Press Release

May 2009

What is the 21X deer hunt?

Dead deer along the side of roads in Salmon Region are a common sight.

They are an unfortunate product of our desire to reach our destinations quickly, relatively high deer numbers on agricultural lands and along river corridors, and fragmentation of deer habitat by roads and fences.

Motor vehicle-deer collisions are a common problem throughout the U.S., accounting for millions of dollars of damage as well as human injuries and deaths. These collisions arise from a complex set of circumstances, so there is no simple solution.

What steps can reduce collisions with deer and other wildlife?

  • Reduce driving speed or avoid driving at times when deer are more active or more likely to be near roads: at dawn and dusk; during spring and fall migrations in April-May and November-December; and during winter. Research shows the most effective way to reduce collisions is reducing vehicle speed. These steps also reduce fuel costs.
  • Stay alert and look for deer and other wildlife along side the road, particularly in areas signed as wildlife crossings. Keep in mind other animals may be following those that already crossed the road.

What are state agencies doing to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions?

Ask Fish and Game: Controlled Hunt Process

Q. How does the controlled draw hunt system work?

A. Here is a simplified version of how the controlled hunt drawing system works: The procedure has been computerized since 1973 and was certified random by Boise State University professors in 1977. Every applicant has the same chance of drawing. Officials verify that applicants meet all of the eligibility requirements to draw a permit. Each application is then assigned a randomly generated number, which is then scrambled and coded before being drawn by the computer system. The computer, located in the state controller's office, selects the successful applicants from the entire application file of eligible applicants.

When a group of people enter on the same application, the group is assigned a single application number, and the system will recognize only one application number. That means a group has the same chance of drawing as an individual.

The controlled hunt drawing system processes all first choice hunts in the first round. The system then does a second drawing to fill any open hunts with second choice hunts. No person can draw a second choice before that hunt has been filled by first choice people.

When residents and nonresidents enter on the same application, the chances of drawing are limited to the nonresident chances. Nonresidents are limited to up to 10 percent of the permits available in any individual controlled hunt. In a controlled hunt with 100 permits, for example, nonresidents can draw up to 10 permits. If, after drawing 90 applications, the computer draws an application and finds it includes a nonresident, it checks to see whether a permit is available for a nonresident. If 10 nonresidents already have drawn permits for that hunt, the computer simply goes to the next application.

Apply Now for Controlled Hunts, Win Big Bucks

There's still time to be eligible for Idaho Fish and Game's annual early application contest for 2009 controlled hunts.

The application period for this fall's deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear and turkey controlled hunts continues through June 5.

Hunters must have a 2009 Idaho hunting license to 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. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications.

But hunters who apply early avoid the last-minute rush, and they also have a chance to win cash. Idaho Fish and Game's annual early application contest for 2009 for those controlled hunts will be handing out one $550 prize and one $450 prize to two lucky winners.

It's too late for the May 15 deadline, but hunters who get their applications in by Tuesday, May 19, will still be eligible to win $450 in the May 22 drawing.

Others not applying for a controlled hunt may submit their name, age, address, and telephone number on a 3- by 5-inch piece of plain paper to: IDFG Early Application Contest, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

The drawing is funded by Outdoor Central, a part of Active Network, and sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The drawing encourages hunters to apply early and helps avoid last-minute congestion on license vendor computer terminals.

Lowered Chinook Forecast Results in Season Changes

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 14, approved changes in Chinook salmon seasons and limits on the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.

A greatly reduced Chinook salmon run this year - from one half to one third of the predicted numbers - will also affect Chinook seasons in Idaho.

Effective Monday, May 18, the daily and possession limits have been changed on the Clearwater, the North Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, and the Lochsa rivers.

The Middle Fork Clearwater River will close effective Monday, May 18.

The limit is four salmon, but only one may be 24 inches or more in total length, whichever comes first. The possession limit is 12 salmon, three of which may be 24 inches or more in total length, whichever comes first.

The affected waters are:

  • Clearwater River, mainstem - Lower: From the Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge near Lewiston, upstream to the Cherrylane Bridge.
  • Clearwater River, mainstem - Middle: From the Cherrylane Bridge upstream to the Orofino Bridge.
  • Clearwater River, mainstem - Upper: From the Orofino Bridge upstream to the South Fork Clearwater River.
  • North Fork Clearwater River: From its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater River: From its mouth to the confluence of the American and Red rivers.
  • Middle Fork Clearwater River: From its confluence with the South Fork upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.
  • Lochsa River: From its mouth to the Twin Bridges, immediately upstream from the confluence of Crooked Fork and Colt Killed creeks.

Chinook salmon anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eight inch. Snagging or attempting to snag salmon is unlawful.

South Fork and Upper Salmon Chinook Fishery Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 14, adopted Chinook fishing seasons on the South Fork Salmon and Upper Salmon rivers, and changed the limits on parts of the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers.

South Fork Salmon River

On the lower South Fork, the season opens June 20 and runs through July 5 or until further notice, whichever comes first. On the upper South Fork Salmon River, the season opens June 20 and run until further notice.

Fishing hours for Chinook salmon will be from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

The daily bag limit is six Chinook salmon, no more than two may be 24 inches or more in total, whichever comes first. The possession limit is 18 Chinook salmon, no more than six may be 24 inches or more in total length, whichever comes first.

Affected waters open for Chinook fishing are:

  • South Fork Salmon River mainstem - Lower: from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 (Lick Creek/East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the mainstem South Fork Salmon River just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 16 river miles to a posted boundary about one mile upstream from Fourmile Campground (about two miles downstream from Poverty Flat Campground).
  • South Fork Salmon River mainstem - Upper: from a posted boundary about one mile upstream from Fourmile Campground (about two miles downstream from Poverty Flat Campground) upstream about 17 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.

Upper Salmon River

The season opens June 20 and runs until further notice. Fishing hours for Chinook salmon will from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon 24 inches or more in total length. The possession limit is six Chinook 24 inches or more in length.

Gearing Up for Kokanee Fishing

By Martin Koenig, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The warm weather may finally be here to stay, and to many anglers across the state, warm weather means kokanee fishing.

With kokanee fisheries scattered across the state, opportunities abound for anyone to experience these exciting game fish. But before talking about catching kokanee, let's review the basics of kokanee biology.

Kokanee are land-locked sockeye salmon and are found in many lakes and reservoirs across Idaho. Their native range spans from the Columbia River basin to Alaska and includes Idaho. They are also one of the state's most colorful game fish.

During spring and summer, kokanee have bright silvery sides, blue-green shiny backs and lack spots entirely. In the fall, as mature kokanee prepare to spawn, they become bright red with green heads. Males develop a humped back and a long snout with prominent teeth.

Kokanee often migrate into rivers and streams to spawn, but some populations build their nests on gravelly lake shorelines. They prefer cold, clear lakes with water temperatures from 50 to 60 degrees.

They can be found near the surface early in the summer, but they tend to move into deeper waters as temperatures rise. In mid to late summer, kokanee are often found at 30 to 60 feet or more in their search for cold water and the best supply of zooplankton. Kokanee feed mainly on zooplankton, which are microscopic invertebrates that drift in the water column.

Fish and Game stocks kokanee annually in lakes and reservoirs that do not produce kokanee naturally or in places where natural spawning may not produce enough fish to sustain sport fishing demands.

Three-Day Birds of Prey Festival Starts Friday

The new Snake River Birds of Prey Festival, celebrating the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, is set to be launched Friday.

The festival, a three-day birding event on Friday through Sunday, May 15-17, at Reed Elementary School in Kuna, recognizes one of Idaho's hidden gems near Boise in the Snake River Canyon - home to the largest population of nesting raptors in North America.

Western Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, hopes to make the festival an annual event.

During the early 1960s, Morley Nelson, a Boise resident, discovered a rich diversity of raptors and animals that call the Snake River Canyon home. For nearly 30 years Morley worked to protect the raptors and their habitat.

Recognizing Nelson's work, former Secretary of the Interior and Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus and then-Idaho Rep. Larry LaRocco were instrumental in establishing a national conservation area to protect the raptor's habitat. In 1993, Congress set aside 485,000 acres of public land known today as the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

Bureau of Land Management statistics indicate that more than 100,000 people annually visit the conservation area from all over the United States and the world.

The Foundation, the Boise District BLM Office and Idaho Fish and Game organized the birding festival to recognize and celebrate the national conservation area. Participants will have an opportunity for an up-close experience with birds of prey.

Ask Fish and Game: Family Fishing Waters?

Q. Where is a good place to take a youngster fishing?

A. Family Fishing Waters are great places to take the family fishing. They are easy to get to and have plenty of fish to catch. Each of Idaho Fish and Game's seven regions across the state can answer your questions and get you and your family started on the road to fishing. Or find local Family Fishing Waters at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ffw/.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

By Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "You haven't had any Ask the CO articles in the paper for a couple months. What's been going on?"

Answer: I must apologize I occasionally run out of ideas for articles or struggle to meet media deadlines. However, there has been a lot going on this spring in the Magic Valley.

Planting bitterbrush has become a traditional spring time activity across southern Idaho. This project is mostly completed by volunteers and conservation groups and focuses on mule deer winter range rehab as a result of fire. This spring 459 volunteers planted 41,600 bitterbrush seedlings across the region.

Habitat biologists are also busy working on habitat projects such as food plots and shelter belts on wildlife management areas as well as extension projects with private landowners. They also work closely with the BLM and U.S. Forest Service on habitat projects such as juniper thinning and aspen regeneration.

Another repeat project involves trapping and transplanting sharp-tailed grouse. An Idaho native prairie grouse; these birds are captured on their spring dancing grounds called leks in the Rockland and Sublett areas. The relocation site this spring was House Creek in unit 46/47.

In the past sharp-tails were traded for turkeys from Washington and mountain quail from Oregon. A new project this fall will involve trapping birds for relocation to the Camas Prairie near Fairfield.

In cooperation with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, biologists and conservation officers radio collared 12 wintering elk in the Mayfield area along Interstate 84. This is an effort to identify transition ranges for elk between summer and winter. To date the majority of these elk have moved east across US Highway 20 into the Bennett Hills.

Wolf Delisting Rule Becomes Final

The federal rule that removes gray wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list became final today, Monday, May 4.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's delisting rule affects wolves in Idaho, Montana, parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Wolves in Wyoming will remain on the endangered species list.

Idaho has again taken over managing wolves under state law adopted in 2008 and under a wolf population management plan also adopted last year.

"We have to move on and manage them similar to other big game animals," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "This is good news for wolves, elk, rural communities and hunters. I believe this action will help defuse the animosity and anger associated with wolves when we can manage wolves in concert with our other big game species."

Under state law, wolves that are molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals may be killed by livestock or animal owners without a permit from Fish and Game. But the incident must be reported to the Fish and Game director within 72 hours.

The wolves killed would remain the property of the state. Livestock and domestic animal owners may take all nonlethal steps they deem necessary to protect their property.

A permit must be obtained from Fish and Game to control wolves not molesting or attacking livestock or domestic animals.

Fish and Game would apply the same professional wildlife management practices to wolves that it has applied to all big game species, which all have recovered from low populations during the early 1900s. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March set wolf hunting seasons for the fall of 2009.

Seasons will be from September 1 through March 31 in the Lolo and Sawtooth wolf management zones; from September 15 through December 31 in the Selway and Middle Fork zones; and elsewhere from October 1 through December 31.

Commissioners will set harvest quotas in August. Tags are not yet available.

Spotlighting Grangeville Poacher Sentenced

With the white-tailed deer in his spotlight, William Gerten, 24, of Grangeville, shot it several times with a .22-caliber rifle on a cold night about a week before Christmas in 2008.

He hit the deer, but he didn't kill it. Using the rifle as a club, he beat the deer to death, breaking the stock on its head.

Nearby, an off-duty Idaho Fish and Game senior conservation officer was on a hunting trip. As he peered out of his tent near the South Fork of the Clearwater River, the officer, Randy Martinez, noticed spotlights working a hill.

He alerted George Fischer, the district conservation officer in Grangeville of the suspicious activity. Fischer contacted Idaho County Sheriff's Deputy Zack Nichols, who was closer to the area, and asked him to respond.

Meanwhile, Martinez drove down the remote road and got a license plate number from the suspect vehicle as it passed through the area.

Gerten must have realized he was in trouble. He threw the deer, spotlights and rifle off a cliff to get rid of the evidence - too late.

Nichols arrived a short time later, and he and Martinez discovered a fresh warm gut pile in the 10-degree night near the area where Martinez had seen the spotlights.

Fischer knew the vehicle and the residence where it was usually parked in Grangeville. He coordinated with Grangeville Police Officer Wes Walters to watch for the vehicle.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Gerten's pickup truck was located at the residence. He denied any hunting activity that night. But Fischer noticed blood spatters in the back of the truck and shortly there after obtained a full confession.

Fischer, with Gerten's help, located and salvaged the deer and the evidence shortly before the sun came up that morning. Gerten was cited December 16.

On January 9, 2009, Gerten pleaded guilty in Idaho Magistrate Court in Grangeville to killing a deer during a closed season, using a spotlight and exceeding the bag limit.

Fish and Game Seeks Comments on Sandhill Changes

This year, Idaho Fish and Game proposes to simplify regulations and encourage participation in sandhill crane hunts.

There would be no controlled hunts for sandhill cranes. Instead tags would be sold over the counter first come-first served for $15 each.

Fish and Game is seeking comments on the proposal.

Changes include, an increased total of 680 sandhill crane tags available - 400 in Caribou and Bear Lake counties, 100 each in Teton and Fremont counties, and 40 each in Bonneville and Jefferson counties.

Crane season would run from September 1 through September 30 in Caribou and Bear Lake counties, and September 1 through September 15 in the rest of the areas.

The daily bag limit would remain at two cranes per day and nine for the season.

Anyone interested may read the proposed rules and enter comments online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/. Comment deadline is Friday, May 13.