Press Release

February 2010

Idaho Fish and Game Completes Lolo Zone Elk Survey

Recently completed aerial surveys show a marked decline in elk numbers in game management units 10 and 12, which comprise the Lolo Elk Management Zone.

Survey results indicate the elk population in the Lolo Zone has declined from 5,110 to 2,178, a 57-percent reduction since 2006. The greatest declines were observed in numbers of elk cows, calves and spike bulls. Overall, bull numbers were down zone-wide, with a shift in bulls to older animals.

"This survey, combined with ongoing research showing wolves are the primary cause of elk mortality today, is further scientific evidence of the impact wolves are having," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "The rate of this decline in just four short years should help people understand there is an urgency to manage for a balance in this area."

Appropriate management options in response to this latest survey data are being explored.

Wolf predation is the major source of mortality on this elk herd and is affecting population size because too few calves are surviving to replace the adults that die each year. Predation is preventing recovery from a decline that began in the late 1980s and a steep decline following the severe winter of 1996-97.

This survey information corroborates ongoing research being conducted in the Lolo Zone that shows survival of radio-collared adult elk and six-month-old calves has been poor. Modeling efforts based on research survival data estimate declines of 11 to 15 percent annually.

Idaho Fish and Game's aerial surveys of most elk zones are conducted on a three- to five-year rotation. Surveys provide estimates of the size of the population as well as demographic data, such as numbers of elk cows, calves and bulls.

Big Game Season Proposals Available

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to big game seasons for 2010.

Details of proposed changes are available on the Fish and Game Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/10bgProp/.

A series of public meetings also have been set around the state. Anyone interested in Fish and Game's proposals is encouraged to attend a public meeting or to submit comments online. Public comments are an important part of improving hunting opportunities.

For a list of meetings, contact local Fish and Game offices or visit the Fish and Game Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.

The deadline for comments is March 5. Written comments may also be mailed to regional Fish and Game offices or sent to: Big Game Comments, Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Comments will be compiled and submitted to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, which will set 2010 big game seasons on March 18.

Ask Fish and Game: Moose Controlled Hunts

Q. When can I apply for this year's moose hunts, and when will the new rule books be available?

A. The application period for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts begins April 1 and runs through April 30. The rule book is 1 every two years, so this year's book will be the same as last year's. The fees have changed since the book was printed. The new fees are $166.75 for resident moose, sheep or goat tags, plus a $6.25 controlled hunt application fee. The cost for nonresidents is $2101.75, plus a $14.75 application fee. The rule books are available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices and on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/rules/mgs/.

Bighorn Poaching Suspect Arrested

A Nampa man has been arrested on changes of killing a bighorn sheep during a closed season.

Jake B. Fouts, 20, of Nampa, has been charged with shooting and killing a bighorn sheep ewe about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, February 21, just off the upper Reynolds Creek Road above Hemmingway Butte in Owyhee County.

A witness to the incident was watching the same band of sheep when the ewe pitched over dead. The witness secured vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers from the suspect vehicles, then called the Owyhee County Sheriff's office. The sheriff's office quickly passed the word to Idaho Fish and Game.

From opposite sides of the Reynolds Creek area, Fish and Game Officers Kurt Stieglitz and Craig Mickelson converged. Stieglitz stopped Fouts on Highway 45 just north of Walter's Ferry. After seizing several firearms, Stieglitz arrested Fouts, who was then booked into the Owyhee County jail. Mickelson and Owyhee County Sheriff Daryl Crandall recovered the dead bighorn ewe at the location described by the witness.

The felony charge against Fouts carries a maximum fine of $50,000, a prison sentence of up to five years and a civil penalty of $1,500. A judge could also revoke Fouts' hunting privileges for one year to life.

2010 Turkey Rules Now Available

A 2010 turkey rules flier on spring hunts is now available at Idaho Fish and Game offices and license vendors.

The 2010-2011 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure will not be printed until this summer. Meanwhile to provide information on spring turkey hunts, a flier has been printed with spring general and controlled hunt seasons.

The brochure also is available on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/rules/ug/.

For maps of turkey hunts and for controlled hunt application forms, see the turkey section of the 2009 upland game brochure, or the turkey page on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/rules/ug/turkey.pdf, or ask at a Fish and Game office or license vendor.

Turkey hunters must have a valid 2010 Idaho hunting license and tags, and a permit to participate in a controlled hunt.

Spring Goose Season Provides New Opportunity

By Jennifer Jackson - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Goose hunting in February? It's true.

Idaho hunters have a new opportunity to hunt snow geese this spring in the Southwest and Magic Valley Regions, and a portion of the Southeast Region during Idaho's first-ever spring snow goose hunt.

The spring goose season began Saturday, February 20, and runs through March 10. In includes snow geese and Ross's geese, both sometimes referred to as "light geese," because of their white coloring. The season does not include Canada geese or greater white-fronted geese.

Though uncommon in Idaho during the fall and winter, tens of thousands of snow geese stop over in Idaho in the spring to feed and rest during their migration northward.

In addition to providing hunters with a unique opportunity, a spring snow goose hunt will reduce the agricultural damage the geese cause when they eat grain and alfalfa crops just starting to grow. And, as strange as it sounds, this hunt will help the geese, too.

In the central part of North America, snow goose populations have increased to the point that they are damaging the areas in Canada where they nest and rear their young. As habitat in western North America has increased, populations of snow geese have also steadily increased in the Pacific Flyway to roughly one million birds. The spring snow goose hunt will help stabilize the population before it gets too large.

In eastern Idaho, the snow goose hunting area includes those portions of Power and Bingham Counties within Big Game Unit 68, north and west of Highway 39.

Last year, thousands of white geese could be found in this area feeding in fields. The daily bag limit on snow geese is 10, with a possession limit of 20.

Most hunting opportunity in southeastern Idaho will be on private property, so plan ahead. Be sure to contact landowners for permission to hunt on their land, and always be respectful of private property.

Fish and Game Commission to Set Big Game Seasons

Big game hunters might want to set aside some time next month when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set seasons for this fall's deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear and mountain lion hunts.

The commission will meet March 17 and 18 at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise. A public comment session will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

In the morning of March 18, in addition to setting big game seasons, the commission agenda includes presentations on guidelines for awarding auction tags and a preliminary report on the wolf hunting season. After lunch, commissioners will consider a land acquisition and donation and an update on pending legislation.

Commissioners also will consider a spring Chinook salmon harvest season proposal. And hunter education instructor awards will be presented.

Times on the agenda are approximate and subject to change.

Now's the Time for a Hunter Education Course

By Evin Oneale, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

With online registration, signing up for a hunter education or bowhunter education course has never been easier.

And this time of year, there are a number of courses to choose from.

Idaho Fish and Game offers three course options for hunter education students and two options for bowhunter education students. Traditional classroom courses and internet courses are available for both, while the hunter education program also offers a home study workbook option.

Regardless of which option, the first stop should be the hunter education webpage on the Fish and Game Web site http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Click on the "Hunter and Bowhunter Education Registration" box in the bottom middle of the page to reach the site and learn more about course options, review course availability and even register for a course using a credit card.

"We've made it easy to find the course that fits your schedule and then register for that course via the Internet," Fish and Game wildlife educator Dan Papp said.

Traditional Courses

Traditional hunter education classroom courses remain the most popular course type and are the best choice for budding young hunters.

Taught by a cadre of volunteer instructors, these classes might meet six evenings in a two-week period and are capped off by a field exercise during which students put some of their new-found skills to the test. Enrollees must be at least nine years old to participate in a traditional hunter or bowhunter education course.

Though not required, parents or guardians are encouraged to attend courses with their children and to participate in the entire program. Traditional hunter education courses are being offered in Boise, Caldwell, Nampa, Parma and Payette, and folks are advised not to procrastinate.

Fish and Game Names Hunter Ed Instructor of the Year

Dell Wuebbenhorst of the Magic Valley Region was selected as the "2009 State Instructor of the Year" by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game selection committee.

Committee members said the final decision was difficult because all nominees were well qualified.

The names of the other six nominees were placed into a drawing for a Henry ACU-Bolt, .22-caliber rifle with scope, donated by Henry Repeating Arms Company.

The rifle was won by Todd Clary of the Panhandle Region. The other nominees were Gary Phillips of the Clearwater Region, Mark Pinney of the Southwest Region, Earl Baird of the Southeast Region, Roger Atwood of the Upper Snake Region and Ryan Hilton of the Salmon Region. All were regional instructors of the year for their respective regions.

The selection committee was made up of five Fish and Game employee volunteers.

Fish and Game Responds to Wolf Depredation on Livestock

In January, wolves killed four calves and a cattle dog at a Sweet-Ola area feed lot.

Idaho Fish and Game worked with the producer and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to stop depredations, but the wolves kept coming back.

After the first two calves were killed, Wildlife Services removed two wolves. The rest of the pack came back a few days later. After wolves killed two more calves and a cattle dog, Wildlife Services killed the remainder of the pack in early February.

Lethal control of wolves in response to livestock depredation is nothing new.

When wolves were still on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed wolves to be killed when they repeatedly preyed on livestock. Now that Idaho manages wolves, the same measures will continue.

Since September 2009, Idaho Fish and Game has authorized the removal of three wolf packs in response to chronic depredation similar the Sweet-Ola pack. The response to chronic depredation by wolves is set out in the Idaho Wolf Population Management Plan 2008-2012, adopted by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March 2008, and approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the process of removing wolves from the endangered species list.

The response is consistent with Fish and Game's long-standing practice for dealing with big game conflicts with human activities, such as when deer and elk eat farm crops, or when black bears or mountain lions kill livestock.

Depredation hunts are commonly used to respond to crop damage by deer and elk.

Since 2003, confirmed wolf depredations on livestock have increased nearly threefold from 140 to 385 in 2009. In that time, the wolf population has gone from a minimum of just under 400 to a minimum of 850 wolves.

Online Trip Auction Ends Sunday

Searching for breathtaking nature experiences? Heart pounding excitement? An opportunity to assist an Idaho Fish and Game biologist in managing Idaho's fish, wildlife and habitat?

This auction is for you.

Bidders are invited to join the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation's 20th annual trip auction, regardless of where they live. The auction ends at 9 p.m. Mountain Time, Sunday, February 28.

The auction, co-sponsored by Idaho Fish and Game, is the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation's largest fundraiser, attracting hunters and anglers as well as hikers and wildlife watchers. The auction's major sponsor is Active Outdoors, offering integrated technology and marketing solutions for conservation and park agencies.

Full trip descriptions and step-by-step instructions are available by visiting www.ifwfauction.cmarket.com. Bid now on more than forty Idaho outdoor experiences.

The 2010 trip auction benefits Idaho's "Watchable Wildlife" programs, designed to promote wildlife viewing, photography, education and to instill a greater appreciation for all wildlife.

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization celebrating twenty years of helping to protect and sustain Idaho's fishing, hunting and wildlife heritage. Board members represent each region of the state.

For information contact Gayle Valentine, executive director Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation at 208-287-2805.

Click on this link to view a video about the auction on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZZAOb3oFqs.

Become an Idaho Master Naturalist

Exploring the natural mysteries of our surroundings is something many of wish we had more time to do.

Increase your awareness and share your knowledge of local flora, ecology and the interrelationship of life along the Portneuf River. The Portneuf Naturalists chapter will be offering their 2010 Master Naturalist Training beginning in March. To register for the Portneuf Naturalists spring training, contact Fish and Game at 232-4703 or Terri Bergmeier at 251-6510. The 40 hour training program costs $65 and is limited to 20 participants.

Anyone who enjoys and appreciates Idaho's outdoors can be an Idaho Master Naturalist; teachers, hunters, nature guides, farmers, retired professionals, and you! An Idaho Master Naturalist completes 40 hours of hands-on, experiential training about Idaho ecology, plants, animals and natural systems and 40 hours of service commitment for certification.

As a trained Master Naturalist, you can help nature area staff and assist public and non-profit organizations teach children and adults about nature and why conservation is important. Help with water quality studies, plant surveys, outreach in classrooms, wildlife projects, and other citizen science activities.

Join the Portneuf Naturalists and a statewide network of dedicated, trained volunteers who work toward conservation, further your education and interest in nature, and have an opportunity to give back to your community.