at bait sites within seven days after the close of the season.

Successful bear hunters are required to present both the skull and hide to an Idaho Fish and Game regional office, conservation officer or official checkpoint for removal of a premolar and have the pelt tagged within 10 days of harvest. Successful hunters are also required to remove all bear meat from the field.