Press Release

June 2009

Chinook Season: Limit Changed, Boise River Open

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Wednesday, July 1, changed the daily and possession limits for Chinook salmon in part of the Upper Salmon River, and opened a Chinook season in the Boise River.

The change affects the season in the Upper Salmon River from the city of Salmon upstream to the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River, and it allows anglers to keep Chinook salmon less than 24 inches total length.

A large number of jack Chinook salmon returning to Pahsimeroi Hatchery has crossed lower Columbia River and Snake River dams. They are expected to enter the Upper Salmon River fishing area before sockeye return to the upper Salmon basin, and only a few Chinook jacks are needed in spawning operations at the hatchery.

The commissioners modified the limits to allow anglers to keep Chinook jacks that they catch. The new daily bag limit on the reach from Salmon upstream to the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River is six fish, no more than two of which may be 24 or more inches in total length. The possession limit is 18 fish, with no more than six, 24 or more inches long.

Anglers are reminded that they may not harvest sockeye salmon. Most sockeye salmon, like the Chinook jacks, are less than 24 inches long. Information signs have been posted in the upper Salmon River fishing area to help anglers distinguish between sockeye and Chinook salmon. Any sockeye caught must be released unharmed.

Fish and Game officials expect few hatchery jack Chinook salmon to return to the Sawtooth Hatchery near Stanley this year. Keeping jacks in the Salmon River upstream of the Pahsimeroi River continues to be prohibited.

The commissioners also opened a Chinook salmon fishing season on the Boise River downstream of Barber Dam to run 24 hours a day from July 2 until September 6 or further notice. The daily limit is two salmon - regardless of size - and the possession limit is six salmon.

Controlled Hunt Drawing Results Online

Hunters who applied for elk, deer, pronghorn, fall turkey and black bear controlled hunts can check online to see whether they were successful in the recent computerized drawing.

Applicants can enter their hunting license numbers to find out instantly how they did in the drawing.

For controlled hunt drawing results go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/deab.cfm, and for controlled hunt odds, go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/odds.cfm.

Postcards will be mailed to successful applicants around July 10. Winners must buy controlled hunt tags by August 1. Unclaimed and leftover tags from the first drawing will be available in a second application period from August 5 through August 15.

Any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeited. After the second drawing, any left over tags are sold over the counter. Tags are sold at any license vendor, through the Internet at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/, or by telephone at 800-554-8685, starting August 25 at 10 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

For information on rules and dates for specific hunts consult the regulations brochure or the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. And those lucky enough to draw can use Fish and Game's hunt planner on the Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner to plan those fall hunts.

Bear Injures Hunter in Island Park

Three eastern Idaho bear hunters got an unpleasant surprise Sunday morning, June 28, when their hounds surrounded a female grizzly with cubs.

The bear took after the hunters, knocked one man down, bit him on the right arm and tossed him around.

The names of the three men haven't been released. All are from the Idaho Falls area and two are brothers. The victim was transported to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg. He suffered lacerations to his right arm but no other apparent injuries.

Idaho Fish and Game officials are in the area looking for the bear. But they warn area residents, other hunters and anyone in the backcountry that the bear may be wounded and dangerous.

The three men were hunting black bears with hounds about 6 a.m. Sunday, on Bishop Mountain near Harriman State Park.

They released their hounds on a scent, and the dogs soon surrounded what the men thought was a black bear. When the men arrived they quickly realized they had a grizzly.

The bear charged. The men ran.

When the bear knocked the victim down, his brother struggled to get his pistol out of his backpack. With the bear on top of his brother, he fired a shot from his .44 Magnum from five to eight feet away.

The bear let go, got up and ran off.

The man was not sure whether his shot hit the bear or not.

"We don't know whether the bear was hit, if we have a wounded bear, a dead bear or an unharmed bear," said John Hanson, Idaho Fish and Game regional conservation officer from St. Anthony.

The hunters reported they saw at least two cubs with the female grizzly.

Bear researchers are aware of a radio-collared bear with three cubs in the area. It is unknown at this time if it might be the same bear. But Fish and Game biologists are looking for a signal from a radio collar.

Officials with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Forest Service are assisting with the investigation.

Become a Hunter or Archery Education Instructor

Are you a safe and responsible rifle or archery hunter? Would you like to share your hunting skills with youth and others?

Becoming an Idaho hunter- or bowhunter-education instructor can be a rewarding volunteer activity, and it is easy. First you need to attend a new instructor orientation.

The Idaho Fish and Game Southeast Region will be holding a new instructor orientation at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at the Fish and Game regional office, at 1345 Barton Road.

New instructor orientation is free and outlines how to organize classes, select meeting sites, how to order supplies and how to get students registered and finally certified. Instructors learn how to use lesson plans, how to teach using various methods, and how to employ effective teaching styles in the classroom and at the range. All materials are provided.

The heart of Idaho's hunter and archery education program is the corps of volunteers who provide the instruction. Hunter and archery education instructors stand as examples of what each new hunter should be in ethics, behavior and responsibility to themselves, landowners, other hunters and the resource.

For more information and to register for hunter education instructor orientation please contact Terri Bergmeier at 208-251-6510.

Why Salmon Seasons Close

The river is full of salmon and fishing is just getting good, so why is Fish and Game closing the season?

Recreational salmon seasons close when a set number of fish have been caught, and that depends on the numbers of fish returning to Idaho. Returning hatchery raised adult salmon - marked by clipped adipose fin - are split among hatcheries and tribal and nontribal recreational fisheries.

The first priority is to ensure the hatcheries are filled to capacity - eggs are collected, hatched and raised, and the young released two years later as ocean-bound salmon.

The released smolts are marked with tags that can be read at several of the federal dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers when they return as adults. Data from these tags are used to estimate the numbers returning to each hatchery.

Numbers in excess of hatchery requirements are deemed harvestable.

The Rapid River Hatchery, for example, needs about 2,400 adult salmon and the McCall Fish Hatchery needs about 1,300 adult salmon, trapped in the South Fork Salmon River. Thus, if an estimated 4,400 salmon are bound for Rapid River, then about 2,000 "harvestable" fish would be split evenly between tribal and nontribal fisheries.

During the fishing season, Fish and Game monitors the harvest to ensure shares are not exceeded. When harvest shares are reached, seasons end even with many fish still in the river. Nontribal seasons sometime close earlier than tribal fisheries because there are more nontribal anglers, and their fishery often is downstream of the tribal fisheries.

Seasons also may end when a certain number of wild Chinook - listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act - are reported caught and released. The number is based on the percentage of wild salmon that die after being caught and released.

Comments Sought on Rules for Use of F&G Lands

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to rules governing public use of lands owned or controlled by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

These rules would help keep public use on Fish and Game lands consistent with wildlife habitat needs, public safety, and other management constraints. These rules were last updated in 1993.

On July 22-24, the commission will consider changes to these rules, including:

  • Allowing the Fish and Game director to delegate more authority to regional employees.
  • Clarifying several rules and definitions to make them more concise and easier to understand, such as better definitions of motorized vehicle and snowmobiles.
  • Defining designated roads and trails where motorized travel is allowed. They must be posted open or on a Fish and Game travel plan map.
  • Defining commercial use.
  • Without a permit, the new rules would prohibit:

    - Landing or launching aircraft.

    - Discharging paintball guns.

    - Placing of geocaches.

    - Leaving portable manufactured blinds unattended for more than half an hour. Similar to existing decoy rule.

  • Group events of over 15 people.
  • Use of non-certified weed-seed-free forage.

Public involvement is a critical component of rule making. Public comments help Fish and Game determine final proposed changes to be considered by the commissioners.

The proposed changes are available at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.

Written comments may be mailed to: Fish and Game Lands Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707. Please submit comments by July 17.

Rules adopted by the commission during the July meeting would undergo review by the 2010 Legislature, and if approved, become effective in 2010.

Sandhill Tags Go on Sale in August

There will be no controlled hunts for sandhill cranes this year.

Tags go on sale August 1 - first come, first served. The season starts September 1.

In six eastern Idaho counties, 680 sandhill crane permits are available. Of that total, 400 are available to hunters in Caribou and Bear Lake counties, 100 each in Teton and Fremont counties, and 40 each in Bonneville and Jefferson counties.

Crane season runs 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 is two cranes, and the season limit is nine.

Sandhill cranes are hunted in Idaho as an attempt to limit depredation to crops in eastern Idaho counties. Cranes are fully protected outside the three hunt areas, all in southeast Idaho.

Tags cost $15 and are available at any license vendor, Fish and Game office, by telephone at 1-800-554-8685, on the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, or by mail to IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID.

Rules for the 2009 crane season are in the 2009 Sandhill Crane Season and Information brochure available at license vendors statewide.

Watch Out For Tagged Fish

Anglers who like to fish Blackfoot Reservoir, the Blackfoot River or Alexander Reservoir, may find themselves involved in an interesting game of "tag" this summer.

That's because biologists with the southeast regional office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have begun tagging fish in these waters as part of separate studies on improving fish populations and angling experiences.

Anglers, who happen to catch a tagged cutthroat in Blackfoot Reservoir or the Blackfoot River, are asked to quickly release the fish without attempting to read the tag or record the tag number. Anglers are required to release all cutthroat caught in the reservoir and the river, tagged or not.

Anglers who catch tagged catfish from Alexander Reservoir may keep the fish, but Fish and Game asks anyone who does to report the catch and tag information to the regional office in Pocatello at 208-232-4703.

"We are tagging cutthroat in Blackfoot Reservoir and the Blackfoot River as part of the ongoing effort to assess impacts of pelican predation on the cutthroat trout population," said David Teuscher, regional fisheries manager for Fish and Game's southeast region. "We will be collecting data from the tagged fish at the trap on the Blackfoot River and from survey work that will occur in the reservoir."

Fish and Game has increased stocking of channel catfish in Alexander Reservoir over the past 10 years, which has improved angling and diversified opportunity in this fishery. The tagging study will help biologists estimate survival of hatchery fish, determine whether there is any natural production, and to help set future stocking goals.

On the cutthroat, small metal tags are attached to the jaw. Thin green tags are affixed to the back of the catfish next to the dorsal fin.

Anglers do not need to report any tagged fish caught in these southeast Idaho waters unless they keep a tagged catfish from Alexander Reservoir.

Ask Fish and Game: Controlled Hunt Results

Q. When will Fish and Game start posting deer, elk and pronghorn controlled hunt results on the Website?

A. Winners of the first deer, elk, pronghorn, and fall bear drawing will be notified by July 10. Winners in the drawing will be mailed a postcard notification. It is, however, the responsibility of the hunter to find out if they were successful in drawing a controlled hunt permit. Results will also be available by July 10 on the Idaho Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/. Hunters who were drawn must buy their tags by August 1 or the tags would be considered unclaimed.

Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

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:

Some Chinook Seasons Still Open

In a flurry of recent management actions aimed at stretching Chinook salmon fishing seasons, Fish and Game has opened some Chinook seasons and closed others.

As of Saturday, June 20, here's a summary of what's open, and for how long:

Upper Salmon River: Open until further notice. Fishing hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Only two adult Chinook 24 or more inches in total length may be kept. No jacks may be taken.

  • City of Salmon to Pahsimeroi River: from the cable car crossing at the USGS flow gauging station, about 150 yards downstream of Island Park in Salmon, upstream to the posted boundary at the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River.
  • Pahsimeroi River to East Fork Salmon River: from a posted boundary at the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River, upstream to a posted boundary at the mouth of the East Fork Salmon River.
  • East Fork Salmon River to Sawtooth Hatchery: from a posted boundary at the mouth of the East Fork Salmon River, upstream to a posted boundary, about 100 yards downstream of the weir at Sawtooth Hatchery south of Stanley.

South Fork Salmon River: Fishing hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

F&G Commission to Meet in McCall in July

Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet July 22-24 in McCall.

The meeting will start with public comment period at 7 p.m. July 22 at the Hunt Lodge in the Holiday Inn Express, 210 N. 3rd Street, McCall.

On the agenda for consideration by the commissioners are rules for all game animals, and for 2010-2011 fishing seasons. They also will consider nonresident deer and elk tag quotas and nonresident deer and elk tag outfitter set-aside.

Commissioners also will consider the release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery, expenditure of animal damage control funds and legislative proposals. They will hear a briefing on migratory game birds.