Press Release

February 2011

Big Game Season Proposals Available

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to big game seasons for 2011.

Details of proposed changes are available on the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/11bgProp/ - or from regional Fish and Game offices.

A series of public meetings also have been set around the state. Anyone interested in Fish and Game's proposals is encouraged to attend a public meeting or to submit comments online. Public comments are an important part of improving hunting opportunities.

For a list of meetings, contact local Fish and Game offices or visit the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/. (Note: The big game season setting meeting scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, in Burley has been changed to the Best Western Burley Inn & Convention Center, 800 N Overland Ave., Burley.)

The deadline for comments is March 14. Written comments may also be mailed to regional Fish and Game offices or sent to: Big Game Comments, Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.

Comments will be compiled and submitted to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, which will set 2011 big game seasons on March 29.

Public Meetings Set for Salmon Seasons, Fishing Rules

Idaho Fish and Game is hosting public meetings to discuss potential salmon fishing seasons on the Clearwater River, the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam and the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers.

More than 52,000 hatchery Chinook salmon and another 20,000 wild salmon are expected to cross Lower Granite Dam this spring, with most of those fish bound for Idaho. This is considerably lower than last year's run, which exceeded 100,000 hatchery salmon and about 27,000 natural origin salmon across Lower Granite Dam - but still the eighth best year since 1979.

About 4,175 Rapid River Hatchery salmon are expected to be available for sport harvest on the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

"We need angler input regarding fishing area locations, fishing days of the week, possession limits and other issues related to this and other highly popular fisheries, on the Clearwater, Snake, upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers," Fish and Game fisheries manager Dale Allen said.

The Snake River Hells Canyon salmon fishery is expected to have 800 hatchery fish available for sport harvest, while the South Fork of the Salmon River is projected to have 3,200 hatchery salmon available for sport harvest. The Clearwater River is expected to have around 1,900 Chinook salmon available for harvest.

At upcoming public meetings, Fish and Game fisheries personnel will provide information about these fisheries, discuss options and collect comments to help draft fishing proposals. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider public comments and staff recommendations at the March 29 meeting, at which time they will set salmon fishing seasons for the Clearwater River, the Snake River (Hells Canyon) and the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers (Rapid River Hatchery fish).

The Chinook seasons for the South Fork of the Salmon and Upper Salmon rivers will be set at the May 19 commission meeting.

Shadows on the Snow: Following Winter's Wolverines

By Diane Evans Mack, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

After eight months of quiet inactivity, small log cabins are back in service in the wilds of central Idaho.

But don't expect to make a reservation for a back-country ski vacation; these cabins are not for human guests. They're designed to entice hungry or just plain curious wolverines to hop in, tug on some bait and close the lid on themselves. In doing so, these enigmatic animals become key players in a research study initiated last winter in the Payette National Forest to examine the interactions between winter recreation and wolverines.

Wolverines roam the wilder, more remote areas of Idaho. They're built for snow, from their thick fur to their large paws. When other animals hibernate or retreat to lower elevations in winter, wolverines remain and make a living in their harsh environment by uncovering carcasses or bones buried under snow.

However, there is concern that remote areas wolverines occupy are no longer truly remote in winter due to increasing recreational activity. This changing human presence potentially could affect wolverines, especially where females are denning or raising their young, known as kits.

A research project looking at this question is led by Kim Heinemeyer of Round River Conservation Studies and John Squires of the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Idaho Department of Fish and Game is a partner, as are the Payette, Boise and Sawtooth national forests, Idaho State Snowmobile Association, Central Idaho Recreation Coalition, Brundage Ski Area, University of Montana, The Wolverine Foundation, and Valley County.

F&G to Collect Adult Steelhead from South Fork Clearwater

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will, once again, be seeking help from the public in early March to collect adult hatchery steelhead for brood stock from the South Fork Clearwater River.

The goal of this program is to evaluate whether brood stock collected from the South Fork will result in increased runs of steelhead to this river in the future. Currently, the brood stock for the South Fork Clearwater River is collected at Dworshak Hatchery.

Fish and Game hopes to collect nearly 120 hatchery steelhead in about a week.

Considering an estimated 8,000 hatchery adult steelhead headed toward the South Fork Clearwater River crossed Lower Granite Dam this season, removing 120 fish for brood stock should have little or no impact on anglers' chances of harvesting fish.

Last spring, the public assisted Fish and Game collect about 100 hatchery origin steelhead for brood stock. This effort produced more than 200,000 smolts that will be released into the South Fork Clearwater River this spring.

When the smolts released this year return as adults, Fish and Game will be able to evaluate whether they returned at a higher rate than returning adults whose parents were captured at Dworshak Hatchery.

Ask Fish and Game: Horn Hunting

Q. I want to collect shed antlers, what sort of license do I need and what sort of restrictions are there?

A. You don't need a license, and the only restrictions are on access and travel on the land. Horn hunters, like other outdoor recreationists, must secure permission to cross or look for antlers on private land, and they must abide by transportation restrictions on federal and state public lands. Horn hunting typically starts in early spring. Deer, elk and moose shed their antlers over the winter, following the mating seasons. Pronghorn is the only species with horns to annually shed its horn sheath. Just after mating season, the pronghorn sheds its horns and only the permanent core remains. The horns of bighorn sheep that have died of natural causes also may be recovered but may not be sold, bartered or transferred to another person without a permit from Fish and Game. Bighorn sheep horns must be permanently marked with a metal pin at an Idaho Fish and Game regional office within 30 days of recovery. But horn hunters are asked to avoid disturbing animals during winter while they are conserving their resources trying to make it through to spring.

Big Game, Salmon Seasons to Highlight Fish and Game Meeting

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to an Idaho Fish and Game morning meeting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 8, at the Idaho Fish and Game office, 3316 16th St., Lewiston.

Department personnel will present information on a number of topics including:

  • Aerial survey results of the Dworshak Zone and 2011 Big Game season proposals.
  • Presentation on the upcoming salmon season, including the factors related the projected returns and the constraints that Fish and Game operates within.
  • Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area spring projects.

"Bring your questions and comments," said Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region supervisor. "This will be a very informative meeting."

The morning meeting is open to anyone and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about wildlife issues in the Clearwater Region. The meeting will conclude by 8:30 a.m., with coffee and doughnuts provided.

Hunter and Bowhunter Education Instructors Needed in Southeast Idaho

Idaho's hunter and bowhunter education programs are looking for new instructors to help meet the growing demand for courses in all southeast Idaho communities.

If you love to hunt, enjoy teaching youth, and wish to inspire new hunters to join one of Idaho's great outdoor traditions, then please consider signing up for one of the New Instructor Orientation trainings being offered in southeast Idaho.

  • Blackfoot, Wednesday, March 23 - Cedar Hills Gun Club, Exit 98 (Rose Exit) head west and follow signs.
  • Preston, Tuesday, March 29 - Larsen-Sant Library, 109 South 1st East.
  • Pocatello, Wednesday, March 30 - Fish and Game Regional Office, 1345 Barton Road.

All orientations will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and are free of charge. To register, please contact Terri Bergmeier at 208-251-6510.

New Instructor Orientations outline how to organize a class, select meeting sites, order supplies, and get students registered and certified. Instructors learn how to use lesson plans, teach using various methods, and employ effective teaching techniques in the classroom and at the range. All new instructors will also have the opportunity to shadow current experienced instructors before taking on classes of their own.

The heart of Idaho's Hunter/Bowhunter Education Program is the corps of volunteers who provide the instruction and mentoring. Instructors stand as examples of what each new hunter should be in ethics, behavior, and responsibility to themselves, landowners, other hunters and to the resource.

Support Idaho's hunting heritage. Become a hunter or bowhunter education instructor today!

Fish and Game Public Meetings in Salmon Region

Idaho Fish and Game is asking hunters to comment on a number of proposed changes for the 2011 big game hunting seasons in the Salmon Region.

Anglers are also being asked to comments on potential nonbiological rule changes for the 2013-14 fishing season. Nonbiological rules include equipment restrictions. They do not include rules addressing seasons, bag limits or size limits. The reason these rules are being scoped early is they must have legislative authorization.

These meetings will also address the proposed 2011 Chinook salmon fishing season. Each meeting will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, March 7, Salmon Challis National Forest Service Conference Room in Challis.
  • Tuesday, March 8, Jo Wenger Conference Room, Idaho Department of Fish and Game office in Salmon.

Those unable to attend a meeting can provide their comments by contacting regional personnel at 756-2271 or send their information in writing to Idaho Department of Fish and Game, P.O. Box 1336, Salmon, ID, 83467. Persons requiring special accommodations due to a disability should contact 756-2271 at least two days prior to the meeting.

For additional information contact Tom Curet or Tom Keegan at 208-756-2271.

Bluebird Nest Boxes Available

To greet the early spring arrival of Idaho's State Bird, the Mountain Bluebird, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering a limited number of bluebird nest boxes for $7 each.

Each nest box comes with a bluebird information sheet and plans to build your own box. Funds collected from the nest box sale are used to maintain the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area located near the Fish and Game office. Fish and Game volunteers constructed the cedar nest boxes.

Bluebirds nest throughout Idaho in higher elevation meadows, forested areas and open ridges in mountainous regions. However, many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood or taken by aggressive non-native species like the European starling and English house sparrow. Many bluebirds never find nest sites, so man-made nest houses can help fill the natural nest-site shortage.

Because bluebirds seldom nest in urban areas, boxes should be placed far from any building or community. In urban areas, nest boxes are likely to attract highly aggressive bluebird competitors such as starlings or house sparrows.

Bluebirds are territorial, so boxes should be placed at least 100 yards apart. Protect boxes from prevailing winds and the hot afternoon sun by mounting them on the north or east side of mounting posts or trees.

For more information on Idaho's bluebirds or volunteering for Fish and Game, contact the Clearwater Region Office, 3316 16th Street, Lewiston, 83501, 799-5010.

Public Meetings Planned on 2011 Big Game Seasons

Idaho Fish and Game plans a series of public open house meetings to discuss proposed big game seasons and rules for the fall hunting seasons.

Some meetings already have been set, others will be announced as they are set; most will be open house formats.

The details are still being worked out, but as soon as they are, the proposed seasons and rules will be available for review and comment on the Fish and Game Website - http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/public/ - or from regional Fish and Game offices.

Preliminary proposals include:

Clearwater Region:

  • Create new 11X deer hunt to address depredations.
  • Split 15X deer hunt tags into two separate hunts to redistribute the harvest and improve the response to depredation complaints.
  • Modify elk controlled hunts in Unit 11.
  • Change Unit 18 either-sex archery hunt for elk to antlered-only.

Southwest Region:

  • Consider final reduction of three-year phase-in of quotas on Sawtooth A and B tags.
  • Consider pronghorn archery controlled hunt results and potential season adjustments.

Magic Valley Region:

  • Address chronic elk depredations in units 52A, 56 and 45, with Landowner Permission Hunts, extra tag hunts, increased tag levels.
  • Consider expanding elk hunts in units 46, 47 and 57 where elk numbers have increased.
  • Move rotating deer muzzleloader hunt from units 52 and 56/57 to units 54 and 47.

Upper Snake Region:

  • Provide additional days of hunting opportunity for muzzleloader deer hunts in Units 63A and 64/65.
  • Reduce antlerless deer harvest in Unit 50.
  • Provide additional week of black bear hunting in Units 64, 65, 66, 66A, 67 and 76.

Salmon Region:

New Road-kill Marking System to Benefit Project

Anyone traveling throughout southeast Idaho may start noticing some wildlife carcasses - those unfortunate victims of vehicle collisions - lying on the side of the road, marked with bright orange paint.

This paint marking system is part of an overall effort by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Idaho Transportation Department to understand better the effects of roads and vehicle collisions on Idaho's wildlife, and the effects on public safety.

Fish and Game, Transportation and various county partners record information about the road kills observed along Idaho's highways and roads. Information, such as species, gender, age and location, is collected. Efforts are focused mostly on big game animals, such as deer and elk, but include other species, such as raptors and some nongame.

The paint marking system was devised to help reduce the duplication of road-kill reports and information. If Fish and Game, Transportation or other agency personnel are called in to remove a dead animal from a roadway, and the carcass has been marked with orange paint, they know not to record the road-kill information - it has already been done.

In addition, the data collection forms have been modified and are consistent among the various agencies assisting with the pick-up of wildlife road mortalities. And all historic road-kill data has been entered into a new statewide database created in a joint effort by Fish and Game, Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Good, standardized and complete data is essential to accomplish the main objective: reducing collisions between wildlife and motorists. All data entered is important for identifying wildlife crossing areas, public safety concerns, ecological linkage areas, and sites where overpasses, underpasses and adjacent land use management can benefit wildlife and public safety.

From the Field: Wintering Big Game

By Jim Lukens - Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Anyone who has driven Highway 93 North between Salmon and Gibbonsville recently may have noticed the number of deer and elk.

This is the result of winter migration behavior to escape higher elevation snow accumulation and low temperatures.

Generally speaking, the more severe the winter weather the greater the concentration of these animals at lower elevations. Unfortunately, this behavior concentrates animals in close proximity to humans and results in conflicts.

Many animals are struck and killed by vehicles. There is no failsafe solution to this problem. Drivers must reduce speed, particularly at night, and be vigilant of big game in or near roadways.

Another conflict is big game raiding stored and fed livestock feed. Big game animals actively search for food during winter, but they have adapted to surviving winter with considerably less food than they consume during the rest of the year. This is accomplished by reduced activity levels and using accumulated fat reserves.

The best thing we can do for wintering big game is to not deliberately feed them and try to eliminate access to stored and feed sources. Fish and Game policy is to provide supplemental feed only in emergencies. An emergency is dictated by a combination of factors, including snow depth, animal condition, snow crusting and temperature.

In the Salmon Region, these conditions are rarely met, and this season is not approaching emergency conditions.

When supplemental feeding is warranted, special pelletized mixtures of alfalfa and other items are used. These mixtures are specialized for deer and elk as plain alfalfa hay is extremely difficult for these animals to digest.

Private supplemental feeding is not prohibited, but it is strongly discouraged. Big game will readily consume hay but derive very little nutritional benefit from it.