Press Release

December 2012

Moose, Sheep, Mountain Goat Open House Slated

Proposed statewide 2013/2014 moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons will be the focus of an open house hosted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Fish and Game will host an open house from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, January 4, at the Southwest Region office at 3101 S. Powerline Road, Nampa.

In southwest Idaho, no changes in current seasons or limits for moose, bighorn sheep or mountain goats are being proposed for the next two hunting seasons. However, hunt changes are being proposed in other parts of the state. A complete list of statewide trophy season proposals - and the opportunity to comment online - can be found on the Fish and Game website at: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/trophyproposals.

January 9 is the deadline for proposal comments, and Fish and Game staff will compile public comments and present their findings to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in advance of the January meeting in Boise.

For more information, contact Fish and Game's Nampa office at 465-8465. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Kim Cox at the Fish and Game Nampa office (465-8465) or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD).

Looking Back at 2012 at Fish and Game

People from around the state and a variety of viewpoints participated in person and online in the Idaho Wildlife Summit over the weekend of August 24-26.

More than 500 people participated in person. Many others participated online; more than 3,000 logged on to watch the streaming video. The list of those tuning in online spanned the globe, with people logging in from across the United States and countries that included the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Hungary.

Featured speaker Shane Mahoney, of Newfoundland, Canada, praised Fish and Game for taking on the challenge of bringing together the diverse interests in wildlife conservation - people who have a passion for wildlife and conservation in common.

"I'd rather have a world with people who are so vitally concerned with wildlife that they fight amongst each other, than a world with people who don't give damn," Mahoney said during his presentation Saturday, August 25.

The entire three-day event was recorded. Video is available on the Fish and Game website arranged by presentations and activities, such as individual speakers and the Idaho CafŽ group discussion session.

New Commissioners

In June, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter appointed two new members to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Joan Hurlock of Buhl and Will Naillon of Challis began four-year terms July 1, but they must be confirmed by the Idaho Senate when it convenes in January 2013.

Hurlock succeeds the outgoing Commissioner Wayne Wright of Twin Falls, representing the Magic Valley.

New Rules Take Effect January 1

Several new rules, including a mentored hunting program and changes to fishing rules, take effect January 1; all of them are subject of legislative review.

A new mentored hunting program will allow a person 8 and older to participate in a mentored hunt program without being required to hold a hunter education certificate.

A Hunting Passport is a special authorization that allows the person to take wildlife only when they are accompanied by a mentor and participating in the Mentored Hunting Program. They may participate in the program only for one year, and the Hunting Passport expires December 31 of the year it was issued.

A person with a Hunting Passport at least 8 years old may hunt small game and most upland game birds, but a person must be at least 10 to hunt turkey or sandhill crane and at least 12 to hunt big game.

The mentor must be at least 18 and must possess a valid Idaho hunting license, and he or she may mentor no more than two others at a time.

For anglers, the most significant statewide change is a shift to a three-year cycle. This means the new rules will be effective through 2015. The extension from the former two-year cycle was done to minimize the confusion associated with frequently changing rules.

In addition, the limit on trout will go down to two per day in some streams and urban ponds in the Clearwater, Southwest, Southeast and Upper Snake regions on January 1.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted the rule in November. The goal is to increase opportunity for more anglers to catch stocked fish and to reduce the boom and bust cycle with the stocking program.

Affected waters are Big Elk Creek, Crooked Creek and Red River in the Clearwater Region; Parkcenter Pond, Weiser Community Pond, McDevitt Pond and Wilson Ponds in the Southwest Region; Edson Fichter Pond in the Southeast Region; and Becker Pond in the Upper Snake Region.

Applying for Spring Black Bear Controlled Hunts

The application period for spring black bear controlled hunts runs from January 15 through February 15.

Spring black bear controlled hunt seasons start April 15. Leftover tags go on sale April 1.

Information on 2013 spring hunts is available in the 2012 big game rules brochure. 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 2013 Idaho hunting license to apply.

Spring Steelhead Season Opens New Year's Day

A sure cure for cabin fever, the spring steelhead season opens January 1, but anglers will need a 2013 fishing license and steelhead permit.

Spring steelhead seasons open on the:

  • Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
  • Clearwater River main stem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
  • Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

    The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:

  • On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
  • On the Little Salmon River the season runs through May 15.
  • On the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.

Steelhead are in the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. Here steelhead are defined as rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin. This year about 1,000 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River.

Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead.

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

Steelhead anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit.

Fish & Game Hosts Online Chats about Licenses

Idaho Fish and Game officials fielded 182 questions from 274 participants during an online chat Wednesday, December 19.

Fish and Game's licensing manager Craig Wiedmeier and enforcement chief Jon Heggen responded to a flurry of questions covering a wide range of license-related topics, including Idaho's new Mentor Hunt Program, possible future license options, disability, youth and lifetime licenses, controlled hunt questions and much more.

"We know that our license holders have a lot of questions about our various licenses and options," Heggen said. "Folks definitely brought their questions, and we did our best to answer as many as we could."

In addition to receiving answers to their questions and learning more about various licensing products and programs, participants responded to poll questions and provided their feedback during the hour and half chat.

Based on the amount of interaction and the positive response, Fish and Game officials will use what they learned to help plan future chat events.

For a replay of the chat, visit Fish and Game's home page at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, and look for the licensing chat link.

Ask Fish and Game: Ice Fishing

Q. Is there enough ice for ice fishing yet anywhere?

A. Though lakes and reservoirs may be ice-covered, they may not all be safe yet for ice fishing. Anglers must use their own discretion when deciding whether or not the ice is thick enough for ice fishing. Early season ice anglers should check ice before walking far from shore. Drill a hole and measure thickness. Four inches of solid ice - not mushy or porous - is generally considered safe. Fish with a partner, take extra dry clothes and take a throw rope along just in case. Some experienced ice fishers suggest carrying a screwdriver or other sharp instrument on a lanyard around the neck. It would give a person who has fallen through something to grip the ice with to help pull themselves out, or at least something to hang onto as they await help. Anglers also should pay attention to weather trends. If the weather warms up, ice may become less safe for fishing. And remember the reservoirs are filling through the winter, so be careful around the shoreline, as the ice is often thin on the edges. Check with local Fish and Game offices for updates on ice fishing.

Idaho Fish & Game Seeks Input on Trophy Species Rules

The Southeast Region of Idaho Fish and Game has scheduled an open house to gather public comments on proposed changes to moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons and rules for the 2013-2014 hunting seasons.

The open house will be Monday, January 7, 2013, at the Fish and Game office located at 1345 Barton Road in Pocatello. Wildlife staff will be available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to discuss the proposed changes.

The proposed changes for the southeast region include:

  • Unit 70 - add three bull tags, for a total of eight tags in the unit.
  • Unit 70 - add a new antlerless hunt with five tags.

These changes are designed to provide additional opportunity in an area with a healthy moose population and to reduce conflicts in the urban areas surrounding Pocatello.

Proposed changes for all the Fish and Game regions are posted online at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/trophyproposals. Comments can be entered online; via mail to Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1345 Barton Rd., Pocatello, ID 83204; or by calling the southeast regional Fish and Game office at 208-232-4703.

Public comments are due by January 9.

The proposed changes along with public comments will be submitted to the Fish and Game Commission at their January 17 meeting.

Fish and Game to Conduct Big Game Aerial Surveys

Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologists will be conducting big game aerial surveys in the Garden Valley and Lowman area and the Middle Fork Boise River area from early January through the end of February.

They will use helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and area residents can expect to hear and see low-flying aircraft during daylight hours.

Along with other key hunt units across the state, these areas are surveyed from the air every three years. Collected information will be compared to previous years, providing population trend information and used to set 2013 hunting seasons and permit levels.

For information, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 or the McCall office at 208-634-8137.

F&G Commission to Meet in Boise in January

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet January 16 -18 at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise.

The annual meeting starts with a public meeting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, January 16. Members of the public who want to address the commission on any topic having to do with Fish and Game business may do so at the public hearing. All testimony will be taken into consideration when the commission makes decisions on agenda items at the meetings.

Routine agenda items include setting seasons for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, a budget preview, big game briefing and the appointment of winter feeding advisory committee members.

Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting the Idaho Fish and Game Director's Office at 208-334-5159 or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-2529 (TDD).

Egin-Hamer Area Closure Goes Into Effect Jan. 1

For the 15th year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off limits to human entry to protect wintering deer, elk and moose herds.

The closure begins on January 1 and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of it. To help keep things straight, the signs marking the area north of the Egin-Hamer road are fluorescent orange, while the signs for the earlier opening southern portion are lime green.

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road 15 years ago continues to be a success, not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife. The winter has been mild so far; the lack of human disturbance created by the closure allows herds of deer, elk, and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring. Though the closure has been around for years, officials from the Idaho Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management and Fremont County still make dozens of contacts related to closure violations, especially local college students.

The arrangement for the closure was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the BLM with the idea of the area closure in return for the re-opening of the Egin-Hamer Road for winter travel. State agencies, such as Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Lands, also have land involved in the closure and play an active role in management.

Individual landowners accessing their own private lands are exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, is also exempt from the closure. County officials earlier this year explored the possibilities of modifying the closure area but did not pursue plans.

Moose, Sheep and Goat Changes Proposed

Idaho Fish and Game wants to hear from hunters about proposed changes to moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons and rules for 2013-2014.

Proposed changes in moose tags are in response to decreased success rates in past years and fewer moose. Fish and Game biologists are proposing an increase in tags and new hunts where moose are doing better.

Proposed changes will be posted on the Fish and Game website for review and comment. The proposed changes will be submitted along with public comments to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration and action during the annual meeting January 17.

Comments may be entered online, by email to idfg-staff@idfg.idaho.gov or by mail to Moose, Goat, Sheep 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 9.

Proposed changes for moose:

  • Panhandle - add 12 bull tags and five antlerless tags.
  • Clearwater - add four bull tags, and four antlerless tags, reduce 58 bull tags.
  • Southwest - no change.
  • Magic Valley - no change.
  • Southeast - add three bull tags, and five antlerless tags.
  • Upper Snake - add one bull tag.
  • Salmon - reduce one bull tag.

Proposed changes for bighorn sheep:

  • Clearwater - no change.
  • Southwest - no change.
  • Magic Valley - no change.
  • Upper Snake - no change.
  • Salmon - add one tag.

Proposed changes for mountain goat:

  • Panhandle - no change.
  • Clearwater - no change.
  • Southwest - no change.
  • Magic Valley - no change.
  • Upper Snake - reduce three tags.
  • Salmon - no change.