Press Release

February 2014

Wolf Control Action Completed in the Lolo Zone

Idaho Fish and Game, in cooperation with the USDA Wildlife Services, has completed another wolf control action in northern Idaho's Lolo elk zone near the Idaho/Montana border to improve poor elk survival in the area.

In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 23 wolves from a helicopter. The action is consistent with Idaho's predation management plan for the Lolo elk zone, where predation is the major reason elk population numbers are considerably below management objectives.

The Lolo predation management plan is posted on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/?getPage=325

This is the sixth agency control action taken in Lolo zone during the last four years. Twenty-five wolves were taken in the previous five actions.

Fish and Game authorizes control actions where wolves are causing conflicts with people or domestic animals, or are a significant factor in prey population declines. Such control actions are consistent with Idaho's 2002 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Legislature.

Fish and Game prefers to manage wolf populations using hunters and trappers and only authorizes control actions where harvest has been insufficient to meet management goals. The Lolo zone is steep, rugged country that is difficult to access, especially in winter.

In addition to the animals killed in this control action, 17 wolves have been taken by hunters and trappers in the Lolo zone during the 2013-14 season - 7 by hunting and 10 by trapping. The trapping season ends March 31, the hunting season ends June 30.

75th Celebration: A Safe Start - Educating Hunters

As darkness fell on a mid-October evening in eastern Idaho, a hunter saw movement below him in a small clearing. Thinking it was a deer, he fired. The 12-gauge slug hit another hunter in the chest. The hunter, who survived, was the victim of the most common cause of hunting accidents - mistaken for a game animal.

Incidents like this became a growing concern in the national hunting community in the 1940's. States and organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, began focusing on hunter safety education to address the problem of hunting accidents. In 1949, New York enacted the first mandatory hunter education program in the country.

In 1954, Idaho Fish and Game created a hunter safety training program, which was voluntary for sportsmen. In 1979, Idaho joined the ranks of states making hunter education mandatory for segments of its hunters, mostly young hunters just starting their lifelong outdoor adventures. The new law required that before buying a hunting license, anyone born on or after January 1, 1975, must attend and pass a course or show proof they have held a hunting license from another state.

To read more about Idaho's hunter education program and other 75th Anniversary Celebration stories, visit the Fish and Game website at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Chat Live with IDFG about Southwest Region Big Game Hunting Seasons

Hunters are invited to join an online chat with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and ask questions, give feedback, and learn more about proposed changes to the 2014 big game hunting seasons in the Southwest Region.

Hunters can chat live with wildlife biologists from the Nampa and McCall offices from noon to 1 p.m., and again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (MST) Wednesday, February 26. To participate, go online to Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Some proposed changes in the Southwest Region include:

  • Considering adjustments to Unit 39 deer and elk hunts.
  • Considering lengthening the black bear controlled hunt seasons in Weiser River Units.

In addition to the live chat, the proposed season changes for deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion and wolf hunts by region are available for public review and comment on the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=336.

Fish and Game Seeks Input on 2014 Big Game Seasons

Hunters are encouraged to attend one of several open house meetings around the state to visit with biologists about proposed changes to the 2014 big game seasons and rules.

Open house meetings scheduled include:

Panhandle Region: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. (PST)

  • February 27: Best Western, 506 W. Appleway Ave. Coeur d' Alene

Clearwater Region: 5 to 7 p.m. (PST)

  • February 25: IDFG Clearwater Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Drive, Orofino

Southwest Region McCall: 4 to 7 p.m. (MST)

  • February 25: IDFG Office, 555 Deinhard Lane, McCall

Southwest Region Nampa: 6 to 8 p.m. (MST)

  • February 28: Idaho Sportsman's Show, Expo Idaho Building, Idaho State Fair Grounds

Magic Valley Region: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (MST)

  • February 24: Community Campus, Rooms 301 and 302, 1050 Fox Acres Rd., Hailey
  • February 25: Burley Inn, Minidoka Room 2, 800 North Overland Ave, Burley
  • February 26: IDFG Magic Valley Region Office, 324 South 417 East, Jerome

Southeast Region: All meetings start at 6:30 pm (MST)

  • February 24: Senior Citizens Center, 26 North Main Street, Malad
  • February 25: Larsen-Sant Library, 109 South 1st East, Preston
  • February 26: Senior Center, 60 South Main Street, Soda Springs
  • February 27: Bear Lake Senior Center, 115 South 4th Street, Montpelier

Upper Snake Region: All meetings start at 7 p.m. (MST)

Angler Comments Sought on 2014 Idaho Chinook Season

Salmon anglers are encouraged to provide their comments concerning proposals to the upcoming salmon season by attending any of five Idaho Department of Fish and Game public meetings.

Regional fishery personnel will provide an overview of prior seasons, especially the 2013 season, review factors related to 2014 projected Chinook returns, explain fishery constraints that Fish and Game operates within and discuss strategies on how to best manage the sport fishery.

Also presented will be new information biologists are learning about the salmon fisheries in the Clearwater River Basin and what is being done to improve salmon returns. An update on access along the Little Salmon River will also be discussed.

All opinions and suggestions regarding these issues are welcome. Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the following locations:

Southwest Region:

  • Riggins: Tuesday, February 25, Salmon Rapids Lodge, 1010 S Main Street.
  • Boise: Wednesday, February 26, Fish and Game's MK Nature Center auditorium, 600 S. Walnut Street.
  • McCall: Thursday, February 27, McCall Fish and Game office, 555 Deinhard Lane.

Those unable to attend a meeting can provide their comments by contacting regional fishery personnel at 208-634-8137 or by sending their information in writing to 2014 Salmon Seasons, 555 Deinhard Lane, McCall, ID 83638 or email dale.allen@idfg.idaho.gov.

Clearwater Region:

F&G Commission to Meet in Boise in March

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider proposed big game seasons for 2014 during a meeting March 19 and 20 in Boise.

The meeting starts with a public hearing at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 19 at the Washington Group Plaza at 720 East Park Blvd.

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 meeting.

On March 20, the meeting will be held at Fish and Game's Headquarters office at 600 S. Walnut. 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.

A complete agenda will be available on the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/?getPage=184, by Wednesday, March 5.

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).

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 1. Subsequent planting efforts will be conducted on March 8, 15, 22 and 29. 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 on the agency's website 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.

Ask Fish and Game: Black Bear Baiting Permits

Q. I plan to hunt black bear this spring with some friends and was wondering when the baiting permits go on sale and if each of us needs to purchase a permit?

A. Bear bait permits are only available at Fish and Game offices beginning March 1 each year. However, since March 1 is a Saturday and Fish and Game offices will be closed, the first day the permits can actually be purchased is March 3. Only the person that places the bait is required to have a baiting permit. Each hunter can have 1 baiting permit, which allows them to maintain up to three bait sites. People hunting over bait sites, but not involved in placing the bait do not need a permit.

Panhandle Elk Research Work to Resume February 28

In mid-January, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and a private contractor began work on an elk research project in the Idaho Panhandle. On January 14-15th, 22 cow elk were fitted with radio collars in the Cataldo area (north and south of I-90) and in the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River.

The project design calls for a total of 45 elk to be collared in the study so that IDFG can monitor survival rates, habitat use, and seasonal movements. If weather is suitable for flying, additional elk will be collared on February 28 and March 1.

Cow elk are being captured with either nets or tranquilizer darts depending upon the terrain and density of the forest canopy. Once an elk is restrained or under anesthesia, a handler fits the animal with a GPS collar. Blood and fecal samples are taken for disease and pregnancy surveillance. An estimate of each animal's age is made by a tooth examination and a measure of body condition is taken. The elk is then released at the capture site and the search for another elk begins.

The GPS collars record the animal's location once per day. The location, time, and other pertinent data are transmitted to a satellite, and the locations are sent by email weekly to IDFG biologists. Collars are functional for several years.

Prior to the development of GPS collars, IDFG had to use an antenna in hand or on a plane to fix a location. Most locations were usually midday, during nice (good flying) weather. Now, locations are taken regardless of weather, giving a much better picture of habitat use.

March Sportsperson Breakfast Scheduled in Lewiston

Anyone interested in local wildlife management issues is welcome to attend the March sportsperson breakfast on Tuesday, March 4 at the regional fish and game office, 3316 16th St. in Lewiston.

Beginning at 6:30 am, the breakfast meeting will include presentations on big game season setting, fisheries updates, Chinook salmon season forecast and other legislative updates.

These meetings are designed to stimulate informal discussion among wildlife enthusiasts. Coffee, donuts and juice will be served free of charge on a first come-first serve basis. Contact the regional office at (208) 799-5010 for more information.

Upper Snake Region Of Idaho Fish and Game Sets Big Game Scoring Day

A Big Game scoring day has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 26th at the Fish & Game regional office in Idaho Falls. Measuring will be done according to Boone & Crockett standards.

Interested sportsmen must bring their antlers, horns or skulls to the Fish & Game's Idaho Falls office on Tuesday, February 25 no later than 5:00 pm in order for them to be scored. The office is located at 4279 Commerce Circle, Idaho Falls.

Items brought in for measuring must be free of flesh and must have air-dried for a minimum of 60 days. Please note that air-drying is not the same as freezer storage.

Information required at the time of drop-off includes:

  • Hunter or owners name.
  • Date of harvest.
  • Location of harvest, including big game unit, county and state.
  • Address and telephone number.
  • Guides name and address if applicable.

This service is free, so even if you don't think an item will qualify for the record book, but are just curious as to what it will score, bring it anyway.

All items must be picked up between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm on Friday February 28th.

For more information, contact the Idaho Falls Fish & Game office at 208-525-7290.

Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Meeting Scheduled

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has scheduled an informational "State of the Lake" public meeting to discuss the status of fish populations in Lake Pend Oreille and the progress of the fishery recovery effort.

The meeting is open to anyone with an interest in the lake. Following the presentations, there will be a question and answer session as well as time for informal discussion after the meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening, February 19 from 6:00 to 8:30 PM at the Ponderay Events Center by the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint.

Presentations will summarize the results of the 2013 predator removal efforts, status of kokanee, Mysis shrimp, and bull trout populations, and the results of recent lake level research. In addition, biologists will discuss upcoming research and management activities for 2014.

For more information, contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208) 769-1414. Individuals with disabilities may request meeting accommodations by contacting Jim Fredericks at the number above; or, through the Idaho Relay Service at 1 800 377 2529 (TDD).