Press Release

May 2011

Ask the Conservation Officer: Nuisance Animals

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Question: "I'm having problems with skunks around my house. What can I do to keep them away?"

Answer: Spring is the time when many wild animals begin looking for places to make their summer home, find easy foraging for food, and raise their young.

Warm temperatures also mean humans start spending more time outdoors.

Now is the time people should do a thorough evaluation of their property for opportunities for nuisance birds and animals. Scattered garbage or refuse, pet food, and birdfeeders should be cleaned up and put away for the summer.

Holes in foundations of buildings or in the skirting of trailers are inviting places for wild animals to take up residence. Now is also the time to repair woodpecker holes and close up other inviting openings in your eaves for squirrels, starlings, and bats.

Homeowners must also be vigilant to prevent swallows from packing mud into the eaves of a house. Continuous removal of the mud and providing an alternate nesting site usually results in the swallows moving to the alternate. For plans for an alternate nest area for swallows contact your local Idaho Fish and Game regional office.

Most wild animals easily adapt to human food. Skunks, foxes, and raccoons will take young fowl raised for human table-fare. They are also adept at eating birdseed, fruit, and pet food left outside intended for the cats or dogs.

Porcupines pose a threat to many pets and can girdle valuable landscaping but if handled carefully can be easily removed from residential areas and released back into the wild. Once they are on the ground, a broom or long handled shovel can be used to sweep them into a garbage can. Place the lid on the upright can and transport them out of the area for release.

Magic Valley Sportsmen's Fish Fry Set for June 9

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host the 2nd Annual Magic Valley Sportsmen's Fish Fry, Chips and Tips from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at the Magic Valley Region office, 324 South 417 East, Highway 93 Business Park, Jerome.

"Our goal is to provide anglers with the chance to learn more about fishing opportunities in the area and to learn from the experts how to fish for bass, walleye, sturgeon and salmon and have a bit of fun doing it," said Doug Megargle, regional fishery manager. "We want to make it easy for anglers to take advantage of great regional fishing opportunities."

While people are eating fried fish, hushpuppies and fries, they can wander and talk to local fishing clubs and sportsman will be on site to answer questions, display gear and tackle, and give advice to anglers wanting to learn more about how to catch their favorite fish species.

"We're also going to be treating those who attend to sample a little known secret delicacy we like to call the Asian sweetfish," Regional Supervisor Jerome Hansen said. "Folks will have to come to find out what it really is."

The food is not unlimited so come early if you want food. For more information on the Sportsmen's Fish Fry, call the Magic Valley Regional Office at 324-4359.

June 11 Is Free Fishing Day

Saturday, June 11 is Free Fishing Day in Idaho, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license.

Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

"Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop it into a life-long pursuit," Fish and Game regional fish manager Jeff Dillon said. "Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun fishing excitement."

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At special locations around the state, equipment will be available for use, and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to the special day. Look for the nearest event listed below, and "Take a Kid Fishing."

Panhandle Region: For information 208-769-1414.

  • Coeur d'Alene - Ponderosa Springs Golf Course, 7 to 11 a.m.
  • Bonners Ferry - Snow Creek Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Calder - Calder Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Clark Fork - Clark Fork Lodge, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Enaville - Steamboat Ponds, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Harrison - Harrison Marina, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Mullan - Lucky Friday Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Post Falls - Post Falls Park Pond, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Priest Lake - Priest Lake Golf Course, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Rathdrum - Rathdrum City Park, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Sandpoint - Round Lake State Park, 9 a.m. to noon.

Clearwater Region: For information 208-799-5010. All events 9 a.m. to noon.

Highway 21 Wildlife Underpass is Working

As the scenic State Highway 21 snakes its way across the Boise Mountains, it also intersects another favorite travel route.

For millennia, mule deer and elk have traveled to and from low elevation ranges where they spend the winter, to mountain meadows where they grow fat each summer feasting on the rich vegetation found at higher elevations. In doing so, they must cross State Highway 21.

In recent years, from 75 to 200 or more mule deer and elk, crossing the highway between Boise and Robie Creek, have been killed by vehicles each year.

So far this spring, only one animal has died in the stretch with a recently completed wildlife underpass.

The underpass was completed in October on Highway 21 near milepost 18.2, at the site of a well-documented big game migration "funnel" and subsequent collision "hotspot." A bridge replaced the fill that had supported the road, opening this migratory corridor to deer and elk. By physically separating wildlife and motorists, the underpass now provides protection for both.

The second phase of this project involves building a wildlife fence on the east side of the road to direct deer and elk away from the highway and towards the underpass. Federal stimulus money was used to build the bridge and part of the fence. But additional funding is still needed to complete the fencing project.

A group of local people working together to find ways to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions on our roads and highways worked with the Idaho Transportation Department to get the underpass built. The group's focus now is raising the money to complete the wildlife exclusion fencing to make the underpass even more effective than it has already been shown to be.

Dubbed the Boise River Wildlife Linkage Partnership, the group includes private citizens, business people, non-profits and city, county, state and federal representatives.

Please Leave Baby Animals Alone

The end of May and the beginning of June is the peak fawning and calving season for Idaho's deer, elk and antelope.

With campers and other outdoors enthusiasts heading out to the woods, well-meaning folks often find baby birds and other animals that seem to be abandoned. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking people to leave them alone.

"We have people calling us or bringing baby animals to the office every year," said Regan Berkley, Fish and Game regional wildlife biologist for the Magic Valley Region. "Even though their intentions are good, it isn't the best thing for the animals."

Mother animals often leave their young as they forage. If they return to their young to find people milling around, they will often leave the area and come back when the people are gone. If people have taken the baby animal, the mother will return to find their baby gone.

"If people bring young animals into the office we don't have many options," Berkley said. "We can attempt to return them back to where they were found, and hope their mother finds them, or we can see if any area zoos want them.

"During early summer, the baby is simply too young to survive on its own," she said. "Placing the animal in a zoo also doesn't always work, because zoos don't always have space for additional animals, particularly at this time of year."

If the animal is successfully placed in a zoo, it means the animal is removed from the wild forever. If neither returning the animal to the wild nor sending it to a zoo are good options, biologists have to consider whether euthanasia is the most humane thing to do.

"Basically, the only really good option is for the baby to stay in the wild in the first place," Berkley said.

Ask Fish and Game: Revocation Means No Free Fishing

Q. If I don't need a fishing license on Free Fishing Day, does that mean I can fish if my license has been revoked?

A. No. When the court revokes someone's hunting, fishing or trapping privileges for a period of time, it means just that, the privileges are revoked, whether they need a license or not. It is illegal for anyone to hunt, fish, or trap or purchase a license to do so during the time the privilege is revoked.

Fish And Game To Hold Youth Fishing Clinic June 18

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is soliciting young anglers, age 16 and under, interested in learning to catch bluegills.

Participants will have the opportunity to spend a morning or afternoon session with an experienced angler at Rose Lake.

The objective is to teach young folks a lifelong hobby, instill an appreciation of aquatic resources' and provide an inexpensive, fun family outing. One parent/guardian must accompany young anglers on the lake.

The clinics will be at 8 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 18. The event will enable young anglers to learn the basics of environmental stewardship, angling skills and fish cleaning. Participants will be treated to a fish fry or hotdogs and soda.

Fishing equipment and bait will be supplied for use during the clinic, but those who own fishing tackle are encouraged to bring it.

All participants will fish with Panhandle Bass Club Anglers on their tournament boats. No license is needed. Fish and Game will be issuing First Fish Certificates to recognize young anglers with a certificate that commemorates catching their first fish.

Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited. Call to reserve a spot at one of the two clinic sessions and obtain additional details: 208-769-1414

Please contact Fish and Game if you require special accommodations.

- 25 tagged bluegills with prizes worth up to $100.

- Door Prizes.

- No child will go away without a prize.

This is going to be a fun event and it's free. Don't miss out!

Hunters Have Options for Tags Reduced by Commission

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission reduced the number of tags in several mule deer controlled hunts because of high fawn mortality over the winter.

Hunters who applied for controlled mule deer hunts reduced by commission action may:

1. Apply for a different hunt.

2. Request a refund of their application fee.

3. Leave their application in place.

The odds of drawing a successful hunt in the units listed below may be reduced significantly, depending on how many hunters apply for the hunts or seek refunds.

Hunters seeking refunds must submit a request in writing to the Fish and Game licensing section. Anyone with questions should call licensing at 208-334-2592. Refund requests should be mailed to: IDFG Licensing Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, Idaho 83707; or via e-mail to: licenses@idfg.idaho.gov.

All refund requests must be postmarked by June 5, 2011.

Hunters choosing to apply for a different hunt may do so at any Fish and Game regional office. A list of regional office addresses can be found on the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/offices/.

Commissioners on Thursday, May 19, approved reductions to tag numbers set in the 2011 big game hunting seasons and the Land Owner Appreciation brochure because of high fawn mortality in some areas of southern Idaho hit by harsh winter conditions.

Overall, over-winter fawn survival among 15 study areas is the lowest since Fish and Game began monitoring; 69 percent of radio-collared fawns had died by April 30. Mule deer fawn survival was lowest in the McCall-Weiser area, at 9 percent, and in Island Park, at 18 percent.

Tag reductions apply to the following controlled hunts:

Ask Fish and Game: Brook Trout

Q. Is a brook trout really a trout? How come you can keep so many of them?

A. Technically the brook trout is a char, more closely related to bull trout than to rainbows or cutthroats. They are not a native species in Idaho. The limit is high because brook trout are very prolific and tend to out-compete and interbreed with the other trout species, including the native bull trout, a federally listed species. Brook trout can be a significant threat to fishing opportunity for native cutthroat trout. They also tend to become stunted when over-crowded in lakes, and they are difficult to remove once established.

Chinook Season Set on South Fork, Upper Salmon

Chinook return data show that the returns this year to the Clearwater, Snake and lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers may be better than forecast earlier this year.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 19, adopted Chinook salmon fishing seasons on the upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers, including a new stretch of water near the town of Salmon.

Commissioners also changed the daily and possession limits on Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

Salmon bound for the upper Salmon River and the South Fork Salmon River are a little later getting started, but the forecast is for sufficient returns to support sport fishing seasons.

The seasons would open June 25 on:

  • South Fork, lower - From the bridge on Forest Service Road (Lick Creek/East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the mainstem South Fork Salmon River just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 16 river miles to a posted boundary about one mile upstream from Fourmile Campground (about two miles downstream from Poverty Flat Campground).
  • South Fork Salmon, upper - From a posted boundary about one mile upstream from Fourmile Campground (about 2 miles downstream from Poverty Flat Campground) upstream about 17 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.
  • Salmon River, Section 17, Ellis Area - From the cable car crossing at the USGS flow gauging station, about 150 yards downstream of Island Park in Salmon, upstream to the posted boundary about 20 yards above the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River in Ellis.

And a season also will open on July 2 on:

Commission Lays out Framework for Idaho Wolf Management

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 19, directed the Fish and Game Department to:

  1. Manage wolves in a manner that will ensure wolves remain under responsible state management in conjunction with the rest of Idaho's wildlife.
  2. Manage wolves as big game animals consistent with the goals and objectives of the 2002 Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management plan approved by the Idaho Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep wolves off the Endangered Species List.
  3. Control wolves where they depredate on livestock and other domestic animals or threaten human safety.
  4. Control the population of wolves and other predators as needed to address areas where elk or other prey populations are below management objectives.
  5. Develop wolf hunting season recommendations for consideration at the Commission's July 2011 meeting and develop trapping recommendations.
  6. Conduct additional species management planning as appropriate.

Commissioners also agreed to support the state the of Idaho's legal defense of challenges to state management, such as those lawsuits challenging the 2011 congressional action for wolf delisting, and urge Congress to continue to provide funding for monitoring, control and depredation compensation related to the wolf population introduced by the federal government into Idaho.

Commission Reduces Deer Controlled Hunt Tags

Updated Idaho Fish and Game information on mule deer population status and over-winter survival shows high fawn mortality in some areas of southern Idaho.

Overall, over-winter fawn survival among 15 study areas is the lowest since we began monitoring; 69 percent of radio-collared fawns had died by April 30. Mule deer fawn survival was lowest in the McCall-Weiser, at 9 percent, and the Island Park, at 18 percent, areas.

Because of the below normal over-winter survival of mule deer in some areas of Idaho, the commission approved the following reductions to tag numbers set in the 2011 big game hunting seasons and rules booklet and the Landowner Appreciation Program brochure:

Hunt Type - Hunt Number - Hunt Area - Unit(s) - Proposed Change

Controlled - 1039 - 60-1 - 60, 60A, 62A - Reduce tags from 50 to 25 (buck only).

Controlled - 1040 - 62 - 62 - Reduce tags from 30 to 15 (buck only).

Controlled - 1042 - 67 - 67 - Reduce tags from 40 to 20 (buck only).

Controlled - 1047 - 22 - 22 - Reduce tags from 350 to 150 (antlerless hunt).

Controlled - 1049 - 31 - 31 - Reduce tags from 350 to 150 (antlerless hunt).

Controlled - 1050 - 32 - 32 - Reduce tags from 450 to 225 (antlerless hunt).

Controlled - 1051 - 32A - 32A - Reduce tags from 450 to 225 (antlerless hunt).

Controlled - 1062 - 60-1 - 60, 60A, 62A - Reduce tags from 50 to 0 (antlerless hunt).

Controlled - 1063 - 60-2 - 60, 61, 62A - Reduce tags from 400 to 40 (either-sex hunt).

Controlled - 1064 - 62 - 62 - Reduce tags from 100 to 10 (either-sex hunt).

Controlled - 1066 - 67 - 67 - Reduce tags from 75 to 20 (either-sex hunt).

Controlled - 1088 - 64 - 64, 65 - Reduce tags from 50 to 10 (either-sex hunt).

Hunt Type - Hunt Number - Hunt Area - Unit(s) - Proposed Change

LAP - TBD - 22 - 22 - Reduce tags from 35 to 15 (antlerless hunt).