Press Release

November 2010

Rex Rammell to be Charged with Illegal Elk Killing

Rex Rammell, Idaho Falls, is under investigation in the illegal killing of an elk following a confrontation with an Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer.

The officer was patrolling the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area east of Idaho Falls late this morning where a late season cow elk hunt is being held. The officer checked Rammell's elk tag after he saw that Rammell was dragging a dead elk with his snowmobile. The tag was invalid because it was issued for a hunt that closed in October in the Middle Fork elk hunting zone. Elk tags in Idaho are issued for one of 29 elk hunting zones and are not valid elsewhere.

Rammell is alleged to have interfered with the officer's attempt to seize the elk, made a threatening statement, dragged it back to his vehicle and refused to stop until he reached his residence where he refused to accept a citation. Fish and Game confiscated the elk and will seek formal charges.

What Are the Natives Doing?

Salmon and steelhead receive a lot of attention but what is Idaho Fish and Game doing for native fish that do not travel to the Pacific Ocean?

Fisheries managers from each of Idaho's seven administrative regions reported examples of efforts to conserve and manage native fisheries to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at its recent meeting in Jerome. Efforts to help resident native fish are coordinated under a Commission-approved statewide management plan and other species management plans.

Fisheries managers want to protect self-sustaining, genetically pure populations of sturgeon in a Snake River system that is broken by dams into nine distinct reaches. Most of those reaches do not support reproduction but the river in the Hells Canyon reach and from Bliss Dam to C.J. Strike Dam does, Southwest Region fisheries manager Jeff Dillon explained.

Dillon said maintaining sturgeon in the other seven reaches of the Snake River depends on stocking of hatchery produced fish and translocation of wild fish.

Moving wild fish includes placing adults captured from below C.J. Strike into the Bliss reach of river and juveniles from the Bliss reach to the river below C.J. Strike Dam.

Fish and Game studies show that each adult sturgeon caught by anglers below C.J. Strike may be hooked or hooked and landed several times annually. Sturgeon mortality caused by anglers hooking them is the subject of a continuing Fish and Game study.

Clearwater Region fisheries manager Joe Dupont noted that circle hooks have reduced mortality in other species. Fish and Game is considering making the use of circle hooks mandatory while fishing for sturgeon. Some of the initial research has been promising. A drawback of using circle hooks is that catch rates are lower, making them unpopular with some anglers.

Winter Brings Animals Onto Roadways

An unusually early start to winter all across Idaho has already brought big game animals down to low elevations where they can cause problems for motorists.

Drivers are urged to use caution, slow down in areas where animals might be expected on the roadway and observe signs and lights marking areas of traditional game crossing activity. Collisions with big game animals are expensive for vehicle owners, often cause human injury or deaths and almost always are fatal to the animals.

When snow is deep, as it has been recently even in Idaho's lowest elevations, animals have nowhere else to go as natural forage is covered in the hills. Game animals such as elk and deer are often attracted to salt available to them after it is spread on roads to melt ice.

Last Load of Steelhead on the Way to Boise

The last shipment of steelhead of the year will be placed in the Boise River Thursday.

Idaho Fish and Game crews will release 333 fish at access points from Glenwood Bridge upstream to Barber Park. Fish and Game has already brought about 1,000 steelhead to the Boise this fall from Idaho Power Company's Oxbow hatchery, operated by the department.

Commission Adopts New Fish Seasons and Rules

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, meeting in Jerome November 18, adopted new seasons and rules for 2011-2012.

The rules come with two major changes: a new "newspaper" format for the rule brochure, and year-round seasons will be the rule, rather than the exception.

The open year-round-season rule is a way to limit the number of rule exceptions, fisheries Chief Ed Schriever told commissioners. Many Idaho streams already are open year round, but they are listed as exceptions because statewide the general season for rivers and streams is from Memorial Day through November 30. The new rules make rivers and stream open year-round the rule and those that have special seasons will now be listed as exceptions.

Special seasons and gear restrictions were maintained in rivers and streams where continued protection remains necessary to meet fishery objectives.

The rules and seasons also are presented regionally, which further reduces the number of exceptions. The result is a thinner book, and a format that fisheries managers think will be easier to understand.

Two other changes that have raised some public concern affect the Snake River below the American Falls Dam, and an extended ice-fishing season on Henrys Lake.

In the Snake River from the dam downstream to Eagle Rock the harvest season would end October 15, and a catch-and-release season would run from October 16 through the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.

This is a social issue balanced with biological issues, Southeast Region Commissioner Randy Budge said. In most years water drops about the middle of October and the river is reduced to channels in basalt. Some have raised legitimate concern with ethics.

"There is a perception that people take out big fish during the end of harvest season after water drops," Budge said. He proposed the earlier closure of the harvest season, which was adopted unanimously.

Commission Considers Wildlife Salvage, Grizzly Statement

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission meeting, November 18, directed Fish and Game to develop rules for salvage of accidentally killed wildlife.

Current rules do not allow private citizens to salvage usable parts of accidentally killed wildlife, including road kill. Nor do rules allow commercial sale for salvaged parts.

The commission directed Fish and Game to develop rules that would allow public salvage for personal use and commercial salvage such as the pelts that could be salvaged and sold.

Assistant Director Sharon Kiefer presented an update on proposed legislation that would give the commission authority to create a mentored hunting program.

She also presented two interstate projects involving Idaho, which are part of the Western Governors' Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Wildlife Habitats Initiative.

The projects, one involving Idaho, Oregon and Washington and the other involving Idaho and Montana, would help identify key migration corridors, crucial habitat and recommend tools for landscape conservation as part of a state based integrated decision support system.

The projects would help ensure wildlife information is considered early in planning and decision making processes. And they allow states to develop a transboundary picture of crucial habitat and corridors across jurisdictions. They would look regionwide, rather than just statewide, include climate change adaptation strategies and develop a standard framework for mapping wildlife corridors.

The commission also adopted the state's Bighorn Sheep Management Plan. Fish and Game Director Cal Groen noted that the interest in hunting bighorn sheep in Idaho has been growing. And the biggest ram ever taken in the state was taken this year, he said.

Fish and Game Enforcement is Going to the Dogs

Idaho conservation officers are working on a new way to sniff out wildlife crime.

Jim Stirling, a Fish and Game conservation officer in the Magic Valley Region, is going to Indiana next spring to learn how to work a dog in wildlife crime investigation as part of the Wildlife Scent Detection K9 program.

Stirling will be the handler of a one-year old black lab. Training for the dog and the handler will be provided by Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The dog will be on the ground and working by summer.

The program is designed to assist conservation officers by locating items that normally may go undetected. About 18 other states use dogs, including Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire and Kansas.

Florida was the pioneer, beginning their program in the mid '80s. Several Canadian provinces have been using them longer.

Stirling plans to use the dog's nose to locate hidden wildlife or wildlife parts, locate firearms evidence and to track persons. He expects the dog will help Fish and Game identify more closed season, unlawful possession and over-limit violations.

The dog would allow conservation officers to locate more evidence, more efficiently in the field, reducing the number of unsolved cases. Tracking skills can help locate lost or injured hunters, locate violators and prove some cases, such as trespassing. In addition, the dog will be very visible at public events, school presentations and demonstrations.

Fish and Game's program is designed as a five-year pilot project. After five years the program will be evaluated on its success and more dogs may be added. The only money contributed by Fish and Game is Stirling's salary and the vehicle costs. All equipment, training and expenses are being paid from grant money. Much of the equipment has been donated by businesses in the Magic Valley.

Fish and Game Seeks Help in Solving Several Poachings Near Kamiah

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is investigating an alarming number of big game animals shot and left to waste along the Beaver Slide Road east of Kamiah.

Since late October, seven big game animals have been discovered along a mile and half stretch of the road. All animals were left to waste and likely shot from the road.

In late October, two whitetail does were discovered about a week apart in a field at mile post 6. No meat was taken from either animal. On November 5, officers investigated a cow elk that was shot and left in the same field. On November 6, concerned hunters reported a dead mature mule deer buck on the hill across the canyon from the Beaver Slide Road at mile post 5. The investigation found that the deer was killed from a long-range shot from the road. Mule deer hunting closed on November 3 in the area. On November 12, a small whitetail buck was discovered at mile post 6.5. Finally, two more elk were discovered left to waste in a field at mile post 5.5 on November 20.

"We've investigated poaching activity in this area in the past, but nothing to this extent," said Roger Westfall, Sr. Conservation Officer based in Kamiah. "There is no excuse for these senseless crimes - it's outrageous."

Anyone observing suspicious activity in this area or with information about these crimes is encouraged to contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous and will be eligible for a reward.

Trophy White-tail Buck Shot, Left to Rot near Whitebird

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for help in determining who shot and wasted a trophy-class white-tailed buck discovered recently in the Deer Creek area west of Whitebird.

The entire carcass was left to waste, with only the head taken. The deer was found on private property, likely shot from the Deer Creek Road sometime on or around November 16.

The deer was well known in the neighborhood because of its huge antlers that residents estimate at over 160 Boone and Crockett points. The deer had five points on one side and possibly six on the other with a drop tine.

Anyone observing suspicious activity in this area or with information about this crime is encouraged to contact Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a substantial reward.

Boise Steelhead Release Cancelled

Idaho Fish and Game will not be trucking another load of steelhead for release into the Boise River this week.

Winter road conditions have made the planned release of another 300 or so fish impractical. About 1,000 steelhead have been released into the river so far this fall.

If conditions permit, another release may be made after the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Nonresident Tag Sales Begin December 1

The 2011 licenses, tags and permits go on sale at 12:01 a.m. MST, Wednesday, December 1, except for the nonresident Selway B elk tags which go on sale at 10 a.m. MST.

The sale of these popular tags is being delayed because many license vendors and Idaho Department of Fish and Game offices will not be open at midnight. By delaying the sale timing, hunters will have an equal opportunity to buy the tags.

Nonresident hunters can buy their licenses and tags at Fish and Game offices, any license vendor, or by credit card by calling 1-800-554-8685. They can also buy them online at the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Big game hunters can find more information on the sale and purchase of tags for residents and nonresidents on pages 92-96 of the Idaho 2010 Big Game Seasons rules booklet.

Nonresidents can buy licenses, deer and elk tags beginning Wednesday, December 1. Residents also can buy 2011 hunting licenses starting Wednesday, and they can buy a receipt for deer and elk tags, which don't go on sale until after deer, elk and pronghorn controlled hunt drawings.

Hunters can redeem the receipt for a deer or elk tag after the controlled hunt drawings in July so those whose names were drawn don't have to exchange their general season tags for controlled hunt tags at a Fish and Game office. Instead the controlled winners are simply issued a controlled hunt tag at any license vendor. The rest are issued general season tags.

Ask Fish and Game: Harvest Report Filing

Q. Every time I turn around, there is a reminder to file my big game harvest report. What's the hurry?

A. Hunters are asked to file their harvest report, regardless of whether they actually hunted with their tags or whether they took an animal, within 10 days of the harvest or within 10 days of the end of their hunts. There is a hurry: it takes some time to collect reports and turn them into a useful report for the Commission, which uses this together with winter herd counts and other biological information to set hunting seasons early in the new year for the fall. To report on your deer,elk, and/or pronghorn tag go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov or you can call 1-877-268-9365.