Press Release

February 2013

Open House on 2013 Big Game Seasons set in Panhandle

Idaho Fish and Game will be host an open house to discuss big game hunting seasons on from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Best Western Plus in Coeur d'Alene.

The Best Western Plus was formerly known as the Coeur d'Alene Inn, and is located on the corner of Highway 95 and Appleway just north of Interstate 90.

Anyone interested in big game seasons is encouraged to come at any time during the open house.

Fish and Game employees will be there to discuss big game seasons and answer questions. Questionnaires will be provided for attendees to complete.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set final big game hunting season rules at their quarterly meeting in Boise on Tuesday, March 18. Questionnaires completed at meeting and online throughout the state will be provided to the Commissioners prior to setting seasons. In addition, a public meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 17, during which anyone can directly address the commission in person.

Season proposals are posted on the Fish and Game website here individuals may comment as well. The website provides an opportunity for people to review the proposals and provide comments without having to travel to a meeting. Depending upon the year and the proposed changes, as many as 500 comments are received from the Panhandle Region alone on the website.

Additionally, 650 people who have attended a big game season public meeting in the Panhandle over the past several years will receive an email containing season summaries and asking for comments.

Wildlife Summit Regional Workgroup Meeting Set

Idaho Fish and Game's southeast regional office has scheduled the first meeting of the Wildlife Summit Regional Workgroup for Wednesday, March 6.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Idaho Fish and Game office at 1345 Barton Rd., Pocatello.

Wildlife Summit Regional Workgroups will be convening all over the state in the next couple of months for the purpose of continuing the conversation that was started last August during the statewide Wildlife Summit. And it will be the task of the workgroups to address those wildlife conservation and management challenges that were identified during the Wildlife Summit.

The first of many challenges to be addressed at the first Regional Workgroup meeting will be identifying strategies to boost funding for the Wildlife Diversity Program.

The role of the Wildlife Diversity program is to work with Idaho residents and conservation partners to maintain natural, self-sustaining populations of native "nongame" wildlife species to benefit Idaho residents and our visitors.

The Wildlife Diversity Program receives no funding from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses. It operates on a budget funded through the sale of wildlife license plates, voluntary state tax check-offs, and other donations. This income is then used to leverage matching federal funds through state wildlife grants and challenge cost shares.

Fish and Game and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission are eager to build on the momentum of the Wildlife Summit with the meeting of the regional workgroups. Just as with the Wildlife Summit, the Idaho regional workgroup participants will represent a diversity of wildlife interests and viewpoints and will work to prioritize action items they feel will best help meet the public's needs, desires, and expectations for wildlife management in Idaho.

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.

Public's Help Sought in Swan Poaching Case

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding the poaching of a trumpeter swan near the Boise River just west of Star.

The swan was probably shot Friday evening, February 22.

At more than 20 pounds and with a wingspan of 8 feet, the trumpeter swan is the largest waterfowl in North America and the largest swan in the world. There is no hunting season on trumpeter swans in Idaho.

Responding to the initial report, Fish and Game district conservation officer Matt O'Connell found the poached swan at the edge of a pond near Bent Lane.

Evidence was collected at the scene, and O'Connell was able to interview witnesses, but he hopes to learn more about the case from others who have knowledge of the poaching incident.

"I am very interested in visiting with anyone who has information regarding this poached swan," O'Connell said.

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in the case. Callers may remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 24 hours a day.

In addition to the CAP hotline, anyone with information may also contact the local Fish and Game office at 208-465-8465.

Live Chat on Southwest Big Game Seasons

Idaho Fish and Game plans to host a live online chat about 2013 big game season changes in the Southwest Region.

Hunters can chat live with Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologists from noon to 2 p.m. (MST) Tuesday, March 5. Wildlife managers will be available to answer questions and take comments.

To participate, go online to the link on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Some proposal highlights in the Southwest Region include:

  • Mule Deer - Reducing antlerless hunting opportunity in Unit 39. A second proposal calls for reducing antlerless hunting opportunity in units 22, 31, 32 and 32A.
  • Elk - Reducing antlerless hunting opportunity in Unit 39, while a second proposal calls for increasing antlered hunting opportunity in Unit 41.
  • Pronghorn - A controlled youth-only archery hunt in Unit 39 with a maximum of five tags available.
  • Wolves - A wolf trapping season on private land only in Unit 22.

In addition to the live chat, Fish and Game is hosting public open house meetings in all the regions of the state.

Comments Sought on Big Game Seasons

Idaho Fish and Game plans several public meetings around the state to discuss 2013 big game seasons and fishing seasons and rules.

Panhandle Region. Open house meeting from 4 to 8 p.m.

  • March 7: Coeur d'Alene Inn, Best Western Plus, Appleway at U.S. Hwy 95, Coeur d'Alene.

Clearwater Region. Four open house meetings from 5 to 7 p.m.

  • February 26: Senior Citizens Center, Grangeville.
  • February 27: Latah County Fairground Exhibit Building, Moscow.
  • March 5: Fish and Game regional office, Lewiston.
  • March 6: Fish and Game Clearwater Hatchery, Ahsahka, Orofino.

Southwest Region.

  • March 6: Open house 4 to 7 p.m., Weiser High School Library 690 W. Indianhead Road, Weiser.
  • March 7: Open house 4 to 7 p.m., Fish and Game office, 555 Deinhard Lane, McCall.

Magic Valley Region. Public meetings 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

  • March 4: Community Campus, Hailey.
  • March 5: Burley Best Western, Burley.
  • March 6: Fish and Game office, Jerome.

Southeast Region. Open house meetings starting at 6:30 p.m.

  • February 25: Fish and Game office, Hunter Ed Room, 1345 Barton Rd., Pocatello.
  • February 26: Senior Citizens Center, 26 North Main St., Malad City.
  • February 27: Soda Springs Senior Center, 60 South Main St., Soda Springs.
  • February 28: Bear Lake Senior Center, 115 South 4th St., Montpelier.
  • March 4: Larsen-Sant Library, 109 South 1st East, Preston.

Upper Snake Region. Public meetings start at 7 p.m.

Commission to Meet in Boise in March

Next month, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set seasons for this fall's deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, gray wolf and mountain lion hunts.

The commission will meet March 18 and 19 in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game headquarters, 600 S. Walnut St., Boise.

A public hearing begins at 7 p.m. March 18. 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 a legislative update; season setting for deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, mountain lion and wolves; briefing on rules for game animals; and season setting for Chinook salmon.

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

Priest Lake Fishery Management Discussion

Idaho Fish and Game will host a meeting in Priest River on February 28 to share information and answer questions about the future management of the fishery in Priest Lake.

The meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Priest River Senior Center, at 339 W Jackson.

In November, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the 2013-2018 State Fisheries Management Plan. In addition to setting statewide policy direction for the fisheries program, the plan discusses management direction of regional waters, including Priest Lake.

Priest Lake recently has been the subject of lively discussion within the angling community. Lake trout, or mackinaw, have dominated the Priest Lake fishery since they overpopulated the lake in the 1980s, effectively collapsing the kokanee and bull trout populations. Though the lake trout fishery is popular with many anglers, many others have advocated restoration of a kokanee, bull trout and cutthroat fishery through a large-scale lake trout suppression effort similar to that on Pend Oreille.

When Fish and Game solicited public comments on issue in a series of public meetings and through a random mail survey, angler opinions were divided almost right down the middle.

Jim Fredericks, regional fishery manager, recognizes it's a difficult issue. On one hand, because the lake trout are prolific, the fishery costs very little to manage and provides a unique opportunity for anglers in the area. The flip side is that lake trout tend to dominate systems at the expense of other species.

In terms of recreation and economics, lake trout don't attract as many anglers as other fish. According to Fredericks, angler participation was two to three times greater back in the 1950s, when it was based on kokanee, cutthroat and bull trout, than it is today, despite much easier access and the increase in the human population in the past 50 years.

Big Game Open Houses Slated in Southwest Region

Though months away, the 2013 big game hunting season is the subject of a series of open houses hosted by Idaho Fish and Game.

Other public input opportunities are also available.

Plan now to attend and provide input that will help shape this fall's hunting seasons in Idaho's Southwest region. To learn more about the meetings, contact Fish and Game's McCall office at 634-8137 or Nampa office at 465-8465.

The 2013 big game hunt proposals will be posted when available for review and comment on the Fish and Game website. Comment letters and phone calls to Fish and Game regional offices are also welcome. The comment period ends March 8.

For those unable to attend an open house or comment via the website, other opportunities are available. Comment sheets will be available at the upcoming Sportsman's Show February 28 through March 3 at the Expo Idaho building in Garden City. Fish and Game staff will also be holding an online "web chat" session regarding southwest Idaho 2013 big game season proposals on March 5. Watch the Fish and Game website for more details regarding this event.

A complete list of statewide deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear and mountain lion hunt proposals will also be available at each upcoming open house, with Fish and Game staff available to discuss all proposals.

Plan to attend the open house in your area:

  • Nampa - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, February 22, Fish and Game office, 3101 S. Powerline Road.
  • Weiser - 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, Weiser High School Library690 W. Indianhead Road.
  • McCall - 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, Fish and Game office, 555 Deinhard Lane.

Some proposal highlights include:

Hauser Lake Ice Fishing Event Canceled

Even the best laid plans . . . sometimes must be changed.

Thin ice has caused the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to cancel an ice fishing event planned for Saturday, February 23 at Hauser Lake.

Located in Idaho almost within a long fishing cast of Washington; Hauser Lake is a popular fishery for yellow perch, bluegills, crappie and other species.

The lake normally produces excellent fishing in both the summer and winter. This winter, however, has not been kind to northern Idaho ice fishing anglers. There were only about three weeks of good, solid ice present on Hauser and some of the other lowland lakes. The lack of solid ice made for a disappointing ice fishing season.

An inspection of Hauser Lake by Fish and Game Conservation Officer Rick Bogar on the morning of February 19 showed only two anglers on the entire 550 acre lake. They were fishing on the north side of the lake, precariously near open water.

"While two individual anglers may be able to get on and off the ice successfully, Fish and Game cannot sponsor an ice fishing event that could attract several hundred people when the ice is thin," said Phil Cooper of Fish and Game.

Fish and Game estimated more than 550 people attended the same event last year, with over 130 arriving before the scheduled start time.

"The turnout indicated there is a high level of interest in ice fishing," Cooper said, "and we were happy to provide instruction and to loan out ice fishing gear. It is disappointing it cannot be repeated this winter."

With no extreme cold weather in the near forecast, the event cannot be held next Saturday. Fish and Game plans to hold the event next February if weather conditions permit.

Volunteers Sought for Habitat Restoration Project

Wildlife habitat in the Magic Valley is getting a helping hand, and you can be part of that effort.

Idaho Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management invite volunteers to join them in planting bitterbrush, sagebrush and willows at a recently burned sites this spring.

This year's efforts will focus on the Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management area, which burned in last summer's Cave Canyon fire, as well as a site near King Hill, which burned in the Blair Trail Fire of 2011. The project is part of the Volunteers for Habitat Restoration program, a cooperative effort to improve upland and riparian wildlife habitat in Southern Idaho.

According to regional wildlife habitat manager Mark Fleming, bitterbrush is a preferred food source where it occurs on mule deer winter range.

"These fires severely impacted habitat for wintering mule deer and other species in our region," Fleming said. "By planting seedlings, we'll help to

jump-start the recovery of this area. Even with intervention, it could take a generation before we see desert shrubs begin to thrive again."

Sagebrush seedlings are a key component of habitat for the greater sage-grouse, a species of concern in Idaho. Willows are important for a variety of game and non-game species alike.

"We feel that volunteers are a key component in their efforts to preserve fish and wildlife for future generations. When a person works on the landscape, they've made an investment in that landscape and people tend to protect their investment," said Ed Papenberg, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator. "We're planting seedlings, but we're also building a community which values its natural resources. Besides, it's just plain fun, you get to spend time in open country and meet people."

Volunteers Needed to Plant for Wildlife

Idaho Fish and Game is looking for volunteers to plant thousands of sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings during March at a number of locations across southern Idaho.

Volunteer planting projects begin on Saturday, March 2. Subsequent planting efforts will be conducted on March 9, 16, 23 and 30. Transportation and planting tools will be provided.

For more information regarding the planting project or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Fish and Game, contact volunteer coordinator Michael Young at 208-327-7095 or michael.young@idfg.idaho.gov. Volunteer information is also available online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/volunteer/.

Volunteers have planted nearly three quarters of a million bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings during the past 23 years to restore native bitterbrush and sagebrush habitats in Southwest Idaho. In addition to saving the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars, volunteers have restored hundreds of acres of winter range.

Bitterbrush and sagebrush - both native shrubs - comprise an important component of big game winter ranges in Idaho and throughout the west. Besides providing essential food sources for deer, elk and other wildlife, bitterbrush and sagebrush provide cover from the elements and from predators, while also providing nesting habitat for birds and small mammals.

Even large animals, such as deer and elk, find shelter among mature stands of bitterbrush and sagebrush during winter storms. Shrubs provide protection from wind and snow, allowing the animals to conserve precious body fat which they need to survive the lean winter months.

Because of their deep-rooted structure, native shrubs also provide soil stabilization, reducing erosion.