Press Release

January 2011

Fish and Game Sets Big Game Public Meetings for Southeast Region

With the official first day of spring still two months away, it is hard to imagine that it is already time to plan big game regulations for the 2011 hunting season.

However, that is exactly what Fish and Game will be doing over the next few months, and we need your input.

Please join Fish and Game at a series of big game scoping meetings to be held throughout the southeast region:

February 7: Preston - Larsen-Sant Library, 109 South 1st East.

February 8: Malad City - Malad Senior Citizens Center, 26 North Main Street.

February 9: Soda Springs - Soda Springs Senior Center, 60 South Main Street.

February 10: Blackfoot - City Hall Council Chambers, 157 North Broadway.

February 15: Montpelier - Nat.l Oregon/California Trail Center, 320 N 4th St.

February 16: Pocatello - ISU Student Union, Little Wood River Room.

All meetings will start at 6 p.m.

Fish and Game staff will present fall 2010 check station data and present other information relevant to big game hunting and management issues in this part of the state. Public comment is necessary at these meetings, and is an important part of managing wildlife resources in southeastern Idaho.

Fish and Game will use public input to help prepare proposals for hunting deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear and mountain lion, and then present those proposals to the public again later in March.

"The public uses the resource, and so we want to understand how the public wants it managed," says Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator, for the southeast region of Fish and Game. "That doesn't mean we can make all hunters happy all the time, but we try our best to mesh what hunters want with what's best for the resource."

Moose, Sheep and Goat Seasons Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, January 27, approved moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons for 2011 and 2012.

The number of moose tags dropped, following declining hunt success in central Idaho. The new quota includes 761 tags for antlered bull moose, down by 7 percent from 2009-2010, and 163 tags for antlerless moose, down from 197 earlier.

Three tags for bighorn sheep were added in controlled hunt area 37, following a 2010 census of the herd. In southwestern Idaho, the total number of tags declined by one. Two tags each ere subtracted from early and late hunts in the Owyhee River area - controlled hunt areas 42-1 and 42-2. But the hunt in the Bruneau-Jarbidge drainages was split into early and late hunts and three tags added.

Two new hunts for mountain goats, with one tag each, were established in the Panhandle Region - one in Unit 1 and the other in units 7 and 9. In the Clearwater area, hunt boundaries were adjusted to create a new hunt in units 10 and 12, and a tag was added in eastern Idaho's Unit 67.

The fall 2010 hunting season was notable in that two new state record bighorn sheep were taken by Idaho hunters. The largest Rocky Mountain bighorn ram ever harvested by an Idaho hunter, scoring more than 197 Boone & Crockett points, was taken in Hells Canyon, and the largest California bighorn harvested by a hunter, at more than 185 points, was taken in the Jarbidge River drainage.

Moose, Sheep and Goat 2011 and 2012 rule books are expected to be available by the end of February. The application period for trophy species hunts runs from April 1 through 30.

Forecast Looks Good for Chinook Salmon Season

It's not expected to be as good as last year, but the 2011 Chinook salmon return is on track to be the sixth best year since 1980.

The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the forecast for numbers of returning fish are similar to 2008 and 2009.

Northwest fish managers estimate that about 198,400 Chinook bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year - last year the number was 315,300.

Of those, 66,400 hatchery fish and 24,700 wild fish are predicted to head up the Snake River to Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Last year's actual return was 134,300 hatchery fish and 35,600 wild fish.

Idaho fish managers estimate that 32,470 of the hatchery fish that cross Lower Granite Dam are bound for Idaho waters.

Last year, more than 38,000 returned to Salmon River hatcheries and more than 13,000 returned to Clearwater hatcheries.

It's too soon to tell just how many fish will actually show up, and what any fishing seasons might look like. Idaho fisheries managers expect to present proposed Chinook fishing seasons in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to the Fish and Game Commission in March.

In years past, Chinook seasons have opened in late April.

Winter Big Game Aerial Surveys Under Way

Idaho Fish and Game is conducting aerial surveys of big game in the elk ecology research study area in Unit 10, the northern portion of the Lolo elk management zone, and in Unit 10A, the Dworshak zone.

The helicopter surveys are scheduled during the winter months to cover areas at the same time of the year so that information gathered is comparable from year to year. The goal is to compare population trends, and age and sex ratios. This information allows biologists to be more precise in setting seasons and permit levels which results in maximum opportunity for hunters.

Besides finding big game animals congregated on lower elevation winter ranges, winter also bring two requirements needed to conduct accurate surveys - clear weather for good visibility and snow covering that aids in locating and identification of species. A helicopter flying low and slow over some of the most remote areas of the state is the most efficient tool for gathering big game herd information.

In spite of the high costs and the danger associated with low-level flying, helicopter surveys continue to provide wildlife managers with the best information to use in managing wildlife.

Fish & Game Plans Upper Snake Virtual Public Meetings

Hunters looking for the locations of public meetings on new ideas about the upcoming big game rules in the Upper Snake Region won't be able to find them.

The good news is that they are actually available at anytime and from anywhere that has an Internet connection to YouTube.

For decades, Idaho Fish and Game has had a tradition of holding public meetings to discuss changes hunters would like to see in future versions of the big game rules.

Unfortunately, said Daryl Meints, regional wildlife manager for the Upper Snake Region, "We are seeing less and less people attending our meetings, yet tens of thousands of people hunt our units."

The new virtual approach allows 24-hour, seven-day access to the same information that would be available at a traditional meeting, but users can select what species information they are interested in learning about. Hunters interested only in antelope don't need to sit through an entire meeting; they can view just the antelope video and then make comments via e-mail.

This new format is based on the same PowerPoint slides that are normally used at public meetings. An audio soundtrack was recorded for each species, using the same information that would have been presented at the old style meeting.

The images and narration were combined and converted into a video file that was then uploaded to the Fish and Game page on YouTube. Anyone can view the video files and then send suggestions to Fish and Game about changes they would like to see considered. Separate presentations lasting about five minutes have been posted for black bear, mountain lion, antelope, mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. Hunters can select any combination of videos at their leisure.

"At this stage we are looking for issues, not solutions," Meints said. "The solutions will be discussed in the next phase of the big game regulation setting process."

Should Motorized Hunting Be Regulated?

By Mark Gamblin - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The 2010 big game hunting season is now history, with stories of success, near misses, and golden memories for families and friends. Last hunting season was also the first year of implementation for the motorized vehicle hunting rule (MVR) in the Diamond Creek Zone (big game management units 66-A and 76), creating much public interest and discussion. In fact, the MVR has generated enough controversy statewide that it will be reviewed by the Idaho Legislature, with the possibility that it could be abolished if Senate Bills 1015 and 1016 are approved. If you are a hunter with concerns or opinions about the use of motor vehicles as a hunting tool, this issue affects you.

Please read on.

What is this issue about? The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted the MVR in 2002 to address three important wildlife management challenges: 1) Conflicts between hunters using off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and hunters not using OHVs. 2) Increasing harvest vulnerability of big game to hunters using OHVs to access remote areas. 3) Meeting public expectations for continued general season hunting (hunt every year) and abundant big buck deer and bull elk.

The Idaho backcountry is different today than only 25 years ago. Today, road and trail systems reach into the most remote areas, making motorized vehicles (especially OHVs) a hunting tool commonly used or encountered - except where off-road motorized travel is restricted by land managers.

As the technical capabilities of OHVs and their use by Idaho hunters have increased, social and biological conflicts have developed for the hunting public and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Complaints caused by conflicts between hunters using OHVs and hunters without OHVs have steadily increased for years.

Ask Fish and Game: Lifetime Licenses

Q. If I buy a lifetime license and leave the state, do I have to pay nonresident tag fees?

A. Yes. The lifetime license is valid regardless of where you live. Over years, you will save serious money on the license itself. But tag fees for nonresidents would apply if you become a resident of another state or country.

Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Meeting Scheduled

The Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Recovery Task Force and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have scheduled an informational "State of the Lake" public meeting.

Topics of discussion include the status of fish populations in Lake Pend Oreille; and, progress of the fishery recovery effort.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, February 17 at the Ponderay Events Center by the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint.

Presentations will summarize the results of the 2010 predator removal efforts, including lake trout netting, telemetry, and the Angler Incentive Program. In addition, biologists will provide updates on status of kokanee and bull trout populations.

The meeting is open to anyone with an interest in the lake. Following the presentations, there will be a question and answer session as well as time for informal discussion after the meeting.

For more information, contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-769-1414. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Jim Fredericks at the number above; or, through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).

Fish and Game Looking for Information on Poached Moose

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is looking for any information regarding a bull moose that was found shot and left to waste near Masson Butte, northwest of Orofino.

Officers responding to a call from a concerned citizen, found a bull moose near marker 10.5 on the Mason Butte Road. The moose was a large bull that had already shed its antlers. The moose was probably shot on or around January 23.

Fish and Game is looking for any additional information. Anyone with information on this crime may call the Lewiston Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010 or the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

Deer and Elk Outlook Good for Fall Hunts

Deer and elk numbers are meeting management objectives in most parts of the state, but hunter numbers are down.

White-tail deer are meeting management objectives for buck harvest throughout the state.

Mule deer exceed management objectives for buck to doe ratio. Statewide fawn survival last winter was about 70 percent, with high doe survival.

It's too early to tell how the mulies will fare this winter, but Fish and Game hopes to get a better idea from the 193 fawns, biologist recently captured and radio-collared.

Deer tag sales - white-tail and mule deer - have declined by 12,715 tags since 2008, when Fish and Game sold 145,869 tags. It dropped to 133,154 tags in 2010 - a decrease of about 9 percent.

Female elk meet or exceed objectives in 23 of 29 elk management zones; they are below objectives in six zones. Bull elk meet or exceed objectives in 20 zones and are below objectives in nine zones.

Fish and Game is conducting aerial surveys in the Panhandle, Dworshak, Boise River, Middle Fork, Lemhi and Teton elk zones this winter to update elk herd information in those zones.

Elk tag sales are down by 7,800 tags. Tag sales went from 92,565 in 2008 to 84,765 in 2010 - a decline of about 8 percent.

Overall elk hunter success rates are about 20 percent.

Fish and Game managers will bring proposed 2011 deer and elk seasons to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in late March.

For details of deer and elk status in Idaho go to the Fish and Game Web site - http://fishandgame.idaho.gov and from the Hunting home page, select "Game Species Info".

Family Ice Fishing Clinic and Derby Planned at Spring Valley Reservoir

Break out of your winter hibernation!

Bring the whole family to Spring Valley Reservoir near Moscow for a Family Ice Fishing Clinic and Derby from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, January 29.

Idaho Fish and Game will provide free bait as well as rods and reels for loan on a first-come-first-serve basis. Volunteers from the American Fisheries Society will be available to provide assistance to anglers new to the sport.

The University of Idaho Student Recreation Organization and Moscow Parks and Recreation, will host a fishing derby from 8 a.m. to noon. Prizes for the largest catch by age group will be awarded at noon, with several prizes to be given away throughout the morning to those who provide a $3 entry fee. Check-in will be on the eastside of the reservoir near the parking lot. Food and hot beverages will also be available for a small fee.

All Idaho fishing regulation apply, including anglers 14 years of age or older must possess a valid Idaho fishing license.

Spring Valley Reservoir is 55 acres, 13 miles east of Moscow and two miles north of Highway 8. Managed with simple fishing regulations, Spring Valley Reservoir provides a great place for families, kids and first-time anglers. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie are present in good numbers.

Apply Now for Spring Turkey, Black Bear Controlled Hunts

The application period for spring turkey and black bear controlled hunts is open and runs through February 15.

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.

Information on spring hunts is available in the current upland game and turkey rules and spring 2011 bear hunts are listed in the 2010 big game rules brochures. Hunters also may check with Fish and Game offices or vendors for new controlled hunt numbers, or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/rules/ug/.

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor, Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling 1-800-55HUNT5; or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/apply.cfm. The nonrefundable application fee for each species is $6.25 per person for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications.

Hunters must have a 2011 Idaho hunting license to apply.