Press Release

March 2010

Youth Turkey Season Opens April 8

Youth turkey season opens Thursday, April 8, a week before the regular season.

The youth turkey season runs from Thursday, April 8, through Wednesday, April 14, in game management units open to general season turkey hunting and open in controlled hunt areas to holders of a youth-only controlled hunt permit.

The general season opens Thursday, April 15.

A hunter must be 15 or younger on April 8 to participate in the youth hunt.

Youths aged 10 and 11 can buy a youth small game license and a turkey tag.

Please see the 2010 Spring Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure, available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors. Hunters must have a valid 2010 hunting license and a turkey tag.

F&G Commission Adopts Big Game Seasons

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has adopted big game seasons for 2010 with few changes.

New this year were caps on some elk tags, allowing youth hunters to hunt in both A and B tag elk hunts and easing black bear and mountain lion hunts in some units to include electronic calls and increased bag limits.

Commissioners adopted the new seasons as proposed, except they opted to drop senior hunts in units 31, 40 and 41. They agreed to review senior hunts.

A new Lolo zone A tag cap at 404 will result in a 6.5 percent reduction, and a B tag cap at 1,088 will result in a 14 percent reduction from the average annual sales.

In the second year of the phased-in Sawtooth zone caps, A tags went from 1342 in 2009 to 953 for 2010 and B tags were reduced from 2382 in 2009 to 1954 for 2010.

The Smoky Mountain zone A tag cap of 726 will result in a 10 percent reduction.

The Salmon zone B tag cap at 2,507 will mean a 19.8 percent reduction.

Elk population surveys show nine elk zones are above management objectives, 13 are meeting objectives and seven are below objectives.

Good mule deer survival this year will translate into more permits in some hunts. Nearly all adult females survived, and biologists expect fawn survival to be at least 70 percent. These are the best survival rates since close monitoring of survival began in 1998.

Commissioners approved a proposal to allow electronic calls to hunt black bears and mountain lions in the Lolo and Selway elk management zones. They also extended the mountain lion season to June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and increased the bag limit to two lions in the Lolo zone.

Commissioners also approved changes to three pronghorn controlled hunts in the Magic Valley. Hunts in units 40, 41 and 42, in 45 and 52, and in 46 and 47 will be split into controlled hunts from August 15 through 30 and new unlimited controlled hunts added from September 10 through 24.

Ask Fish and Game: Big Game Application Period

Q. When can I apply for a controlled big game hunt?

A. Fish and Game will take applications for moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep controlled hunts from April 1 through April 30. Applications for elk, deer, pronghorn and fall black bear controlled hunts are accepted from May 1 through June 5. But if you apply for trophy species you are not eligible to apply for big game controlled hunt. It's too late for spring bear and turkey controlled hunts - the drawings for those already are over.

Fish and Game Seeks Comments On Fishing Rules

Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public input on potential fishing season and rule changes for 2011-2012.

"We're in the scoping phase of the rule change process, which is when we want to hear ideas on potential changes to fishing seasons and rules, as well as share our ideas about what changes we think may be appropriate," Regional Fisheries Manager Jim Fredericks said.

The rule change process this year is being accompanied by a statewide effort to simplify fishing rules and make the brochure easier to understand, Fredericks said. Fish and Game hopes to achieve some of this by eliminating antiquated and unnecessary rules. Based on public comments collected during the scoping period, Fish and Game will develop rule change proposals that will be presented for public comment later this summer.

To gather public comments Fish and Game will host four public scoping meetings around the region. Anyone with ideas on how Fish and Game can improve fishing opportunities or interested in the rule change process is encouraged to attend. Biologists will present information on the efforts to simplify the seasons and rules, discuss potential changes, and be available to provide information on local fisheries.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.:

  • April 7 - Elks Lodge in the Fireside Room, 628 Main St., St. Maries.
  • April 8 - Panhandle Health District office, 1020 Michigan St., Sandpoint.
  • April 14 - Fish and Game regional office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d'Alene.

In addition to the evening meetings, Idaho Fish and Game will be holding a Sportsman's Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. March 27 at the Silver Valley Memorial Hall, 110 Hill St., Kellogg.

F&G Commission Adopts Big Game Seasons

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday morning adopted big game seasons for 2010 with few changes.

New this year were caps on some elk tags, allowing youth hunters to hunt in both A and B tag elk hunts and easing black bear and mountain lion hunts in some units to include electronic calls and increased bag limits.

Commissioners adopted the new seasons as proposed, except they opted to drop senior hunts in units 31, 40 and 41. They agreed to review senior hunts.

A new Lolo zone A tag cap will result in a 6.5 percent reduction, and a B tag cap will result in a 14 percent reduction from the average annual sales.

The second year of the phased-in Sawtooth zone A and B tag caps will increase the cap there to 75 percent of the proposed reduction for both.

Smoky Mountain A tag cap will result in a 10 percent reduction. The Salmon zone B tag cap will mean a 19.8 percent reduction.

Elk population surveys show nine elk zone are above management objectives, 13 are meeting objectives and seven are below objectives.

Good mule deer survival this year will translate into more permits in some hunts. Nearly all adult females survived, and biologists expect fawn survival to be at least 70 percent. These are the best survival rates since close monitoring of survival began in 1998.

Commissioners approved a proposal to allow electronic calls to hunt black bears and mountain lions in the Lolo and Selway elk management zones. They also extended the mountain lion season to June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and increased the bag limit to two lions in the Lolo zone.

Commissioners also approved changes to three pronghorn controlled hunts in the Magic Valley. Hunts in units 40, 41 and 42, in 45 and 52, and in 46 and 47 will be split into controlled hunts from August 15 through 30 and adding new unlimited controlled hunts from September 10 through 24.

F&G Commission Ups Steelhead Limit on Salmon River

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, March 18, approved a proposal to increase the limit on steelhead in the Salmon River drainage.

Anglers may now buy a second steelhead card that allows them to catch and keep 40 steelhead, in addition to the 40 fish on the first card, allowing a total of 80 steelhead for the spring season.

The increased limit applies only to waters within the Salmon River drainage now open to steelhead fishing.

Those waters include the Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream from the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley, and the Little Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

All anglers fishing for steelhead, even catch-and-release, must have a valid 2010 fishing license and steelhead permit. The daily limits for steelhead trout is five, no more than three may be 32 or more inches in total length. The possession limit is 15, no more than nine may be 32 or more inches long.

Steelhead anglers must stop fishing - even catch-and-release - when the bag limit is reached. Anglers must use barbless hooks, and can keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Steelhead limits in other waters have not changed. For complete rules, see the steelhead section in the 2008-2010 Fishing Seasons and Rules, or go online to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/rules/steel.pdf.

Another Wolf Hunt has Closed in central Idaho

The wolf season has closed as of Monday, March 15, in the Salmon wolf management zone, where the harvest limit of 16 wolves has been reached.

The closure affects big game management units 21, 21A, 28 and 36B.

Six other zones already have closed. The wolf season closed February 1 in the Middle Fork zone, January 2 in the Southern Mountains zone, December 18 in the Palouse-Hells Canyon zone, on November 17 in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, on November 9 in the McCall-Weiser zone, and on November 2 in the Upper Snake zone.

Elsewhere in the state wolf seasons remain open.

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, when the statewide limit of 220 wolves is reached, or on March 31, whichever comes first.

As of Monday, March 15, the statewide hunter harvest was at 176 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.

To report a wolf kill, call 877-872-3190 toll free.

Volunteers Needed to Plant Seedling for Wildlife on Craig Mountain

Idaho Fish and Game is asking for volunteers to help plant sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings March 25-27 on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

Volunteers may call the Fish and Game office 208-799-5010 or e-mail jennifer.bruns@idfg.idaho.gov for more information or to sign-up for this project.

Transportation can be arranged from IDFG's regional office to the planting site near Wapshilla Ranch. Volunteers should be physically able to hike on rocky, steep ground.

Lunch and dinner will be provided to all working volunteers. Volunteers should bring a water bottle, gloves, work boots, and appropriate work clothing, including rain gear.

There will be the option to spend the night, so volunteers should plan on staying at the ranch house or should consider bringing a tent, sleeping bag, and other personal items.

Bitterbrush and sagebrush - both native shrubs - comprise an important component of big game winter ranges in Idaho and throughout the west. Besides providing essential food sources for deer, elk and other wildlife, bitterbrush and sagebrush provide cover from the elements and predators and nesting habitat.

Turkey, Black Bear Drawing Results Online

Hunters who applied for spring turkey and black bear controlled hunts can find results on the Idaho Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/turkbear.cfm.

Successful applicants also have been notified by mail. It is the responsibility of hunters to find out whether their names were drawn in these hunts.

Details for obtaining or exchanging tags are explained on the site. Hunters who need to exchange a general season tag for a controlled hunt tag can do that at any Fish and Game Office.

Hunters who have a general turkey tag will need to buy the controlled hunt permit that costs $7.75. Hunters who don't have a general turkey tag must buy one as well as the controlled hunt permit.

Those drawing a spring bear controlled hunt and who have a general season tag may exchange the general season tag for the controlled hunt tag or may keep the general season tag and buy the controlled hunt bear tag. Any exchanges of tags must be completed at a Fish and Game office.

For drawing results go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/turkbear.cfm; for drawing odds to go: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/odds.cfm.

Twentieth Online Auction Deemed a Success

With more than 100 bidders from Tennessee to Oregon, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Inc. reports the 20th Online Trip Auction was the most successful since it moved online from radio five years ago.

The 2010 auction offered more than 40 outdoor trips and raised close to $17,000.

The foundation's board of directors appreciates the partnership with and help of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, underwriting support of ActiveOutdoors, donations from businesses throughout Idaho and the winning bidders.

This year's auction benefited Idaho's Watchable Wildlife program, which promotes an appreciation for wildlife and habitat, wildlife-based tourism, and responsible wildlife observation for the residents in Idaho. Efforts encourage wildlife viewing, photography, education and other non-consumptive wildlife recreation to build community awareness, understanding, and support for the conservation of the wildlife and habitats upon which these activities depend.

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to protecting and sustaining Idaho's fishing, hunting and wildlife heritage for present and future generations. The foundation is committed to bringing together and providing resources to promote conservation education, supporting projects dedicated to preserving fish and wildlife habitat and creating unique opportunities to experience Idaho's great outdoors.

Please visit www.ifwf.org.

The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, celebrating 20 years in Idaho. The volunteer board of directors works in all regions of Idaho, funding habitat projects and wildlife conservation education projects. To learn more, please call 208-334-2648.

Ask Fish and Game: Winter Stream Season

Q. When does the winter stream season end?

A. The winter stream season ends March 31 - except in the Panhandle Region, where it runs through May 22. Until then trout fishing is catch-and-release only, but whitefish and brook trout may be harvested in streams open during the winter stream season. Except that whitefish in the Big Lost River are protected and may not be harvested at any time. Fishing gear or bait restrictions that apply to a river or stream section during the general season also apply during the winter stream season. See regional exceptions in the Idaho 2008-2010 Fishing Seasons and Rules for waters open to winter stream fishing. Fish may be taken in the many rivers and streams open to fishing all year; other streams closed for the winter open to fishing May 23 for the Memorial Day weekend.

Annual Wolf Report Available

The 2009 annual summary of wolf recovery in Idaho is now available, and it shows wolf numbers are nearly the same as 2008.

The Idaho 2009 Wolf Conservation and Management Progress Report includes the current status of the wolf population in Idaho. Biologists documented 94 Idaho resident and border wolf packs at the end of 2009. The minimum population was estimated at 843 wolves. In 2008, the minimum population estimate was 856 wolves.

In addition, 20 documented border packs were counted for Montana, Wyoming and Washington that established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary and likely spent some time in Idaho.

Of the 65 packs known to have reproduced, 49 packs qualified as breeding pairs by the end of the year. These 65 reproductive packs produced a minimum of 204 pups.

In Idaho, wolf packs ranged from the Canadian border south to Interstate 84, and from the Washington and Oregon borders east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Dispersing wolves were occasionally reported in previously unoccupied areas.

Sixteen previously unknown packs were documented during 2009, but the overall net increase was only six documented packs in the state. During 2009, 343 wolf observations were reported on Fish and Game's Web site report form.

Biologists confirmed the deaths of 275 wolves in Idaho during 2009; three of those belonged to Montana packs and were addressed in that state's report. Of known wolf mortalities, hunter harvest accounted for 135 deaths and agency control and legal landowner take in response to wolf-livestock depredation accounted for 94 deaths.

Twenty wolf mortalities were attributed to other human causes, including illegal take. The cause of 24 wolf mortalities could not be determined and were listed as unknown, and two wolves died of natural causes.