Press Release

November 2011

Commission Approves Extra Hunts in Bennett Hills

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Thursday, November 10, approved two proposed controlled antlerless hunts to help reduce mule deer numbers in part of the Bennett Hills.

Idaho Fish and Game will issue 250 tags for each of two extra controlled hunts in hunt area 45-1. The first, Hunt-1127, runs from December 1 through 14, and the second, Hunt-1128, runs December 20 through 31. Commissioners also approved adding 25 landowner appreciation program tags to both hunts.

Hunt Area 45-1 is the part of Game Management Unit 45 north of Interstate 84, east of the Bennett Mountain Road, and west of the Bliss-Hill City Road, excluding the Camas Creek drainage.

In August, the Blair Fire burned about 38,000 acres of critical mule deer winter range in the Bennett Hills north of King Hill and Glenns Ferry. Surveys have shown that more than 5,000 deer used the burn area in the past, representing about 40 percent of the total wintering population in the Smoky-Bennett Population Management Unit, made up of units 43, 44, 45, 48 and 52.

The antlerless hunts would help minimize deer crowding on remaining winter ranges, lessen deer use of private lands and roadways, and provide hunting opportunity. And they would help bring herd numbers into balance with the remaining habitat.

The Bureau of Land Management's travel restrictions in the burn area will affect hunter access during these hunts. A map of the motorized travel closure area will be provided to all successful hunt applicants.

The deadline to apply is November 18. Interested hunters may apply at any Fish and Game license vendor, by calling 1-800-55HUNT5, or on the Internet at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/.

Hunters who have successfully drawn for an extra deer tag in 2011 are not eligible.

Fish and Game Kills Bighorn Ram

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists Wednesday, November 9, killed a 4 1/2 year old bighorn ram that had wandered too close to domestic sheep on private property.

Healthy domestic sheep can carry bacteria that cause pneumonia and death in bighorn sheep.

The ram was first reported west of Castleford on November 8. When it was reported again on November 9, the ram was mingling with cattle in the pens of a dairy located within a few miles of several domestic sheep bands.

The ram's proximity to domestic sheep made contact highly likely, particularly during the fall breeding season. At this time of year, bighorn rams may travel to find ewes and later return to the main population.

To protect the population, Idaho Fish and Game policy is to remove bighorn sheep that have or are likely to contact domestic sheep. Samples were taken immediately after the sheep was killed, and the samples and carcass have been transported to the Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Health Lab in Caldwell for analysis.

For more information, please contact the Idaho Fish and Game's Magic Valley Region at 208-324-4359.

Most Upland Game Seasons are Still Open

Though many big game seasons are winding up, many upland game seasons are still open including several upland birds as well as cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.

Hunters will find upland hunting rules and shooting times in the rules brochure at license vendors and Fish and Game offices as well as on the department Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Seasons still open include:

¥ California quail through January 31 in northern and southwestern Idaho. Closed in eastern Idaho.

¥ Chukar and gray partridge through January 31.

¥ Pheasants through December 31 in Area 1 in northern Idaho and Area 3 in southwestern Idaho; through November 30 in Area 2 in eastern Idaho.

¥ Forest grouse, which includes ruffed, spruce and dusky (blue) grouse, through December 31 in most of Idaho; and through January 31 in the Panhandle Region.

¥ Cottontail rabbits through February 28 and snowshoe hares through March 31. The daily bag limit for both is eight, with 16 in possession after the first day.

There is no season on pygmy rabbits. To distinguish, note that cottontail tails are dark above and white underneath and the pygmy's tail is buffy gray with no white. The cottontail is more than a foot long, and the pygmy is less than one foot.

Waterfowl seasons also are open through January 13 in Area 1, northern and eastern Idaho, and through January 27 in Area 2, Magic Valley and southwestern Idaho.

Contact the local Fish and Game office to determine whether pygmy rabbits are found in your hunting area.

The fall general turkey season runs through December 15 in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6 in northern Idaho.

All hunters need a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license, or a 2012 license if they hunt in 2012. Turkey hunters also will need tags.

Commission Approves Purchase of Wildlife Habitat Tracts

Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, November 10, authorized the Fish and Game Department to pursue efforts to acquire 705 acres of critical low-elevation mule deer, pronghorn and elk winter habitat adjacent to the Boise River Wildlife Management Area and Hammer Flat.

The property was previously platted for a subdivision of about 1,350 homes, known as "the Cliffs" in 2007, although no improvements have been built.

Idaho Fish and Game's Boise River 30,000-acre wildlife management area borders this property to the north and east. This property was previously presented to the commission in March of 2010. Acquisition cost is $4,230,000 of Bonneville Power Administration wildlife mitigation funds. Payment in Lieu of Taxes is estimated at $2,000 annually. Annual operating costs, also to be paid from BPA mitigation funds, are estimated at $50,000.

The commission also authorized Fish and Game to pursue the purchase of 138 acres of low-elevation mule deer winter habitat, known as the Sandy Point-Krueger Tract, adjacent to Boise River WMA and Hammer Flat. The property also provides fawning habitat for pronghorn.

The property was platted into about 30 lots in the 1980s, although no homes have been built. Idaho Fish and Game purchased 11 of the lots, about 166 acres, in 1999 .

Idaho Fish and Game's Boise River 30,000-acre wildlife management area borders this property to the north, west and east.

Acquisition cost is $275,000 of BPA mitigation funds. PILT is estimated at $500 annually and annual operating costs are estimated at $7,500.

F&G Commission OKs Proposed Legislation

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, November 10, approved a list of proposed agency legislation to be submitted to the 2012 Idaho Legislature.

¥ Amend 36-1510 to also allow youth under the age of 12 who are participating in the mentor hunt program to possess a firearm.

¥ Create ability to transfer a control hunt tag to a minor child or grandchild.

¥ Amend the Nonresident Season Hunting License to be a Nonresident Season Hunting/3 Day Fishing License, retaining current fee structure for the nonresident season hunting license.

¥ Amend the Sportsman's Package License to include a wolf tag with an adjusted fee. The new fees would be $114.65 license fee plus $9.60 vendor fees for a total of $124.25. Idaho code requires half vendor fee per item for this license. The license and tags are scaled at about 63 percent of full price. Current total cost is $117.25.

Commissioners directed Fish and Game to develop revised language for the department's motorized hunting rule, and release it for public comment; meanwhile, Fish and Game will implement a moratorium on applying the rule in any additional hunt units.

Commissioners acknowledged that off-road vehicle use is one of the biggest issues for hunters.

The commission also adopted a policy for technical comments made by Fish and Game employees. The agency is often asked to comment on the potential effects of proposed projects on wildlife or wildlife habitat, and makes an average of 2,500 comments annually.

Any comments submitted would not be a formal policy position but an assessment of potential effects on fish or wildlife or habitat and how any adverse effects may be mitigated. Commissioners acknowledged their responsibility when a formal policy position is warranted.

The commission also reappointed Commission Chairman Tony McDermott as Idaho's representative to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Mandatory Hunter Report Reminders are in the Mail

Deer, elk and pronghorn hunters who have not yet filed their hunter reports will be getting a reminder postcard in the mail this week.

Many hunts are still open, and some continue through the end of November or December. This is just a friendly reminder to urge hunters to file their reports sooner, by putting in their hands the different ways they can report.

Fish and Game used to send letters to all hunters who had not reported on their tags. Now Fish and Game saves money by sending a reminder post card in November. Fish and Game will follow-up in December and January, with a random telephone survey of some hunters who have not filed their reports, to gather as much hunting and harvest information as possible.

If hunters file soon after they are done hunting, biologists have more time to analyze the data and make informed management decisions for the fall 2012 season.

This year, 137,600 hunters purchased 205,100 tags - one to six tags per hunter. As of November 14, 31,900 hunter reports have been filed, and they are coming in at about 1,000 reports per day.

Vehicle, Equipment Auction Set

A public auction of vehicles and other equipment used by Idaho Fish and Game is set for Saturday, November 19 at Dealers Auto Auction, 3323 Port Street in Nampa.

The auction will start at 10:30 a.m. This year's sale includes pickups, ATVs, travel trailers, boats and more.

To contact Dealers Auto Auction call 208-463-8250, or visit the Internet at https://www.daaofidaho.com.

Ask Fish and Game: Next Year's Tags

Q. When can I buy a hunting license and tags for next year?

A. Nonresidents can buy licenses, deer and elk tags beginning Thursday, December 1. Residents also can buy 2012 hunting licenses starting that day, 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 hunt winners are simply issued a controlled hunt tag at any license vendor. The rest are issued general season tags.

Extra Antlerless Deer Tags for Unit 45

JEROME - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be offering two extra antlerless deer controlled hunt opportunities during December in a portion of Unit 45 near the area of the Blair Fire. The hunts were approved 11-10-11 by the Fish and Game Commission.

The hunts have been established to reduce herd numbers prior to winter to help ease pressure on remaining habitat, minimize deer collisions on nearby roadways, and alleviate some depredations on private croplands.

The first controlled hunt will occur December 1 - 14, while the second will occur December 20-31. Each hunt will have 250 tags for antlerless deer only. These tags represent an extra deer hunting opportunity; hunters who already hunted or harvested this fall are eligible to apply for these hunts.

Interested hunters will need to apply by November 18 at any Fish and Game license vendor, by calling 1-800-55HUNT5, or on the Internet at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/

For more information, please contact Idaho Fish and Game's Magic Valley Regional Office at 324-4359.

Ask Fish and Game: Hunting Private Land

Q. A friend invited me to hunt deer and elk on his property. Do I need a hunting license and tag to hunt on private property?

A. You must have an Idaho hunting license and tag for the species you want to hunt, and you must stay within the season rules that Fish and Game has set up for the unit. All game belongs to the residents of Idaho, even when it is found on private property.

Down Under Poaching Suspects Arrested, Jailed

By Evin Oneale - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Three Australians suspected of poaching were arrested last week on multiple charges and later booked into the Elmore County jail.

Eleven charges have been filed against the men, with a combined bond set at $165,000.

Anton Kepeller, 58, Darren Tubb, 43, and Samuel Henley, 18, all from Tasmania, Australia, were contacted and later arrested by Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers on Thursday, November 3, near Atlanta. The following day, the three men appeared in court before Elmore County magistrate Judge David Epis, where formal charges were read.

Kepeller faces six misdemeanor counts, including possession of unlawfully taken elk, and aiding-counseling the killing of elk during closed season. Tubb was charged with three misdemeanors, including killing a bull elk closed season, wasteful destruction of elk, and transfer of a tag. Henley faces two charges, including attempting to kill elk during closed season and use of a tag of another.

Epis set bond for Kepeller, Tubb and Henley at $75,000, $50,000 and $40,000 respectively. He also added special conditions to the case, requiring the three men - should they bond out of jail - to appear for a bond hearing and not leave the state of Idaho.

The investigation continues, and more charges could be filed in the future.

Evin Oneale is the regional conservation educator for the Southwest Region.

Wolf Trapping Seasons Open This Month

It is that time of year again when trappers and hound hunters will be out and about in the wilds of Idaho.

While trapping has long been part of the landscape in Idaho, Fish and Game reminds hound hunters, hunters with bird dogs, and people with pets that trappers have an increased interest to be in the woods because of the wolf trapping season.

The wolf trapping seasons open Tuesday, November 15,and run through March 31 in the Lolo zone; Selway zone; Middle Fork zone; Dworshak-Elk City zone, except Unit 10A; and the Panhandle zone, except for units 2 and 3. All other zones are closed to trapping, subject to commission review in January.

Trappers must complete a required wolf trapping class before they can buy wolf trapping tags, valid only in zones with an open wolf trapping season. Licensed trappers may buy three tags per trapping season. Wolf tags cost $11.50 for resident hunters, and $31.75 for nonresidents. Trappers also may buy an additional two hunting tags per calendar year.

Details of wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules are available on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=266, and they are 1 in a pamphlet available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices.

Trapping regulations prohibit traps from the center and within 5 feet of center line of all maintained designated public trails and from the surface of all maintained designated public roads. Ground traps are prohibited within 300 feet of any designated public campground, picnic area and trailhead.

Hound hunters, hunters with bird dogs and other pet owners are responsible for keeping track and maintaining control of their dogs. It is illegal to allow dogs to pursue wildlife - except for dogs pursuing mountain lions and black bears during the open pursuit season.