Press Release

December 2010

Otter Trapping Quota Reached In Panhandle, Season Closed

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has announced that the river otter harvest quota of 15 otters for the Panhandle Region was reached at 10 a.m. Tuesday, December 28.

The otter season for the entire region closes 72 hours after the harvest quota has been met. This will occur at 10 a.m. Friday, December 31.

Trappers will be allowed to keep otters trapped within this period provided their personal quota of two has not been reached.

Any otters trapped in the Panhandle Region after 10 a.m. December 31 must be surrendered to Idaho Fish and Game for a $10 reward.

Salmon River Tributaries Important to Fish

By Bob Esselman - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Even after years of working on Idaho's rivers and streams, a fisheries project can still amaze me.

This past summer I got to enjoy one of those pleasant surprises. As both a fish biologist and an avid angler, I know that the cold, flowing water of a tributary stream is important to cold water fish species, in Idaho primarily salmonids, such as rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, steelhead and Chinook salmon.

Last summer the Salmon Region fisheries crew sampled the main stem of the Salmon River from Stanley downstream to Challis. The Sawtooth Fish Hatchery stocks rainbow trout in this reach of the upper Salmon River throughout the summer, and most anglers target those stocked fish. It had been a while since we evaluated the wild fish population in this reach. Generally, they were considered to be at a relatively low density. From my perspective, this was going to be a mediocre fish population at best. I expected to see a low density of hatchery fish with a few wild trout.

In July, we donned our snorkel gear and examined 17 sites close to the mouths of tributaries flowing into the Salmon River. And here's where the excitement picked up. In these locations, we counted 107 cutthroat trout, 173 wild rainbow trout, 108 hatchery rainbow trout, 76 bull trout, 341 mountain whitefish and 456 juvenile Chinook salmon.

Spring Steelhead Season Opens Saturday

The steelhead spring harvest season opens Saturday, January 1, on parts of the Clearwater, the Salmon, the Little Salmon, the Snake and the Boise rivers.

The steelhead limit is three per day, nine in possession and 20 for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch and release.

On January 1, anglers need a 2011 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit.

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 - except on the Boise and the Snake above Hells Canyon Dam where barbless hook are not required.

Steelhead fishing on the:

Ask Fish and Game: Spring Turkey Hunts

Q. How soon can I apply for a spring turkey controlled hunt?

A. The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts starts January 15 and runs through February 15. That's also the time to apply for spring black bear controlled hunts. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15-some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

New Fishing Seasons and Rules Book Available

Fishing seasons and rules for 2011-2012 are now available, but anglers should note the new format and a few significant changes.

New fishing rules take effect January 1.

Anglers will find the new brochure in an easier to read format and 16 pages shorter. All the rules are presented by region, eliminating the need for statewide rules. Thus the number of exceptions was reduced by a third overall while maintaining all necessary protections.

The new rules make year-round seasons on rivers and streams the general rule instead of the exception.

For years, fishing on rivers and streams was open Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend through November 30. A winter stream season opened December 1 and ran through March 31 on trout, whitefish and brook trout on selected streams.

Through the years, more and more stream segments have been opened through the winter by exception - so many in fact that the exceptions outnumbered the streams open under the general rule.

Many streams already are open through the winter, but the new rules bring some opportunities by opening streams from April through the Friday before Memorial Day.

Other major changes add a month of ice fishing on Henrys Lake and opens the Snake River below American Falls Dam to winter catch-and-release fishing.

The new rule keeps Henrys Lake open through January 1, providing another month of ice fishing. Though it is closed in December this year, the lake will be open on January 1, but for that day only.

The winter fishing season on the Snake River below American Falls Dam begins October 16 for catch-and-release using artificial flies and lures. The general harvest season begins Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and ends October 15.

Moose, Sheep and Goat Changes Proposed

Idaho Fish and Game proposed changes to moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat rules and seasons for 2011-2012.

The proposed changes will be submitted to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for considered and action during the annual meeting January 27.

The proposals are available for review and comment from Fish and Game offices and on the Internet at Comments may be entered online, by email to or by mail to Trophy Species Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Public comments are due by the end of the day January 14.

Open house public meetings are planned in regions around the state.

Craig Mountain Gates To Open

With the recent snows, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has opened the access gates on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

The gates will close March 15, 2011, or earlier if the snow depths recede below 16 inches.

Fish and Game encourages snowmobile users to use extreme caution in the area. Because of wildfires, many trees are expected to fall the next few years and new fences were constructed in several areas to restrict illegal off-road use. Salvage logging will also be in progress so users need to be cautious of the increased traffic.

The Lewis and Clark Snowdrifters annually groom and remove obstacles on almost 200 miles of trails on Craig Mountain and surrounding area to enhance access and improve safety.

Anyone with questions about snowmobiling on Craig Mountain can contact Fish and Game at 208-799-5010.

A Land All Up and Down: Cecil D. Andrus WMA

By Anna Owsiak - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Nestled in the breaks of Hell's Canyon and overlooking Brownlee Reservoir is the Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area, more commonly known as Andrus WMA.

This 24,000-acre area is home to a number of wildlife species, plant communities and wildland recreational opportunities. Each year, thousands of hunters, hikers and wildlife watchers enjoy access to this unique and special place.

Before becoming Andrus WMA, the area was a working cattle ranch, locally known as the Hillman Ranch. The owners were committed to preserving the ranch's uniqueness, wildlife values and its continued availability to hunters and public land users. The Mellon Foundation acquired the ranch from the Hillmans in 1993 and then transferred ownership to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Today the WMA is composed of lands owned by Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Lands, and federally owned land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service; it is managed through a multi-agency conservation partnership. Fish and Game is responsible for the daily operations on Andrus WMA.

Andrus provides critical winter range for almost 900 elk and 1,500 mule deer each year. Bighorn sheep are found in the Duke's Creek and Wildhorse Creek basins. Chukar, Hungarian partridge, California quail and forest grouse are found year round on the WMA. Wild turkeys are also year-round residents, and are most visible during the winter months near WMA headquarters. Mountain quail, one of Idaho's species of special concern, were found on the WMA in the past, although none have been seen in recent years. Perhaps one day their distinctive call will be heard again.

Other WMA wildlife includes black bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, badgers, pack rats, bats, rabbits and songbirds. Eagles and hawks are also year-round residents and are most visible in the spring and summer.

Don't Forget to File Hunter Reports

All deer, elk and antelope hunters must complete and submit a report for each tag issued within 10 days of harvest or within 10 days of the close of the season for which the tag was valid.

The easiest way is to submit the hunter report card online at, and click on the logo below the photo.

Submitting online is the surest way to have hunt information included and the only way to get confirmation that the report was received.

Reports may also be called in 24-hours a day toll-free at 1-877-268-9365.

Fish and Game mailed 99,000 reminder postcards in early November to households with tags not yet filed. Some hunts continue into December, and hunters are encouraged to file their reports as soon as they can after their hunt is over.

As of December 20, Fish and Game had received 95,000 reports, which is about 43 percent of the tags sold. More than 1,200 reports have been coming in every day.

If you have any questions or problems entering your hunter report please call Fish and Game's Wildlife Bureau at 208-334-2920.

Owyhee Elk Poaching Suspects Arrested, Charged

Two Caldwell men, father and son, face five felony charges stemming from the early November poaching of two six-point bull elk in Owyhee County.

A call to the Citizens Against Poaching hotline by an eyewitness set the case in motion.

Vance Nelson, 53, and his son Roy, 26, both of Caldwell were arrested on felony warrants after a grand jury hearing the case indicted both men on 11 charges brought against them.

Vance Nelson applied for and successfully drew one of 10 bull elk tags for the Owyhee County hunt, but his son now faces felony charges for killing both animals.

Roy Nelson was charged with one felony count of taking two elk in a closed special draw area, one felony count of conspiracy and a third felony count of destruction of evidence. In addition, he faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of a game tag, possession of unlawfully taken game and waste of a game animal.

Vance Nelson was charged with one felony count of conspiracy and a second felony count of destruction of evidence. In addition, he faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful transfer of tag, possession of unlawfully taken game and waste of a game animal.

Both men await a preliminary hearing in Owyhee County later this month.

Anyone with any information about suspected poaching activity are encouraged to call the Citizens against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards for information leading to the successful conclusion of a case.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Looking for a last minute gift idea, or a great stocking stuffer?

Go to any Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional office around the state and buy a gift certificate for a 2011 hunting and fishing license. They're always in style, never the wrong size or color, and useable every day of the year.

A gift certificate is the best way to get them their hunting and fishing license for Christmas. Adult residents age 18 and over have to buy their own license because they need to show proof of residency.

Idaho Fish and Game gift certificates can be redeemed only at Fish and Game regional offices.

Several options and price ranges are available. Lifetime licenses cost from $276.75 to $1,113.00, depending on the age of the recipient. Seasonal licenses sell from $7.25 for junior hunting to $117.25 for the Sportsman's Package. A hunting license costs $12.75, and a fishing license costs $25.75.

The Sportsman's Package includes hunting and fishing licenses, tags for deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, turkey, salmon and steelhead as well as archery and muzzleloader permits. That is a savings of nearly a $70 over buying the items separately.

If playing a game of chance is more your style, the Idaho Fish and Game also offers tickets for Super Hunt drawings for individual deer, elk, pronghorn or moose hunts, and Super Hunt Combos for deer, elk, pronghorn and moose. The money raised from the purchase of these tickets goes to the Access Yes! Program. The tickets can be purchased at any license vendor.

Super Hunt entries cost $6 for the first one, and $4 for each additional entry for the same species when purchased during the same transaction. Super Hunt Combo tickets cost $20 for the first one, and $16 for each additional entry purchased during the same transaction.

The drawings for the all Super Hunts will be in June and August 2011.

Elk Baiting Poachers Fined, Lose Hunting Privileges

Two California residents and a north Idaho man have pleaded guilty in a case of elk illegally killed over bait in Boundary County.

Idaho Fish and Game officers began working the suspected elk baiting case in December 2009. Suspects were observed setting out bait to attract elk, but they didn't kill any elk.

This year Fish and Game officers staked out the site again. The suspects returned.

On property belonging to Richard Raine, of Bonners Ferry, enforcement officers observed Raine's daughter Barbera Johnson, 40, of Sacramento, Calif., hunt and kill a six-by-seven point bull elk from a tree stand at the bait site.

Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas applied for a search warrant for Raine's property. Magistrate Judge Justin Julien issued the warrant on December 11.

Idaho Fish and Game officers assisted by US Border Patrol and Idaho State Police served the warrant on December 12. They found a female elk killed by Robert Johnson, 41, also of Sacramento, hanging in a shop with the bull elk killed by Barbera Johnson.

Fish and Game officers arrested Robert Johnson and issued citations to Barbera Johnson and Raine.

All three suspects appeared in court in Boundary County on Monday, December 13.

Robert Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk and one count of taking an elk over bait. He was fined $3,000 and assessed $2,250 in civil penalties and $350 in court costs. Barbera Johnson pleaded guilty to hunting elk without a license, hunting elk without a tag and taking elk over bait. She was fined $3,000.

Both lost their hunting privileges five years.

Raine pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk. He was fined $1,000 and lost his hunting privileges for two years.