Press Release

August 2010

Helicopter Crash Kills Pilot, Two Fish and Game Biologists

A helicopter carrying two Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists and a pilot crashed in Kamiah between 9:30 and 9:45 Tuesday morning, leaving three dead.

"I am heart broken to report that this morning we had a helicopter accident near Kamiah," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "Two employees and the pilot were on board. All three were killed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and to all employees as we go through this difficult time."

Two were pronounced dead at the scene, the third was taken to a hospital but was later pronounced dead. Dead are Larry Barrett, 47 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1985, and Dani Schiff, 34 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1997.

"This is a sad day for Fish and Game and our families," Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said.

"Larry and Dani, our hearts go out to their families and the family of the pilot," Deputy Director Virgil Moore said.

The crash occurred behind the U.S. Forest Service building in Kamiah. The biologists were counting salmon redds - spawning nests - on the nearby Selway River. Fish and Game biologists have counted redds annually since the 1950s using fixed wing and helicopters.

The counts are the primary index of the status of naturally spawning salmon. Aerial counts are the only to way to count many of Idaho's remote and wilderness streams.

The helicopter belongs to Leading Edge Aviation of Clarkston, Wash., a company that contracts services to Idaho Fish and Game.

The last previous fatal Fish and Game aircraft accident was in December 2000 when a wildlife biologist was killed when the helicopter he was in went down while on a wildlife count in northern Idaho.

Earlier this year, on January 8, a helicopter carrying a pilot and two Idaho Fish and Game biologists crashed in the Kelly Creek area on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. None of the three people on board suffered life-threatening injuries.

Meetings Set in Pocatello on Fishing Rule Changes

In preparation for setting the 2011-2012 fishing seasons and rules, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled two public meeting opportunities in southeast Idaho for the purpose of gathering public input.

The public is invited to attend an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. September 6 at the Fish and Game regional office, 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello. A public meeting will start at 7 p.m. September 7 at the American Falls High School Auditorium in American Falls.

In addition, anglers may complete an online questionaire regarding the proposed changes by visiting Fish and Game's Web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/fishSurvey/public/. Or, they may pick up copies of the questionaire at Fish and Game's southeast regional office in Pocatello.

A sample of rules changes that affect southeast region include:

Meeting set in Magic Valley on Fishing Rules Changes

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game plans public meetings across the Magic Valley Region over the next few weeks to discuss potential fishing rule changes.

It's all part of the process for setting the 2011-2012 fishing seasons and rules.

Idaho Fish and Game will host three meetings from 6 to 8 p.m.:

  • September 9, Magic Valley Regional Office, 319 South 417 East, Highway Business Park, 2.5 miles north of the Flying J, Jerome.
  • September 14, Old Court House - 3rd floor, 206 1st Ave. South, Hailey.
  • September 16, Burley City Hall, 1401 Overland Avenue, Burley.

"The public comment portion of the rules cycle is when we ask the public if they're on board with the proposed regulation changes," said Doug Megargle, regional fisheries manager. "We've scheduled meetings at various locations around the region to make it easy for folks to come give us their feedback and ask questions. If anglers can't make a meeting they can call, e-mail, stop by the regional office, or complete the online survey (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/). Bottom line, we want to hear from anglers"

Among some of the ideas that will be presented to the public is a draft version of a new, easier to use regulations format.

"The biggest change, aside from the format itself, will be moving from the traditional rivers and streams general season of May to November to a new season of open all year using exceptions to protect sensitive fisheries," Megargle said. "Other changes being considered include the Malad River and Vinyard Creek (near Twin Falls Reservoir)."

Fish and Game gathered information from the public this spring, submitted proposals to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, and is now asking the public to provide comment on those proposed rules reviewed by the commission.

Fish and Game Thanks Volunteers for their Work

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game would like to thank Crop Production Services for volunteering their time on an important wildlife project.

Employees of the Wendell branch applied a much needed coat of paint to a Department elk feed shed near Featherville. The shed stores feed pellets which are used to supplement elk diets in difficult winters.

This marks the fourth year that Crop Production Services employees have helped keep Fish and Game feeding facilities in good condition. Staff members of the Idaho Fish and Game, Magic Valley Region, greatly appreciate their assistance.

Upland Game Seasons Open

Fall upland hunting starts this week, with seasons for mourning doves, forest grouse and sandhill cranes as well as cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.

Hunters will find upland hunting rules and shooting times in the rules brochure at license vendors and Fish and Game offices as well as on the department Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

The season for doves and sandhill cranes starts September 1. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset - check the brochure for exact times.

Dove limits are 10 daily with 20 in possession after the first day. Fish and Game has eliminated controlled hunts for sandhill cranes, selling over-the-counter tags. The limit is two birds per day and nine per season. Tags cost $15 for residents and nonresidents alike.

A federal migratory bird harvest information program validation is required for dove and crane hunting - $1.75 for residents and $4.75 for nonresidents.

The season for forest grouse, which includes ruffed, spruce and dusky (blue) grouse, opens Monday, August 30, and runs through December 31 in most of Idaho. In the Panhandle Region it runs through January 31. The daily limit is four, whether all of one or mixed species, and eight in possession after the first day. Only a valid hunting license is required for hunting forest grouse.

Seasons for cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hares open September 1 and runs through February 28, 2011, for cottontails and through March 31, 2011, for hares. The daily bag limit for both is eight, with 16 in possession after the first day.

There is no season on pygmy rabbits. To distinguish, note that cottontail tails are dark above and white underneath and the pygmy's tail is buffy gray with no white. The cottontail is more than a foot long while the pygmy is less than one foot.

Steelhead Season Opens on the Salmon, Snake Rivers

Steelhead harvest fishing season opens Wednesday, September 1, on the Salmon, the Little Salmon and the lower Snake rivers.

The steelhead harvest season already is open on the Clearwater River from its mouth to the Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 12 near Lewiston. The rest of the Clearwater drainage upstream of Memorial Bridge is open to catch-and-release only for steelhead.

The harvest season opens October 15 on the Clearwater upstream of the Memorial Bridge.

The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three per day and nine in possession. The limit on the Clearwater is two fish per day and six in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release.

Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit. They must stop fishing when the possession limit is reached - even catch-and-release. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

In the boundary waters on the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, an angler with a valid 2010 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit may fish where the river forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon or Washington, but may not fish from the shoreline, including wading, and may not fish in sloughs or tributaries on the Oregon or Washington side. An angler may have only the limit allowed by one license regardless of the number of licenses the angler holds.

For more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho, check the Fish and Game Website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Fall Chinook Harvest Season Opens Soon

The fall harvest season for Chinook salmon opens Wednesday, September 1, in the Snake River between Lewiston and Hells Canyon Dam and, this year, in the lower Clearwater River downstream of the Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.

The fall Chinook season will run 24-hours a day, seven days a week until further notice or until October 31, whichever occurs first.

The daily limit would be two fall Chinook, only one of which may be an adult; the possession limit is six, of which three may be adults. Jacks, fish less than 24 inches in total length, are part of the daily and possession limits but anglers are not required to record them on their permits.

Anglers may keep 40 adult Chinook salmon for the calendar year, including spring, summer and fall seasons. They may keep only fish with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar. All salmon with an intact adipose fin must be released.

Salmon anglers may use only barbless hooks no larger than five-eighths inch from the point to the shank. When the daily, possession or season limit is reached, the angler must stop fishing for salmon, including catch-and-release.

It is unlawful to take or fish for salmon by snagging. Salmon caught in a legal manner must be either released or killed immediately after landing.

Anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit in possession to fish for salmon. A 2010 salmon permit from the spring or summer season is still valid.

To increase flexibility, the fall Chinook fishery has been divided into several management areas.

Clearwater River: The Clearwater is open from its mouth, a line from a posted sign on the north bank, south to the western-most point on the south bank, upstream about 1.7 miles to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge.

Snake River: The Snake is open in four sections:

Brownlee Chukar Survey Shows Little Change from 2009

Chukar hunters can expect to find bird numbers about the same as last year in southwest Idaho.

The annual aerial chukar flight took in a slightly smaller area this year because of helicopter scheduling and logistics. Biologist Jake Powell said chukar densities appear to be similar to last fall's, though the total numbers counted were fewer. Numbers appear to be somewhat below the 10-year average but considerably better than in 2007-2008.

Chukar hunting begins, along with seasons for gray partridge and quail, on September 18. The chukar and gray partridge limits are eight birds of each species and 16 of each species in possession. Quail limits remain the same at 10 and 20.

Upland hunting rules brochures are available at license vendors and at Fish and Game offices as well as online at fishandgame.idaho.gov.

F&G Seeks Comments on Draft Bighorn Plan

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on its proposed revised bighorn sheep management plan.

Revision of the Idaho Bighorn Sheep Management Plan 1990-1995 began in 2008 with 750 responses to a mailed survey and 593 responses on the Fish and Game Website. In June 2010, the Governor's Idaho Bighorn Sheep-Domestic Sheep Advisory Group provided comments to an early draft of this plan.

The new plan will provide an overview of current status and management direction for the species.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission asked Fish and Game to solicit public comments on the proposed plan during September.

Fish and Game will evaluate all comments and revise the draft plan. A final plan will be submitted for commission review in November.

The draft plan is available only electronically on the Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.

Comments may be submitted online at the address above, via e-mail or by mail to Bighorn Sheep Plan Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Ask Fish and Game: Grouse Permits

Q. Do I need a permit to hunt grouse?

A. It depends. In addition to a valid 2010 Idaho hunting license, hunters need a permit to hunt sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in possession their license with a sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit validation, available from license vendors at $4.75. No permit other than a hunting license is required to hunt forest grouse, including blue, ruffed and spruce grouse. Check 2010 upland game rule book for seasons and bag limits.

F&G Plans Treatment for Golden Shiners in Deer Creek Reservoir,

Golden shiners were recently discovered for a second time in Deer Creek Reservoir near Pierce.

Because of the potential negative effect golden shiners can have on the fishery resources of Idaho, Fish and Game officials will treat the reservoir next month using the chemical rotenone, which selectively kills fish.

Golden shiners pose a serious risk to our fishery resources because they eat the same small food items that trout and kokanee eat. If they escape downstream, they have the potential to compete with kokanee in Dworshak Reservoir. Any potential benefits they may provide as forage for predatory fish are far outweighed by fishery losses from competition with other fish that eat zooplankton.

Deer Creek Reservoir was opened in 2004 and is managed as a trout fishery. It quickly gained a great reputation, with numerous trout caught between 14 to 18 inches and reports of fish up to 26 inches.

Idaho Fish and Game originally documented the first illegal introduction of these baitfish into the reservoir in August 2006. It was speculated that they were either introduced by an angler illegally using live bait or intentionally by an individual attempting to provide forage for other fish. To prevent the spread of this unwanted invasive species, the reservoir was chemically treated that fall to remove the fish and prevent their spread into other waters.

"The establishment of golden shiners in Deer Creek Reservoir will severely reduce the amount of trout the reservoir will produce, as well as the growth rate and size of those fish," regional fisheries biologist Robert Hand said. "More importantly, the persistence of golden shiners will provide a continual source for natural migration downstream to Dworshak Reservoir, and serve as a source for additional illegal introduction into other state waters."

Public Meetings Planned on Fishing Rule Changes

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is gathering public comments over the next few weeks on proposed fishing rule changes as part of the process of setting 2011-2012 fishing seasons and rules.

Many of the rule changes being proposed would simplify and clarify the current fishing rules and increase fishing opportunity for Idaho's anglers. Proposed changes are available by region on the Idaho Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/, or by contacting regional fishery biologists.

Regional meetings are planned around the state. Meetings are set in:

The Clearwater Region, meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

  • Monday, September 13 - Fish and Game Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Drive, northwest of Ahsahka Bridge, Orofino.
  • Monday, September 20 - Super 8 Motel, 801 W South 1st St., Grangeville.
  • Wednesday, September 22 - Kooskia Community Center, 26 Main St., Kooskia.
  • Thursday, September 23 - Idaho Fish and Game office, 3316 16th St. Lewiston.

The Upper Snake Region meetings begin at 7 p.m.

  • Wednesday, August 25 - Fish and Game office in Idaho Falls.
  • Thursday, August 26 - Mackay High School Auditorium.
  • Wednesday, September 1 - County Commission Room in the Teton County Courthouse in Driggs.
  • Thursday, September 2 - Ponds Lodge in Island Park.

The Panhandle Region, a meeting is set for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Wednesday, September 8 - Fish and Game office in Coeur d'Alene.

Meetings in other regions will be announced as they are set.

Comments may be entered on the Fish and Game site: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/.