Press Release

January 2014

Middle Fork Salmon Wolf Control Action to End

Idaho Fish and Game is ending this year's agency action to reduce the wolf predation on elk in the Middle Fork Salmon area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Fish and Game has removed 9 wolves since the action began in December, with no wolves taken in the past two weeks.

Fish and Game's action is part of a larger strategy to help elk recovery in the backcountry. Elk cows and calves in the area have been vulnerable to predation, and the Middle Fork herd has declined significantly in recent years - down 43 percent since 2002. The number of elk calves surviving is too low to replace the adults dying each year, and the herd is continuing to decline. In addition to reducing wolf predation, Fish and Game offers extra tags for black bears and mountain lions - other predators affecting the Middle Fork elk population.

It will take a few days to complete the collection of equipment and transport of Fish and Game personnel out of the area.

This action generated strong responses from people with wide ranging values. "We remain committed to working with Idahoans to ensure that both wolves and healthy elk populations remain part of the wilderness," Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. "This action was an important step toward achieving our goal of stabilizing the Middle Fork elk population."

In early February, Fish and Game will post on its website a predation management plan that outlines all future efforts being considered to restore the Middle Fork elk population. The plan is consistent with the Fish and Game Commission policy on predation management, which is the basis for ongoing efforts in other backcountry areas.

75th Celebration: Critical Habitat - Wildlife Management Areas

Not all habitat is created equal.

Some ecosystems will support a wide variety of wildlife, while other habitats can only be used by a limited number of species. At the same time, some wildlife species require specific types of habitat to thrive and survive, such as Idaho's sage grouse which needs sagebrush.

In 1940, Idaho made its first investment in critical habitat when it purchased 423 acres south of Hagerman and established the first Wildlife Management Area. It provided wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl in a part of the Idaho that was losing its wetlands at an alarming rate.

Since then, Fish and Game has established 32 wildlife management areas around the state, and the Hagerman area has more than doubled in size to 912 acres since its purchase.

Of the 53 million acres in Idaho, only one third of one percent is in Fish and Game wildlife management areas, but they include a much larger percentage of the most important habitat for wildlife. Wetlands and big game winter ranges are two such types of critical habitat secured by the Department to benefit the people of Idaho for generations to come.

To learn more about Idaho's 75th Celebration and the history of Idaho's wildlife management areas, go online to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/75th/.

Upland, Turkey, Furbearer Seasons Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday, January 16 set the 2014 and 2015 upland game, turkey and furbearer seasons and rules.

The Commission delayed their decision on two trapping season proposals: changes to Idaho's reciprocal agreement with other states and the reduction of the statewide bobcat trapping season length. Commissioners requested additional information and time to review the public comments. The Commission will re-evaluate the information at their March meeting.

The commissioners approved changes to turkey, upland game and furbearer rules, including:

Panhandle Region:

  • Increased the river otter quota to 40, from 30.

Clearwater Region:

  • Changed beaver trapping closure and exception in Nez Perce County to include: All northern tributaries to the Salmon River downstream from but excluding Maloney Creek, and all tributaries to the Snake River to the Clearwater River, below the mouth of the Salmon River, excluding the Clearwater River drainage.
  • Clarified that corporate timber lands are not considered private lands for the purposes of Fall Turkey General Hunt (late season only) 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.

Southwest Region:

Director's Report to the Commission Online

Fish and Game's 2013 Director's Report to the Commission is now available online.

The annual report details the sources of the agency's funding, and what was accomplished with the money. The report leads with a statement from Director Virgil Moore, followed by future challenges, cost comparisons and big game harvest history.

It includes overviews of each bureau, highlights of its operations and the number of staff members in each. Also included are balance sheets of expenditures, expenditures by bureau, and numbers of licenses and tags sold.

Note: there is an error on page 52. 319 wolves were taken in 2012, not 422 as listed in the printed version. The correction has been made on the report, available online in PDF format at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/.

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: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/stocking/.

Mountain Lion Injures Dogs in Boise Foothills

Hikers, runners and mountain bikers are urged to use caution in an area of the Boise Foothills where two dogs were attacked by a mountain lion Monday afternoon.

The attack took place off of Bogus Basin Road, along the Corrals Trail, just west of the Corrals/Hard Guy Trail junction around 2:00pm Monday. A Boise man was riding his mountain bike with his two dogs trailing off leash behind him when he heard a yelp. The pet owner says he turned around to see a mountain lion spring from the brush and attack one of the dogs. The quick-thinking owner acted aggressively toward the cat, pelting it with rocks and yelling loudly in hopes of scaring the animal away. Rather than run, the cat attacked the second dog.

The man said he threw a larger rock, striking the lion in the head, stunning the animal. That gave the dog owner time to pick up one of his pets and ride down the trail to his vehicle where he found the second dog waiting for him. The man immediately called 911 dispatchers to report the attack. Both dogs suffered injuries but are expected to make a full recovery.

The mountain lion has not been found.

Fish and Game officers and Ada County Sheriff's deputies responded immediately, secured the attack location and collected evidence at the scene. "In years past, we've had lion attacks on domestic pets in the foothills and taken no action against the offending cat," Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. "But this situation is different. When the man approached the cat, it did not react normally; it stood its ground and did not run off as we would expect."

The mountain lion was described by the dog owner as "emaciated" which would suggest the cat may be having trouble hunting effectively. "Based on those issues, Fish and Game officers made the decision to remove the animal when it was located," Oneale said.

IDFG Publication A Great Learning Tool

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game publishes a newspaper for kids called Wildlife Express. Nine issues are produced each year, one per month from September through MayÉcoinciding with the academic calendar of most schools. It is geared toward upper elementary through middle school students.

Each issue features Idaho wildlife species and articles related to science and ecological concepts. The articles are written in an educational and entertaining fashion that get students excited to read and learn about wildlife and their environments.

Classroom subscriptions are available for $45.00 per year and include a classroom set of 30 copies mailed to a school each month. Subscriptions of 10 copies or less are available for $25.00. In addition to the subscription option, the Wildlife Express is available every month as a .pdf file on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website, fishandgame.idaho.gov.

With the purchase of a subscription, the classroom teacher receives the Educator's Express- a three ring notebook full of activities and lessons to teach language arts, math, and science that coordinate with each issue.

Educator's Express is intended to give educators ideas to help their students interpret, describe, explain and convey information gained while reading issues of Wildlife express.

Wildlife express issues usually feature a specific animal found in the wilds of Idaho. This month's issue features porcupines. While the writing is geared toward kids, the factual information contained in each issue is also fascinating and informative for adults. As an adult who has worked with wildlife for over 30 years, I still learn something from every issue.

Commission Approves Elk Management Plan

A new statewide elk management plan was unanimously approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their January 16 meeting in Boise.

In 2011, Fish and Game launched an effort to update the 12 year-old plan. Strategies were driven by public expectations and changes in elk populations.

Revisions were based largely on comments received on the draft plan, two surveys of Idaho elk hunters in the spring and summer of 2012, and in part on changes in habitat, predation and agricultural depredation conflicts.

The 2014 elk management plan is not designed to prescribe specific hunting seasons; rather it is designed to establish goals that Fish and Game staff - working with elk hunters, farmers and ranchers, other agencies, and other members of the public - will achieve over the next 10 years.

The new plan directs the Department to maintain or increase current elk populations across most of the state. Included in the plan is a list of factors that currently limit elk numbers and corresponding actions to reduce those limiting factors. Those factors are specific to each elk management zone and range from predation to habitat loss and human development.

The plan specifically seeks to improve elk habitat, partner with agriculture and hunters to better address the damage that growing elk population have on crops and fences, and more aggressively target predators such as bears, mountain lions and wolves.

Forecast Looks Good for Chinook Salmon Season

If the Chinook salmon returns for 2014 hold up to the early forecast, anglers could anticipate fisheries similar to those opened in 2008 and 2009. In those years, fisheries were opened in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon, Little Salmon, South Fork Salmon and upper Salmon rivers.

"The forecast suggests a return that's larger than last year," Idaho Fish and Game Anadromous Fish Manager Pete Hassemer told the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, January 16.

"The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the forecast for numbers of returning hatchery fish that anglers can harvest are similar to 2008 and 2009," he said.

Northwest fish managers estimate that more than 227,000 spring Chinook salmon bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year - last year the actual return was about 123,000.

Of those fish predicted at the Columbia River mouth, 83,000 hatchery fish and 42,000 wild fish are predicted to be headed for the Snake River. Last year's actual return to the Columbia River mouth was 45,400 hatchery and 21,900 wild fish destined for the Snake River.

Idaho fish managers estimate that 39,900 hatchery fish destined for Idaho's Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers will cross Lower Granite Dam.

Last year, only about 25,500 hatchery spring and summer Chinook salmon returned to the same Idaho waters.

It's too soon to tell just how many fish will actually show up, and what any fishing seasons might look like. Idaho fisheries managers expect to present proposed Chinook fishing seasons in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to the Fish and Game Commission in March.

In years past, Chinook seasons have opened in late April.

Shikar-Safari Recognizes American Falls Officer

Southeast Region conservation officer Brandon Chamberlin was recently awarded the 2013 Idaho Wildlife Officer of the Year by Shikar-Safari Club International.

Shikar-Safari International is a worldwide organization of hunters that supports a wide range of conservation causes with emphasis on wildlife law enforcement. The organization recognizes outstanding law enforcement officers in the United States and around the world.

"Brandon's tenacity, investigation skills and innovative approaches in detecting and apprehending wildlife violators have made him a great asset not only to the Southeast region but to the entire state as well," said Idaho Fish and Game Enforcement Chief Jon Heggen.

"Brandon understands the importance of continued development and improvement of intelligence gathering, covert operations and officer safety training. He has graciously accepted additional responsibilities in all of these areas. Although he regularly leads the region in licenses checked and violations detected, Brandon issues many warnings to unintentional violators as he understands the importance of education in the overall goal of protecting Idaho's wildlife."

Chamberlin was also recognized for his landowner and sportsmen relations, contributions to wildlife and fishery management and his leadership involving youth hunting and fishing educational activities.

Chamberlin has worked as senior conservation officer for Idaho Fish and Game since 2005, beginning his career in Soda Springs. He is currently based in American Falls.

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 significant money on the license itself. But tag fees for nonresidents would apply if you become a resident of another state or country.

Sportsmen Against Hunger Event to Benefit Idaho Food Bank

Sportsmen and sportswomen in southeast Idaho are joining forces to help with an important cause-fighting hunger.

The seventh annual Sportsmen Against Hunger event is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the CAL Ranch Store in Pocatello.

Those who attend the event can help raise money for the Idaho Food Bank by playing a hand or two of poker. One hand costs $10.00, and if you buy two hands, they'll throw in a third hand for free!

After "players" (age 18 and over) visit the various event booths set-up throughout the store by sportsmen's organizations, they are then eligible to draw cards for poker hands.

Those with winning hands will take home some great prizes including beautiful wildlife art donated by Ducks Unlimited, a Howa Sport King 308 with scope and a Camp Grill donated by CAL Ranch, a Bone Collector high carbon steel knife with bone handle donated by Pheasants Forever, and many other wonderful prizes.

Event booths will have information, displays, hands-on activities, raffles, and there will be some fun items and activities for kids as well, including Fish and Game's laser shot simulated hunting game.

Stop by and visit with folks from fantastic groups dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, including Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Pocatello Field Archers, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Southeast Idaho Fly Fishers, Mule Deer Foundation, and Western States Equipment.

Western States Equipment is also asking for folks to bring in canned goods to their booth as part of their annual Dump Hunger Campaign. Earlier this week, the Southeast Idaho Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation already helped get things started with their $500 donation to the Dump Hunger Campaign.