Press Release

January 2013

Fish Mortality Reported at McCall Hatchery

About 60,000 Chinook salmon fry have died as a result of a water supply problem at the McCall Fish Hatchery.

The problem was reported at 8 a.m. January 24, 2013. The supply valves delivering water to two of eleven incubator stacks containing Chinook salmon fry were blocked by organic debris that reduced inflow to a trickle. Two release groups of Chinook salmon were affected.

The South Fork Summer Chinook salmon group was reduced by about 35,300 fry, representing 3.3 percent of the pre-incident inventory. The estimated remaining inventory of 1,066,700 fry should be sufficient to make the target release of 1,000,000 smolts. This release supports the salmon fisheries in the South Fork Salmon River.

The Johnson Creek Summer Chinook salmon group was reduced by about 25,400 fry.

The estimated remaining inventory is 92,600 fry, representing 92 percent of the smolt release goal for this group. These fish are released un-clipped and are produced to supplement natural fish production in Johnson Creek, a tributary to the South Fork Salmon River.

The incident is the first of its kind in more than 30 years of continuous operation at the McCall hatchery. The affected water supply system was shut down and inspected. The system was flushed, re-inspected, and put back into operation. Preventive measures have been implemented and additional risk reduction alternatives are being explored by staff members.

Ice Fishing Event Planned

Stocked with fishing tackle, Idaho Fish and Game's "Take Me Fishing" trailers travel to local waters across the state to promote fishing opportunities.

Wrapped with vibrant fish illustrations, they're easy to recognize.

The Panhandle Region trailer will be all geared up and ready to go for a "Take Me Ice Fishing" event on Saturday, February 23, at Hauser Lake from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Free hot dogs and hot chocolate will be served while supplies last.

Fishing equipment and bait can be checked out free during the event. Fish and Game employees and volunteers will use gas-powered ice augers to drill holes for everyone participating. Kootenai County Parks and Waterways will have the parking lot plowed for vehicles and the restroom facilities ready.

Reservations are not needed, but equipment will be checked out on a first-come, first-served basis. If you own ice-fishing gear, it would be helpful for you to bring your own. Last year, there was a short wait for equipment when everything in the Fish and Game fishing trailer was checked out.

Participants will not need a license to fish during the hours of the event if they sign in at the fish trailer. However, all other rules such as size limits and species limits do apply.

Idaho children 13 years old and under can always fish for free. These events give their parents, older siblings and friends the opportunity to try fishing without first buying a license or equipment.

Getting youths excited about fishing will help build a new generation of anglers. The only thing kids and their parents need to do is dress warmly, wear good boots and show up.

Research Project Begins Lake Trout Population Study

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is beginning a comprehensive study of the lake trout population in Priest Lake.

The cooperative project with the University Of Idaho College Of Natural Resources and the Kalispel Tribe comes on the heels of an energetic public debate about long-term management of the lake's sport fishery.

The research will focus on estimating the number of lake trout currently in Priest Lake as well as key characteristics, such as growth and survival rates and food habits. To capture trout for the population estimate, large-scale commercial netting equipment will be used, similar to that being used in Lake Pend Oreille. From March through May, deep-water trap nets and short-duration set gillnets will be used to capture, measure and mark lake trout with an individually numbered tag. Though a small number of fish will be sacrificed for age and stomach analysis, as many marked fish as possible will be released back to the lake unharmed.

The research project is the beginning of an effort to develop a more complete understanding of the Priest Lake fishery - to include zooplankton, kokanee, Mysis shrimp and lake trout. Ultimately, the information will be used to help develop a long-term management plan for Priest Lake.

Historically, Priest and Upper Priest lakes both provided popular sport fisheries for native cutthroat and bull trout. Kokanee were introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. They not only provided an abundant food source for bull trout, they rapidly became the most popular sport fish, supporting a harvest of 50,000 to100,000 fish and 15,000 angler days every year.

Plenty of Time to Enter Super Hunt Drawing

It's not too early to enter the first Super Hunt drawing; the deadline is May 31.

With every entry in Fish and Game's Super Hunt drawings, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands.

The first drawing in June will pick 26 lucky hunters, each of whom will win one of 25 tags - eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; and one "Super Hunt Combo" entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn and moose.

The second drawing will be in August when another "Super Hunt Combo" and entries for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11.

Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose, including general hunts and controlled hunts, in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold.

Hunters who win any Super Hunt tag may still enter controlled hunts, except where other restrictions apply. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The first Super Hunt entry will cost $6. Each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $4 each. The Super Hunt Combo entries work the same way.

The first one costs $20, and each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $16.

Entries are available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, or they can be ordered on the Internet at, and on the phone at 800-554-8685.

There is no limit to the number of entries. Fill out the entry order forms and mail them to: Idaho Fish and Game License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

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.

Moose, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat Seasons Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, January 17, adopted seasons for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats for 2013 and 2014.

In response to moose population changes, primarily in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions, the commission approved seasons that overall decreased bull moose tags by 46 and increased antlerless tags by 11.

Moose populations are declining in part of Idaho as well as parts of the other lower 48 states in areas with and without wolves, including Minnesota, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and elsewhere, Fish and Game's state wildlife manager Jon Rachael told the commissioners.

In contrast, moose appear to be increasing in much of northeast U.S., Alberta, BC, Washington, and other parts of Montana. Suspected causes vary but include predation, harvest, and changes in habitat, disease and parasites, and climatic factors.

Fish and Game has only a little data on collared moose calf mortality and collared adult moose survival in Idaho.

Few changes were made to bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons.


  • Panhandle

    - overall add two bull tags and add five antlerless tags.

    • Hunt area 1 - reduced 10 bull tags.
    • Hunt area 2 - add 10 bull tags and five antlerless tags.
    • Hunt area 3 - add two bull tags for the late season.
  • Clearwater

    - overall reduce 51 bull tags, increase four antlerless tags

    • Close hunt areas 15, 16A, 17, 19, 20 - reduce 27 tags.
    • Combine areas 12-3 and 12-4, 14-1 and 14-2, 16-1 and 16-2 - reduce 12 tags.
    • Reduce tags in 10-4, 10-5, 10-6, 10A-1, 10A-2, 10A-5, 12-2, 12-5 and 12-6 - reduce 16 bull tags.
    • Increase tags in Hunt areas 8, 8A - add two bull tags and two antlerless tags in each hunt area.
  • Southwest

    - No change.

Commission Approves Fund Transfer for Wolf Control

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners Thursday, January 17, approved a staff recommendation to move $50,000 allocated to coyote control in eastern Idaho to wolf control within elk management zones that are performing below management objectives.

The animal damage control funds come from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Idaho annually appropriates $100,000 of these Fish and Game funds to the state Animal Damage Control Board for control of predatory animals and birds.

Idaho statute authorizes the Fish and Game Commission to direct how these funds are to be used.

Since 2005, the commission has directed $50,000 or more to be used for intensive coyote removal in conjunction with the Mule Deer Initiative in eastern Idaho. The commission has directed about $50,000 in addition to support U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services activities.

In July 2012, the commission directed funds go to coyote control in eastern Idaho. But coyote control money from the previous year was unused and carried forward. At the same time federal funding for wolf management has decreased.

Fish and Game recommended the money previously committed to coyote control be used to meet the ongoing need to manage wolves in Idaho to meet management and legal obligations.

Public's Help Sought in Elk Wasting Case

Idaho fish and Game is asking the public for information about two cow elk shot and left to waste off the Salmon River Road east of Riggins about January 9.

Responding to the initial report, Fish and Game conservation officer Chad Wippermann found the elk lying side by side. Neither had been field dressed.

Wippermann collected evidence at the scene, but he hopes to learn more about the case from an eyewitness or others who may know about the incident.

"I am very interested in visiting with anyone who has information regarding these elk," he said.

Citizens Against Poaching is offering a reward for information in the case, and callers may remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day. In addition, persons may also contact the Fish and Game McCall office at 208-634-8137.

Apply Now for Spring Controlled Hunts

The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts opens February 1 and runs to March 1.

The spring black bear controlled hunt application period opened January 15 and continues through February 15.

Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15 - some controlled hunts open later. Turkey youth hunts open April 8.

Leftover controlled hunt tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

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 The application fee is $6.25 per person for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents.

An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications.

A turkey controlled hunt permit costs $7.75.

Spring 2013 bear controlled hunt information is in the 2012 Big Game Seasons and Rules book. Spring turkey controlled hunt information is available in the 2012-2013 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules book. Both are available at all license vendors and at Fish and Game offices.

Hunters must have a 2013 Idaho hunting license to apply.

How to Feed Wild Birds

With serious winter weather blanketing the state, many Idahoans have begun feeding wild birds.

Feeding wild birds is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S.

Feeding birds provides an enchanting opportunity to enjoy wildlife in your own yard, and Idaho Fish and Game encourages bird enthusiasts to keep a few things in mind to help assure successful bird feeding.

The location of the feeder and the food offered are important for attracting birds. To attract a variety of birds, use a variety of feeders and foods in several locations.

The following are additional suggestions for successful bird feeding:

  • Place feeders near trees or shrubs to protect feeding birds from weather and predators, such as free-roaming cats. Move feeders if you notice birds striking windows.
  • Birds can be particular about what and where they eat. Sparrows, juncos, and doves typically feed on the ground or on a flat platform, while other birds prefer an elevated feeder. Some ground-feeding birds prefer corn, milo, or millet, but sunflower seeds are also a popular food. Adding finch or thistle seed can attract pine siskins, goldfinches, and house finches. Insect-eating birds, such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches feed on suet or peanut butter mixtures.
  • If possible, provide water nearby. Specially designed heaters are available to prevent freezing. Once water and food are offered, try to continue through the winter, but don't be concerned if you miss a few days, since feeding birds are mobile and are probably visiting other feeding stations besides yours.
  • Keep feeders and feeding areas clean. Clean feeders regularly by scrubbing with soapy water, followed by a quick rinse in water diluted with a small amount of bleach. Store seed in tight, waterproof containers to prevent moldy conditions and to deter rodents.

Vehicle, Equipment Auction Set

A public auction of vehicles and other equipment used by Idaho Fish and Game is set for Wednesday, January 23, at Dealers Auto Auction, 3323 Port Street in Nampa.

The auction will start at 2 p.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

Ask Fish and Game: Stocking Fish

Q. When does Fish and Game start stocking fish, and how can I find out where they are being stocked?

A. Fish and Game stocks some waters all year round. Other waters are stocked at various times during the year. For a current stocking report contact the regional Fish and Game office, or go online to: Also check the regional fishing reports at: