Press Release

December 2013

Upland Game, Furbearer Open House Set in Southwest Region

Modifying the Unit 38 spring controlled wild turkey hunt and reducing the bobcat season statewide are just two proposals available for public comment at an upcoming upland game, furbearer season open house, hosted by Idaho Fish and Game.

Fish and Game staff members will host an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, January 2, at Fish and Game's Nampa office at 3101 S. Powerline Road. People may also provide comments via an online web-chat during the last hour, from 5 to 6 p.m., of the open house.

For information, call the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.

The entire package of upland game, turkey and furbearer proposals is available for review and comment on the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Comments may be submitted at the open house, via the website or during the online chat. The comment deadline is Friday, January 3.

One proposal calls for reducing the overall regional river otter quota from 30 to 20 and closing several sections of the Boise, Payette and Snake rivers to river otter trapping.

"Recent surveys of these areas show reduced otter populations, which lead to the proposal," wildlife manager Craig White said.

A second proposal would split the unit 38 spring controlled turkey hunt into two hunts.

"Turkey numbers in this unit have increased in recent years, leading to a number of depredation and nuisance complaints," White said. "By splitting the season and offering more tags, we can put provide additional turkey hunting opportunity and help address some of the nuisance issues that have arisen."

A questionnaire and a list of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 upland and furbearer proposals will be available at the open house.

Ask Fish and Game: Ice Fishing Rules

Q. Are there special rules for ice fishing?

A. Yes. Ice fishing rules are slightly different than general fishing for public safety and general crowding. Fishing is allowed only through a hole up to 10 inches in diameter. This reduces the risk of someone falling through holes. The only exception is on Bear Lake in Southeast Idaho where anglers can dip-net cisco through any size hole. There are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. All lines must be attended by the angler. The two-pole permit is not valid for ice fishing. Anglers also should check the 2013-2015 Fishing Seasons and Rules book for regional restrictions: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/rules/seasonsRules.pdf.

Looking Back at 2013 at Idaho Fish and Game

In November, Idaho Fish and Game launched a year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the 1938 voter initiative that created the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Posted on the Fish and Game website are stories, photos and videos that capture some of the significant and curious historical events that helped shape wildlife management in Idaho today.

Though it is several decades older, the modern Fish and Game department we know today was born on November 8, 1938, as a result of the state's first successful voter initiative, which passed in a landslide with a majority vote in every county. For more see: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/75th/.

New Commissioners

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

Brad Corkill, of Cataldo, replaced Tony Mc Dermott in the Panhandle Region, and Mark Doer of Kimberly replaced Joan Hurlock of the Magic Valley.

Corkill owns Whiteman Lumber Co. in Cataldo. He has a bachelor's degree in forest engineering, and he is an avid hunter and angler and former longtime school board member in Kellogg and St. Maries. He served as Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chairman from 2006 to 2010.

"I've been a lifelong hunter and fisherman, and I want to make sure my grandchildren have as good a quality of hunt as I do right now. That's my mission, and that's my goal," Corkill said.

Doerr has a bachelor's degree in aviation. He is a pilot and flight instructor and the owner of Precision Aviation Inc. in Twin Falls. He is active in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Idaho Aviation Association.

"I do not enter the position with an agenda but rather to continue what I see as the quality stewardship and management of the state's fish and game," Doerr said.

Both new commissioners are subject to state Senate confirmation.

Fish and Game Commission to Meet in Boise in January

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider Fish and Game's revised elk management plan when it meets January 15 and 16 at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise.

A public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. January 15, in the Trophy Room of the headquarters building at 600 S. Walnut St.

The Fish and Game Commission usually holds a public hearing in conjunction with each regular meeting. 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 season setting for upland game, furbearers and turkey; a big game briefing; appointment of Winter Feeding Advisory Committee members; JFAC budget preview.

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).

Comments Sought on Upland, Turkey, Furbearer Seasons

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 upland game, turkey and furbearer seasons.

Idaho Fish and Game proposes:

  • To allow nonresident trappers to trap any species that Idaho trappers can trap, provided the state of residence of the nonresident trapper allows nonresident trappers to trap any species their residents can trap.
  • To reduce the statewide bobcat trapping season length to prevent overharvest.

In the Panhandle Region:

  • To increase river otter quota to 40, from 30.

In the Clearwater Region:

  • To allow beaver trapping in the Cow Creek drainage and its tributaries in Nez Perce County in the Clearwater Region.
  • To clarify that corporate timber lands are not considered private lands for the purposes of Fall Turkey General Hunt in Units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18, which runs November 21 - December 31 and is open on private land only.

In the Southwest Region:

  • To extend the closure on river otter trapping on the Boise River to include from Caldwell to the confluence of the Snake River; extend the closure on the Payette River from Horseshoe Bend to the confluence of the Snake River; close the Snake River from Grandview to Farewell Bend; and to reduce the regional otter quota to 20 otters, from 30.

In the Magic Valley Region:

75th Celebration: Healthy Habitat, a New Year's Resolution

Every species in Idaho, whether big or small, predator or prey, needs the same thing - habitat.

Having large enough areas of the right kind of habitat is essential to maintaining healthy populations of wildlife in Idaho for the public to enjoy. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game uses various methods to improve habitat.

Wildlife Management Areas

Fish and Game owns about 204,000 acres in Idaho. Wildlife management areas play a critical role in the life-cycle of the species or suite of species for which they were purchased.

Some were purchased to provide critical winter range or migratory corridors for deer, elk, and antelope. Others are large wetlands complexes important for waterfowl and shorebirds. They are located in every region of the state, and many are in close proximity to Idaho's population centers. Each area has a habitat biologist, whose responsibility is maximizing benefits to wildlife and providing for enjoyment of the public.

Partnerships with Other Landowners

As you can imagine, it is difficult to manage wildlife populations when you only own 204,000 acres of the 53 million acres in Idaho. Since roughly 70 percent of the state is in public ownership and about 30 percent of the state is in private ownership, Fish and Game needs to work with both public land management agencies and private landowners.

Public land management agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Department of Lands, and projects include:

Ask Fish and Game: Ice Fishing

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

A. With the recent cold weather, many reservoirs are ice-covered, and some may have enough for ice fishing. But 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 anglers suggest carrying a knife or other sharp instrument on a lanyard around the neck. It would give a person who has fallen through something to grip in the ice to help pull themselves out, or at least a way to hang on 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.

Ice Fishing Offers Cure to Cabin Fever

By Phil Cooper - Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The 2012-2013 winter was a huge disappointment for ice anglers in the Idaho Panhandle.

Good ice was hard to find most of the winter, with only a few days suitable for ice fishing.

This year the ice formed before winter officially arrived. More than a week of single digit temperatures and nights that dipped into negative numbers (even on the Fahrenheit scale) will do that. A good number of anglers have already been fishing through the ice. Anglers were out on Cocolalla, Fernan, Hauser and a few other lakes last weekend.

Most waters in the Idaho Panhandle are open to ice fishing. Anyone interested in ice fishing should review the regulations carefully for special rules that apply only to ice fishing for safety purposes, as well as rules for bag limits or size restrictions on the waters in our area.

Once you know if the rules for the water you want to fish, the question most potential ice anglers are asking is, "How much ice is needed to safely support anglers?"

The safe load that ice will bear is not dependent entirely upon its thickness, but there are some reliable rules of thumb. A minimum of three inches of clear, blue ice (preferably four inches), will support a single angler, and five inches will hold several anglers in single file.

Thickness is not the only consideration. How the ice formed and weather following formation are important to assessing the integrity of ice. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice, so anglers should double the minimum thickness figures when encountering such conditions.

Any lake with moving water in it, whether from an inlet canal, springs, groundwater seepages or an outlet, should be regarded with skepticism. Water movement, no matter how slight, retards freezing and speeds thawing. This often results in hard to detect thin spots.

Comment on Upland Seasons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comments on the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 upland game, turkey and furbearer seasons.

Interested hunters are encouraged to attend one of the regional open house meetings:

Upper Snake Region: 208-525-7290

- Monday, December 23 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Upper Snake Region office, 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls.

Clearwater Region: 208-799-5010

- Monday, December 23 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clearwater Region office, 3316 16th St., Lewiston.

Southwest Region: Nampa - 208-465-8465

- Thursday, January 2 - 3 to 6 p.m. at the Southwest Region office, 3101 S. Powerline Road, Nampa.

Anyone unable to attend an open house may submit comments by mail to 2014-15 Upland Game, Turkey and Furbearer Proposals, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707, or by contacting regional wildlife managers.

To comment on proposals online, go to https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/webform/furbearer-proposals-2014-2015 or https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/webform/upland-game-and-turkey-pro....

The deadline for submitting comments is January 3.

All public comments will be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration before seasons are set at the January 16 commission meeting.

F&G Proposes Fee Increase and Discount Legislation

Idaho Fish and Game is proposing fee increase and discount authority legislation.

But under the proposed legislation, hunters and anglers would be able to lock in the price of their hunting and fishing license for the next three to five years.

Idaho Fish and Game is hoping hunters and anglers will like this idea, called a "fee lock." Agency officials think it will help raise needed revenue, and at the same time reduce the need for fee increases.

Idaho resident license fees are the same today as they were in 2005. At the same time, the cost of managing Idaho's wildlife has increased with higher costs of fish food, gas, and more.

Idaho Fish and Game doesn't want to raise license fees. Instead of calling for a traditional fee hike, Fish and Game is proposing a two-part plan that gives hunters and anglers the choice to lock in the price of a license against a possible fee increase, or not.

Here's how the two-part license fee lock concept could work:

Fish and Game will present two proposals to the legislature when it meets in January.

  • One seeks authority for the Fish and Game Commission to discount license and tag fees.
  • The second seeks to raise fees on most resident licenses, tags and fees between $1 and $6.

If both parts of the proposal become law, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission could create the fee lock. For Idahoans who consistently buy annual licenses,

the price of a license and tags would be the same as buying them in 2013.

Hunters and anglers who don't buy a license every year would pay the increased price of a license and tag fees.

The commission would review the fee lock in three to five years and decide whether it is working and whether it should continue.

75th Celebration: You Know Dasher and Dancer . . .

But do you recall Idaho's very own reindeer, the woodland caribou?

Caribou were once fairly common in northern Idaho. Trapping records from the 1880s indicate that caribou thrived in northern Idaho and could be found as far south as the Clearwater River. Their short, stocky bodies and hollow hair provided insulation against the winter cold. Long legs and large wide feet the size of pie plates helped the caribou move through the snow. Caribou feet act as snowshoes, helping the animals reach into the branches of trees to find tree lichens, their primary winter food. Caribou living in arctic regions use their large hooves to scoop away the snow to find lichens growing on the ground. In fact, the word caribou comes from the Mi'Kmaq Indian word that means "the one who paws."

While cold and snow did not affect Idaho's caribou, an expanding human population began to take its toll. By the 1950s, Idaho's caribou population had dropped to about 100 animals found only in the Selkirk Mountains of the Idaho Panhandle. In 1980, only 25 to 30 caribou were thought to remain in the state. Unregulated hunting and logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s, in conjunction with some large wildfires, are considered to be the major reasons for the caribou decline. In 1984, the woodland caribou was placed on the endangered species list. Plans for a recovery project in Idaho began. Between 1987 and 1990, 60 caribou from British Columbia were released into the Selkirk Mountains with a goal of establishing a second caribou herd.

Habitat changes over the past 100 years have continued to limit the success of the caribou reintroduction. A 2012 survey turned up only 27 animals in the Selkirks.

Egin-Hamer Area Closure Goes Into Effect January 1

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road sixteen years ago continues to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife.

Even though 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 on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring. The closure has been around for years, but officials from the Idaho Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, and Fremont County Sheriff unfortunately still make dozens of contacts related to closure violations.

For the 16th year, the Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of 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 colored.

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, are also exempt from the closure.