Press Release

December 2009

Eagles Shot in Bingham County

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information about the shooting of eagles in Bingham County.

A juvenile bald eagle was shot the morning of December 26 on Vambaur Road 900 South near the intersection with Sterling North Road 2200 West in Springfield.

This is the second eagle shooting reported to Idaho Fish and Game in Bingham County this year. October 23, a concerned citizen contacted Fish and Game anonymously through the Citizens Against Poaching hotline to report the shooting of a mature golden eagle on Section Road between Taber and Highway 26 in Bingham County.

Idaho Fish and Game reminds the public that bald eagles and golden eagles are protected under Idaho and federal law -- the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Shooting at or otherwise harming eagles, including destroying their nests and eggs is unlawful.

Anyone with any information regarding the shooting of these eagles or regarding any other wildlife violation, is encouraged to contact Tom Burkhart, senior conservation officer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, at 208-251-4507.

Anyone who would like to provide information anonymously may contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may be eligiblefor a reward.

Fish and Game Hosts Upland Game Open House

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host an open house to review proposed changes to upland game rules for the Southeast Region.

The public is invited to stop by anytime between 3 and 7 p.m. Monday, January 4, at the Fish and Game office, 1345 Barton Road in Pocatello, to review the proposed changes and provide comment.

Anyone who would like to comment, but is unable to attend the open house, is encouraged to contact Toby Boudreau, regional wildlife manager for the Southeast Region, by calling the Pocatello office at 232-4703, or via e-mail at toby.boudreau@idfg.idaho.gov.

Comments are due by 5 p.m. January 7.

Some of the proposed changes for the upland game regulations include:

  • Propose to extend pheasant season from 30 November to 31 December, and change shooting hours to begin a half hour before sunrise, instead of noon.
  • Propose to require non-toxic shot on the Sterling Wildlife Management Area. This rule will be submitted either for temporary rule-making or presented to the Fish and Game Commission in July. If approved by the commission, it would need legislative approval and could go into effect July 1, 2011.
  • Propose to increase controlled hunt tags for turkeys in Unit 71 spring seasons to 75 adult tags and 75 youth tags.
  • Propose to increase river otter quota to five otters per year.

The statewide proposed changes and a comment form also are available on the Idaho Fish and Game Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.

Wolf Hunters Reminded to Get New Tags

Hunters who want to pursue wolves after December 31, are reminded they will need a 2010 wolf tag.

And all hunters need a 2010 Idaho hunting license to hunt in the New Year.

Wolf hunt rules allow a hunter to take only one wolf per calendar year. Hunters who shoot a wolf between January 1 and March 31, 2010, will not be able to hunt wolves again until 2011.

Wolf hunting seasons already have closed in four wolf management zones where harvest limits have been reached. The season closed December 18 in the Palouse-Hells Canyon zone, November 17 in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, November 9 in the McCall-Weiser zone, and November 2 in the Upper Snake zone.

Elsewhere in the state wolf seasons remain open. But two additional zones are nearing their harvest limits. In the Southern Mountains, with a limit of 10, nine have been killed, leaving one wolf, and in the Middle Fork zone, with a limit of 17, hunters have taken 15, leaving two more wolves until that zone closes.

Wolf hunters are reminded to check the harvest limit in the wolf hunting zones they intend to hunt. Idaho Department of Fish and Game set wolf harvest limits by 12 zones. The season closes in each zone when the limit for that zone is reached, or when the statewide limit of 220 wolves is reached, or on March 31, whichever comes first.

As of Wednesday, December 30, the statewide hunter harvest was at 136 wolves.

To find out whether a zone is open, call 877-872-3190. The Fish and Game wolf harvest Web page is updated less frequently, but provides a zone map and other useful information: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/wolf/quota.cfm.

Wolf hunters are required by state law to report within 24 hours of harvesting a wolf and then must present the hide and skull to a Fish and Game conservation officer or regional office within five days.

Upland game season, chili feed planned

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host an upland, turkey, and furbearer public open house from 3-9 p.m. January 7, 2010, at the Magic Valley Region Fish and Game office in Jerome.

This open house will coincide with the Sportsmen's Chili Feed and Cook-off scheduled for the same evening.

"It will be a great opportunity for people to come and comment on proposed season changes and participate in the Chili Feed and Cook-off," said Randy Smith, regional fish and game wildlife manager.

Proposed changes include:

  • Changing the starting time of the pheasant season opener to begin a half hour before sunrise, instead of noon.
  • Requiring steel shot for pheasants on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked.
  • Eliminating a beaver trapping closure in Lincoln County.

While looking over the statewide upland proposals, sportsmen are invited to bring their favorite chili or just come and try the different flavors on for size.

"It is a great event," said Jerome Hansen, Fish and Game regional supervisor. "Last year we had over 20 chili entries, and more than 60 sportsmen attended.

"Doug Palmer won the cook off with his twist on duck chili, but there were several others nipping at his heels."

After the feed, Fish and Game staff members will provide updates on the past year's activities and answer questions about Magic Valley fishing and hunting opportunities.

If you are unable to attend one the meetings but would like to provide input on the proposals, you may contact Fish and Game at 324-4350 or go on-line to fishandgame.idaho.gov to complete the statewide season setting survey.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game directly at 208-324-4359 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).

Big Game Meetings Set in Southeast Region

With 2009 drawing to a close and a new year on the horizon, it is time for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to begin planning the big game regulations for the 2010 hunting season.

An important part of the planning process is hearing from the public.

Please join the southeast regional office of Idaho Fish and Game at a series of big game public meetings throughout the Southeast Region. All meetings will start at 6:30 p.m.

  • January 5, Montpelier - National Oregon-California Trail Center.
  • January 6, Malad - Malad Senior Center.
  • January 7, Soda Springs - Soda Springs Senior Center.
  • January 12, Preston - Larsen-Sant Library.
  • January 13, Pocatello - ISU Pond Student Union Building, Wood River Room.

Fish and Game staff will present fall 2009 check station data, review the mule deer management plan, discuss last fall's controlled hunts as well as Idaho's first wolf hunting seasons, and address other hunting and big game management related issues.

Public comment is welcome at these meetings, and an important part of managing wildlife resources in southeastern Idaho.

"The public uses the resource, and so we want to understand how the public wants it managed," said Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator for the southeast region of Fish and Game. "That doesn't mean we can make all hunters happy all the time, but we try our best to mesh what hunters want with what's best for the resource."

Fish and Game will use this information to help prepare proposals for hunting deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, wolf and mountain lion, and then present those proposals to the public again later in February.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Toby Boudreau at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 232-4703 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD).

Spring Steelhead Season Opens Friday

The spring steelhead season starts Friday, January 1, but anglers will need a 2010 fishing license and steelhead permit to fish on New Year's Day.

Spring steelhead season opens on the:

  • Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
  • Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
  • Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:

  • On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
  • On the Little Salmon River the season runs through May 15.
  • On the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam upstream to Oxbow Dam, and on the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.

Steelhead are in the Snake River between the Hells Canyon and Oxbow dams and the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. Here steelhead are defined as rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin.

This year about 1,500 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River; a similar number was stocked in the Snake River below the Oxbow Dam. Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead.

Elk Poachers Plead Guilty

Ignoring a hunter check station has cost two Boise men more than just the $121 fine for failure to stop.

Derek Smith, 41, and Joseph Eden, 38, both of Boise, pleaded guilty in Fourth District Court in Ada County this month to possession of three unlawfully taken elk. Both had their hunting privileges revoked for the next decade.

In mid-October, Smith was pulled over for failing to stop at a Fish and Game check station along State Highway 21. During an ensuing conversation, Smith claimed to have killed a female elk on a controlled hunt antlerless elk tag earlier in the hunting season, and then later changed his story.

Further investigation uncovered additional evidence linking Smith with Eden, and search warrants were eventually secured for the residences of both men.

Hidden in a storeroom in Smith's residence, officers discovered a 6x7 set of antlers from an elk poached earlier in the year by Smith. Officers also learned that Smith had killed a spike elk using a rifle during the 2008 archery season.

Officers searching the Eden residence found Eden in the process of butchering the bull elk that belonged to the 6 x 7 set of elk antlers seized from Smith's residence. Officers also discovered evidence of a female elk poached by Eden during the 2008 elk hunting season.

Though the men poached all three elk in Boise County, Smith and Eden were charged with unlawful possession of big game animals in Ada County. In the District Court in Ada County on October 28, the two men initially pleaded innocent to poaching three elk in just over a 12-month period.

"It's a sad fact that for some people, killing wildlife illegally is a routine matter," Senior Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes said. "These animals are true trophies that many Idaho sportsmen would love to have the opportunity to hunt."

Facing multiple charges, the two men changed their pleas to guilty December 16.

Fish & Game Biologists to Count, Capture Elk

Wildlife biologists from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will soon take to the skies in an effort to assess the size and health of elk herds in the Garden Valley and Lowman area.

During January and early February, Fish and Game field staff plans to conduct low-level helicopter surveys for elk in portions of the Sawtooth zone (units 33 and 35). Plans also call for capturing and placing radio collars on some elk during the effort.

"Using a helicopter allows us to accurately census a wide area in a short time and capture study animals quickly and efficiently," Fish and Game wildlife research biologist Craig White said.

For more information regarding big game survey and capture efforts in the area contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465.

Commissioners Approve Land Acquisitions

Meeting by conference call Wednesday, December 23, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved two proposed land acquisitions.

The commissioners authorized Idaho Fish and Game to buy two parcels offered by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation at about half of the appraised value.

One parcel borders the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Upper Snake Region; the other borders the Georgetown Summit Wildlife Management Area in the Southeast Region. Both include critical mule deer and elk winter range, as well as upland habitat.

The Tex Creek parcel is 700 acres, 380 in native habitat and 320 in dry cropland. The Georgetown parcel is 895 acres, all in native habitat. Together the two would cost $550,000. Fish and Game would make four installments of $137,550 each.

Fees in lieu of taxes would be $340 for the Tex Creek parcel, and $180 for the Georgetown parcel. The counties have been notified of Fish and Game intent to buy the parcels.

There would be no additional management costs, because both already are managed by Fish and Game and would continue to be managed as part of the wildlife management areas.

F&G to Land Helicopters in Wilderness to Collar Wolves

The U.S. Forest Service has issued Idaho Fish and Game a special use permit to land helicopters in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in the winter of 2010.

Fish and Game is pleased with the action that provides its biologists with the tools needed to dart and radio-collar wolves encountered during routine aerial big game surveys by landing helicopters in the wilderness area. The Forest Service permit provides for landing up to 20 times to support radio-collaring of up to 12 wolves.

Biologists want to do the radio-collaring in winter because they will be in the Middle Fork Zone doing aerial surveys anyway, and wolves are easier to find in winter than in other seasons. In addition, fewer people visit the wilderness in winter.

Information from the radio collars would help Fish and Game document the wolf population and movements within the wilderness. The data also would help meet wolf management requirements, including the Endangered Species Act, which requires Idaho monitor wolves within the state for five years following their delisting in May 2009.

Fourteen years of efforts to trap and collar wolves in wilderness on foot and by horseback have proved largely unsuccessful, Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said in his request to the Forest Service. Fish and Game's request followed congressional guidelines for state wildlife management activities using aircraft in federal wilderness areas.

More information is available at the Salmon-Challis National Forest Web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/sc/projects/.

Egin-Hamer Area Closes January 1

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management and Fremont County are once again closing the Egin-Hamer area, starting January 1 through the winter to protect wintering wildlife in this area.

The Egin-Hamer closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry to protect wintering deer, elk and moose herds. The closure lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of the road. Signs mark the area north of the Egin-Hamer road in fluorescent orange, while the signs for the earlier opening in the southern portion are lime green.

The closure does not apply access to private lands by individual landowners. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, are also exempt from the closure.

Occasionally powered parachutes, helicopters and small planes have been sighted flying low over the closure area. While the air space is not restricted, all pilots are cautioned to not harass the wintering, deer, elk, and moose. If the machines are flying low enough to cause the wildlife to move away, they are flying too low.

The closure includes all vegetated areas surrounding the designated Red Road "snow play" area north of Sand Hill Resort. The popular Civil Defense Caves also are included within the closure.

Boundaries of the closure are posted, and detailed maps are available from the BLM or Idaho Fish and Game in Idaho Falls. The Fremont and Jefferson county sheriffs' offices also have copies of the map available for the public. This year, maps are also being posted at local motor sports dealers and vehicle sticker outlets to help reach more people.

For information, including free maps of the closure, contact Fish and Game at 208-525-7290 or the BLM at 208-523-1012, in Idaho Falls.

Ask Fish and Game: Fishing Rules

Q. When will the new fish regs be available?

A. Glad you asked. Fish and Game has extended the fishing rules booklet for one more year so don't throw away your 2008 - 2009 Fishing Seasons and Rules brochure. It will be good through 2010. Fish and Game is revising the brochure, and a new edition will be out in 2011.