Press Release

March 2014

April Fool - The Joke's on Us

When Idaho voters created the Fish and Game Commission on November 8, 1938, to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage ALL of Idaho's wildlife...we aren't sure if they had monsters in mind!

No one is certain when the first sighting of the sea monster eventually known as "Sharlie" occurred at Payette Lake, some say 1917 others, 1920. However, McCall's aquatic beast became a national, then international story in August of 1944. That summer, several people reported seeing the serpent-like creature writhing off shore and displaying a series of three humps.

Coincidentally, one of those first six witnesses was Boise attorney Homer Martin, the lawyer who drafted the 1938 initiative that created the Idaho Fish & Game Commission. But as the summer wore on, several more sightings were reported by local residents, vacationing soldiers and workers at the area lumber mill.

This landed tiny McCall, Idaho in TIME magazine's August 21, 1944 issue. The cover shows a scowling Nazi Field Marshal von Rundstedt following his army's defeat in Normandy. Inside is a column titled Slimy Slim, about "an enormous sea serpent glubbing about in Idaho's Payette Lake". Another article appeared in the Mediterranean edition of the U.S. Army's newspaper for the troops, The Stars and Stripes on August 25th, 1944Éand the Idaho sea monster became an international celebrity.

For more information on "Sharlie" the monster of Payette Lake go to Fish and Game's website at this link: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/75th/.

Moose, Sheep and Goat Controlled Hunt Applications Due

The application period for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts opens this week. Applications for these hunts will be accepted April 1 through April 30.

Only one mountain goat tag will be offered in Hunt Area 39 this year, resulting from fires in Unit 39 two years ago. Because of those fires, managers were forced to close the hunt in 2012, leaving four tag-holders with rain checks. Three of those hunters have elected to participate in the hunt in the 2014 season. Hunt Area 39 is a small geographic area with limited access points, and limited goat population. The Fish and Game Commission agreed having more than 4 hunters with mountain goat tags could cause crowding for the once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

Anyone interested in applying for controlled hunts can apply at Fish and Game offices or license vendors or with a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685; Internet users may apply through Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ .

Each applicant must possess a valid 2014 Idaho hunting or combination license to apply for a controlled hunt. License fees will not be refunded. Moose, goat and sheep hunt applicants must pay the tag fee along with a non-refundable application fee. Tag fees will be refunded to those who do not draw. The resident application, including application fee, costs $173; nonresidents pay $2,116.50. Unsuccessful resident applicants will receive a refund of $166.75; unsuccessful nonresident applicants will receive a refund of $2,101.75.

Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30. Harvest statistics for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats are available online at: 3http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/stats.aspx

Fish and Game Stocking Urban Fisheries

Spring has arrived, and many Idahoans are dusting off their fishing gear and digging in the garden for worms.

Fish and Game hatchery workers are also thinking about early spring fishing; putting together their stocking plan for April. Fish managers from the Nampa hatchery will release more than 40,000 nine to eleven inch rainbow trout into fisheries in and around the Treasure Valley. Of those, 19,000 will be released into Lucky Peak Reservoir. Hatchery workers will release 4,000 into Mann's Creek reservoir, and more than 3,600 trout will be released into the Boise River at various locations. The remainder of the catchable rainbow trout will be distributed among twenty-five locations throughout Southwest Idaho.

The Nampa Hatchery is one of six that will be trucking fish to rivers, lakes and ponds in Idaho. Hatchery workers will also be putting catchable rainbows into waterways in the Panhandle, Clearwater, Magic Valley and Southeast Regions. In all, more than 200,000 trout will be stocked in April statewide. For specific information about stocking near you, check out this link on Fish and Game's website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=232

Fishing Trailer Schedule for April

April will be a busy month for Fish and Game's fishing trailer, with nearly a dozen fishing events scheduled around the Treasure Valley and beyond.

To learn more about the trailer, contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 465-8465. A complete fishing trailer schedule is available at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.

A fishing license is not needed by any participant who registers at the trailer for the duration of the event, regardless of age or residency. "Everyone is welcome at these events, but we want to make a point of inviting kids and their parents who have an interest in fishing but lack the equipment and perhaps the knowledge to get started," regional conservation educator Evin Oneale noted. "The only cost is a bit of time, and the idea is to help people gain enough fishing experience and confidence to strike out on their own and enjoy fishing as a fun, family activity."

Southwest Region Fishing Trailer Schedule for April

Saturday, April 5 - Wilson Ponds (Nampa) - 10:00am-2:00pm

Wednesday, April 9 - Parkcenter Pond (Boise) - 4:00pm-8:00pm

Thursday, April 10 - McDevitt Pond (Boise) - 4:00pm-8:00pm

Saturday, April 12 - Kleiner Pond (Meridian) - 10:00am-2:00pm

Wednesday, April 16 - Settlers Pond (Meridian) - 4:00pm-8:00pm

Thursday, April 17 - Sego Prairie Pond (Kuna) - 4:00pm-8:00pm

Saturday, April 19 - Wilson Ponds (Nampa) - 10:00am-2:00pm (Unplugged Event)

Wednesday, April 23 - McDevitt Pond (Boise) - 4:00pm-8:00pm (Unplugged Event)

Thursday, April 24 - Kleiner Pond (Meridian) - 4:00pm-8:00pm (Unplugged Event)

Saturday, April 26 - Ed's Pond (Emmett) - 11:00am-3:00pm (Youth Appreciation Day)

Wednesday, April 30 - Williams Pond (Boise) - 4:00pm-8:00pm

More Sturgeon Headed to Snake River

This week, Fishery managers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game working with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and Idaho Power will be stocking sturgeon in the Snake River to augment angling opportunities below C.J. Strike Dam and Swan Falls Dam.

The 10 to 20 inch sturgeon are offspring spawned and raised at the College of Southern Idaho as part of their aquaculture teaching program. Wild adult sturgeon are collected by Idaho Power Company from the Snake River in areas where there is poor spawning success. Eggs are collected via a caesarean method and spawned adult sturgeon are then returned to the Snake River. The program has enhanced sturgeon fisheries from below Swan Falls Dam all the way up the Snake River to Idaho Falls.

One hundred 1-year old sturgeon will be released below C.J. Strike Dam, and three hundred will be released below Swan Falls Dam.

In both reaches, the white sturgeon population has dropped, mostly due to poor water quality, infrequent high spring flows, disrupted temperature regimes and lack of access to quality spawning areas. By planting sturgeon raised at CSI, Fish and Game hopes to maintain a strong enough population to allow anglers to continue participating in the catch-and-release fishery.

For more information on fishing for white sturgeon in Idaho check out this link on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/sturgeonFishingTips.pdf

Ask Fish and Game - Ten, Eleven Year Olds Hunting

Q: Since the legislature passed a law saying ten and eleven year olds can hunt big game in Idaho, can they apply for a controlled hunt tag in the upcoming draw for goats, sheep and moose?

A: Not yet. The new law lowering the legal age for hunting big game in Idaho does not take effect until July 1, 2014. Ten and eleven year olds will be eligible to purchase big game tags available only after that date.

Southern Portion of Egin-Hamer Closure Area to Open April 1

Even though the winter appeared mild down on desert near St. Anthony, it is still lingering up in the highlands and natural resource managers at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) are working to ensure that wintering big games herds remain protected as long as possible and urge outdoor recreationalists to honor existing closure dates as they relate to the Egin-Hamer closure and St. Anthony Sand Dunes.

That portion of the Egin-Hamer Closure Area that is south of the Egin-Hamer Road will open on schedule at sunrise on April 1st. The area north of the road surrounding the dunes remains closed until sunrise on May 1st. Maps of the closure are available at the regional IDFG and BLM Offices in Idaho Falls. The closure is patrolled not only by law enforcement officers from BLM and IDFG, but also the Fremont County Sheriff_s Department.

Department staff are allowed as part of their administrative duties to enter the closure to carry out enforcement activities. Survey crews under the direction of the BLM may also be observed entering the closure.

Both agencies are gearing up to have personnel on the ground for both the April and May openings. The goal of the agency staff will mainly be to educate the public about the closure, but enforcement officers will be available to write citations for flagrant violators who harass animals or destroy habitat.

Dry Bed Salvage Season Starts April 1

The start of April marks the beginning of a potentially unique angling experience in Eastern Idaho. While the season is set by the Idaho Fish & Game Commission, control of the actual flows is done by the Great Feeder Canal Company. This means that flows may vary greatly and not correspond directly to regulation dates.

The Dry Bed, which is also called the Big Feeder or Great Feeder Canal, is a historic side channel of the South Fork of the Snake River. Early settlers to the area built headgates and diversion structures on the waterway, but biologically it has continued to function as an aquatic habitat capable of supporting fish populations. Fishing is allowed year round, but each year when routine maintenance work is required on the headgates, certain standing exceptions in IDFG Fishing Regulations come into play. These special rules were created because a stretch of the canal is de-watered due to the repairs and fish are stranded in deep pools or large puddles as water levels drop.

IDFG Regulations for the Dry Bed include the exception that from 4/1- 4/30 it is legal to also take fish using hands, dip nets or snagging. Use of seine nets, chemicals, firearms, explosives, or electric current remains prohibited. The stretch of the Dry Bed covered by these special exceptions runs from Highway 48 (Between Lewisville and Menan, near the Idahoan Fresh Pack Plant) upstream to Great Feeder Irrigation Diversion headgate northeast of Ririe. It's important to note that most access to the canal is across private ground, so it's important to get permission ahead of time.

All regular bag and possession limits remain in effect. The daily limit is six trout (including cutthroat) any size and 25 mountain whitefish. Any fish caught must be killed immediately, transport of any live fish in Idaho is illegal without a permit.

Citizen Involvement Leads to Poaching Convictions

A Washington County poaching spree during the fall of 2012 that left more than a dozen deer and three domestic cows dead has come to light, and the four defendants convicted of the poaching crimes must now pay more than $24,000 in fines and penalties.

A Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) call started it all.

In September of 2012, Fish and Game conservation officer Mark Sands received a CAP call with a vague reference to the poaching of a mule deer buck. The caller's description led Sands to a location off of Rock Creek Road northwest of Weiser, where he found a 3 x 4 mule deer buck shot and left to waste. A passing bird hunter tipped Sands off to another possible poached deer in the same general area. Following up on this information, Sands found a second mule deer buck, its skull cap removed, and the carcass left to waste. After scanning the carcass with a metal detector, Sands located and removed a bullet, then back traced the bullet's trajectory to the nearby road. After a brief search, he discovered a rifle shell casing on the side of the road that matched the bullet discovered earlier.

In the ensuing weeks, several other deer and three domestic cows were found shot and wasted along Rock Creek Road. No suspects were identified.

In January of 2013, Sands received an anonymous tip naming a local Weiser resident as the shooter and implicating several other Meridian, Idaho individuals in the poaching spree. In early February, Sands and several fellow Fish and Game officers simultaneously interviewed all the named suspects in the case. Additional interviews with the suspects and their associates were conducted in the months that followed. Interview details led to the issuance of four search warrants and the collection of hard evidence for the case.

Ghost Moose in your Neighborhood

In the last week or so, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Panhandle office has taken several calls about odd looking moose. Some have been reported in and around towns, others out in more wild places. The moose appear to be partially white; or, as one caller described 'ghost-like' in appearance.

Moose can experience tick infestations that start in mid-September but the problem is not clearly visible to people until late in the following winter. The ticks are called "moose ticks". Less commonly they are referred to as "winter ticks".

The infestations become visible when moose scratch and paw at their own skin enough to cause large patches of hair to break or fall out. That is when IDFG begins to get reports of sick looking moose.

Many times these patches are on the withers where moose are able to reach and scratch with their hooves. The skin exposed by the hair loss is light colored and from a distance the exposed skin makes the moose appear to be white in color.

Moose tick larvae hatch from eggs laid on the ground in April. They climb vegetation during the late summer and early fall. Stimulated by the carbon dioxide exhaled by a moose, they interlock their legs and wait. When a moose contacts the brushy vegetation covered by interlocked tick larvae, strings of thousands of tick larvae cling onto the hair of the moose and crawl toward the skin. (These tick larvae can also cling to deer, however, deer appear to be able to scratch them off.)

Infested moose can have tens of thousands of ticks. One dead moose was documented to have over 100,000 ticks. Pity the biologist who had to do that necropsy and count them!

Moose ticks take a blood meal from their host in November, January, March and April to mature from larvae to adults. In April, the adult female ticks drop off to lay their eggs on the soil surface, starting the tick life cycle over again.

75th Celebration: The Elusive Wapati

In 1909, the state of elk populations in Idaho was so alarming a moratorium on elk hunting was declared in parts of the state. What had happened to once plentiful herds of elk in Idaho is the story of western expansion across North America.

Lewis and Clark described vast herds covering the grasslands as they made their way west in 1805. As settlers began changing the landscape with farms and ranches, and unregulated market hunters decimated populations through hunting, wildlife like elk disappeared except in secluded parts of the Rocky Mountains.

Alarmed by the rapid disappearance of wildlife, national leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt and Idaho's own Emile Grandjean took action. Roosevelt's efforts led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park; Grandjean's determination helped establish a 220,000-acre game preserve in the Payette River drainage west of the Sawtooth Mountains. Elk herds protected in Yellowstone National Park would later be transplanted to preserves to restore elk in Idaho and throughout the West.

Idaho's elk population today is a direct result of elk transplanted from Yellowstone National Park. Elk were first moved to Idaho in 1915 by railcar and other transplants happened until 1940. Since then, elk have flourished in Idaho and other intrastate transplants have been conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to establish elk in unoccupied range. Today, an estimated 107,000 elk roam the state from the forests of North Idaho to the sagebrush country in the south.

To learn more about Fish and Game's current Elk Management Plan, check out this IDFG video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AzBlhqTCgw.

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

2014 Big Game Seasons Set

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, March 20, adopted the 2014 seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion and gray wolf.

The new seasons include an increase in tags for elk and deer controlled hunts and an increase in tags for pronghorn hunts, as well as expanded wolf hunting and trapping seasons. A summary of major changes include:

- Net increase of 1,076 controlled hunt deer tags.

- Total increase of 296 controlled hunt elk tags.

- Increase of 50 controlled hunt pronghorn tags.

- Increased limits and expanded seasons for black bear and mountain lions.

- Expanded seasons and unified bag limits for hunting and trapping of gray wolves.

Details of the 2014 big game hunting seasons will be posted on the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov and the new printed brochure will be available at all license vendors in late April.