Press Release

June 2014

Fewer Sandhill Crane Tags this Year

The Pacific Flyway Council has allocated Idaho a harvest of 120 cranes for the 2014 season. This is the second consecutive year Idaho's allocation has been reduced. It is the lowest since 1996. This is due to a decline in the most recent three-year average of cranes counted during the annual September survey.

Idaho Fish and Game will be soliciting public comments from June 23-July 4 on a proposed season that would run September 1 - 15 with a daily and season bag limit of two birds.

A summary of public comments will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the July 10 meeting in Salmon, when the commission will consider the proposed 2014 season.

To meet the allocation, Fish and Game proposes to reduce the number of tags available, eliminate the Bonneville County hunt (where there were only five tags available in 2013) and reduce the season limit to two birds. The daily bag limit would also be two birds.

Since 2009, when sandhill crane tags were made available on a first-come first-served basis, the harvest per tag purchased has averaged 48 percent. To stay at or below the Pacific Flyway harvest allocation of 120 cranes, Fish and Game proposes to reduce tags to a maximum of 240.

Anyone interested in commenting can do so by clicking: https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/webform/comment-2014-sandhill-cran...

A season and rules brochure will be available by the end of July. For additional information contact Jeff Knetter at 208-334-2920.

Ask Fish & Game: Packaging and Salmon Possession

Q: If I have my salmon processed and packaged by a commercial processor, but it is still in my cooler in Riggins, is it still a part of my possession limit?

A: Yes. Regardless of how the fish has been processed, it is part of your possession until it reaches its final place of storage and consumption (storage by the processor does not qualify). You can remove fish from your possession and stay on the river by sending them home with a friend. You must include a proxy statement showing the number and kinds of fish and the date taken, along with your name, address and fishing license number. This does not remove fish from daily bag limits, but can reduce the number of fish in one's possession. You can also remove a salmon from possession if you have a large enough crew to eat one in camp. If you or someone else processes your salmon, it is important to remember to keep the scar from the clipped adipose fin intact and attached to some part of the processed fish.

Clearwater Salmon Season Comes to a Close

Fishing for Chinook salmon in the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa rivers will be closed at the end of fishing hours on Sunday June 29, 2014.

This closure marks the end of the spring Chinook fishery in the Clearwater Drainage. Since the season opened on April 26, anglers harvested more than 3700 adult Chinook and more than 1000 jack Chinook in the Clearwater drainage during the 2014 spring season.

Chinook Fishery Continues on Little Salmon

Anglers fishing the Little Salmon River for Chinook salmon will continue to have that opportunity at least through Friday, June 27. While many anglers are catching Chinook on the Little Salmon, fishery managers believe the share set aside for sport anglers has not been completely harvested yet. Those managers will meet later this week to look at the most up to date numbers before deciding if the fishery can continue beyond Friday June 27.

Managing Complex Systems at WMAs Requires Complex Rules

ST. ANTHONY - Simple things have simple instructions. Complex things require more attention. Example: Shampoo = Simple-Use, rinse, repeat if necessary. Wildlife Manage Areas (WMAs) = Complex - Consult instruction manual. Managing a wildlife management area requires juggling the needs of animals, fish, humans, and habitat. Recently the different layers of regulations and funding sources that are required to manage Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area have caused confusion for some anglers looking to fish certain ponds on the WMA.

As the name implies, Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area was created to benefit wildlife. Wildlife needs water to live, hence the creation of ponds. Fish (which are wildlife too) also live in the ponds. To make the issue more complex the ponds at Sand Creek WMA where people love to fish were built with Federal funds specifically designated to benefit all the different types of wildlife found on the WMA, not specifically benefit fish and fishing. There are other Federal funds that do that! See how this starts to get interesting?

The current fishing regulations address when fishing can occur in the ponds and when certain methods of access such as float tubes and boats can be used, but they don't paint the whole picture for how some portions of the WMA can be used. Specific areas of the WMA, including the water in certain ponds, are closed until the beginning of July for the benefit of nesting waterfowl, especially trumpeter swans. It is important that swans are able to fledge their cygnets in peace, so most nesting swans are very sensitive to any form of human disturbance.

Deer With Fawns Poached Near Lake Creek Road

KETCHUM - Idaho Department of Fish and Game Officers are investigating a poached deer off Lake Creek Road. The deer was found shot approximately three quarters of a mile north of Lake Creek Lake.

"It was found in an area that is just off of the main road in an area commonly used for camping," said Alex Head, Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer. "Along with finding the doe deer remains, we also found the remains of two fawns in the same area."

Officers believe the incident happened on June 11 or 12, and are hoping to get the help of the public to solve this case. People with information, leading to a conviction on these or other crimes are eligible for a reward through Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) and callers can remain anonymous. People can either contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day or call their nearest regional Fish and Game office.

Work To Begin On Popular Shoshone County Fishing Pond

The long awaited restoration of the Gene Day Fishing Pond is about to begin. Phase 1 of the project will begin this month after 2 years of planning, designing, and permitting are finalized.

The pond is located at the west end of Osburn City Park. The restoration work will turn the pond into a highly accessible local fishing hole for people in the Silver Valley.

The project is the result of a partnership of many organizations and government agencies including Shoshone County, Shoshone County Sportsmen, the City of Osburn, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR), Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Panhandle Health (PH), the CDA Tribe, and many other interested citizens.

Phase 1 will include the construction of a water control structure to allow for the draining and then future water level management of the pond. Prime Time Construction out of Hayden has been selected to begin the project.

IDFG will also stock pile materials for docks and fishing infrastructure. DEQ will be providing clean fill material for the structure placement. Material removed will be dried on site and later hauled to the Big Creek Repository. The water control structure is expected to take about three weeks to complete.

Although the project will necessitate some minor delays in flow of traffic on of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's, the contractor will make every effort to minimize impacts to users during construction times. The cost of the initial phase of the project is approximately $50,000 which has been funded through IDFG's Sport Fishing Restoration project funding and license sales.

Chinook Fisheries Close in Clearwater

As harvest quotas of adult Chinook salmon will soon be achieved throughout the Clearwater drainage, harvest of adult Chinook in the entire Clearwater (including the Middle Fork, South Fork and Lochsa) will end on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Fishing for all Chinook salmon; including jacks, will be off-limits in the main stem Clearwater and the North Fork Clearwater after Sunday June 22. Closing these sections to all salmon fishing will eliminate mortalities among adult salmon hooked and released by anglers fishing for jack salmon.

Harvest of jack salmon (those under 24 inches) will continue to be allowed on the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa River until further notice. Anglers may harvest up to 4 adipose-clipped Chinook salmon under 24 inches per day on those rivers. Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released. Anglers harvesting four jacks in a day or having 12 jacks in possession must discontinue fishing.

Snake River Sturgeon Poaching - Looking for Answers

Two different reports of sturgeon being poached along the Snake River below CJ Strike Reservoir have Fish and Game officers looking for answers. The public's help is also being sought.

In the last two weeks, the Fish and Game Nampa office has received two different reports of large sturgeon being landed, loaded into vehicles and spirited away by their captors. While sturgeon fishing is allowed on this stretch of the Snake River, it is strictly catch and release. Because of their fragile, cartilaginous bodies, rules prohibit even removing sturgeon from the water.

Investigations continue into both incidents, with officers finding suspected "kill sites" where the fish were landed. "We've collected some great evidence at this time, and are closing in on some suspects," Fish and Game conservation officer Kurt Stieglitz noted. "But we would be very interested in visiting with anyone who has information regarding these or other possible sturgeon poaching incidents along the Snake River."

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in both cases and callers can remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day.

In addition to the CAP hotline, persons with information regarding these cases may also contact the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465 weekdays and Idaho State Police at 208-846-7550 on weekends.

Chinook Harvest Ends on Sections of Lower Salmon River

At the end of fishing hours on Thursday, June 19, 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will implement closures to the harvest of both adult and jack Chinook salmon in the Lower Salmon River from the Rice Creek Bridge Upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Time Zone Bridge and from the mouth of Short's Creek upstream to the uppermost boat ramp at Vinegar Creek.

The balance of the Lower Salmon River from the U.S. Highway 95 Time Zone Bridge to the Mouth of Short's Creek will close to the harvest of both adult and jack Chinook salmon at the end of fishing hours on Sunday, June 22.

These closures are being implemented to reduce interceptions of hatchery and natural origin fish destined for terminal areas in the Salmon River drainage upstream of the Little Salmon River, while still providing access to harvestable hatchery fish destined to the Little Salmon and Rapid rivers.

75th Celebration: Wilderness - Conserving Special Places

"A wilderness is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain" -Excerpt from the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Fifty years ago, America became the first nation to make conservation of wilderness a national policy. For Idaho, this meant conserving the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness along the Idaho's northern Rocky Mountain spine. But the biggest swath of wilderness in the state, "The River of No Return Wilderness," was set aside in 1980 largely due to the efforts of Idaho Senator Frank Church and then Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus with essential help from Idaho Fish & Game's Marty Morache.

"We had good and valid reason to strive for the protection of that and it was primarily driven by the anadromous fish values," said 87-year-old Morache.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is crucial habitat for Idaho's Chinook salmon, steelhead and sockeye salmon. It also was home to bighorn sheep, elk, deer, bear, mountain lions, wolverines and more. Hand in hand with conserving Idaho's wildlife comes the responsibility of conserving the wild places where these animals make their home.

To learn more about this and other 75th Celebration stories, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/75th.

Summer Chinook Season Opens Saturday June 21

Salmon fishing on the South Fork Salmon River and upper Salmon River opens Saturday, June 21.

Fishery managers are estimating there are enough fish returning to meet broodstock needs and have fisheries in the South Fork and upper Salmon rivers but are expecting fewer returning fish than the preseason forecast.

Returns of adult Chinook to Idaho hatcheries have been variable this year. The return of hatchery Chinook to Rapid River Hatchery near Riggins is better than what was forecasted. In contrast, hatchery Chinook salmon headed to the South Fork Salmon River are lower in number than the preseason forecast. The South Fork Salmon river return is now estimated to be approximately 1,000 hatchery Chinook adults available for the sport fishery harvest. This new estimate is two-thirds of what was forecasted preseason. Managers also expect the fisheries to start rather slowly as these stocks are still coming over Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River.

Returns to Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth hatcheries on the upper Salmon River also are expected to be less than forecast but large enough to support some fishing. Length of those fisheries will be influenced by the actual number of fish returning, river conditions during the fisheries and catch rates in the fisheries.

Limits on both rivers remain at 4 fish per day. Only 2 of those fish may be adults. The possession limit will be 12 fish. Only 6 of those fish may be adults. The season limit for spring/summer Chinook salmon in Idaho is 20 adult salmon. The season limit applies to all Chinook salmon fisheries before September 1. Any angler who has recorded 20 spring/summer Chinook salmon on a permit must discontinue fishing regardless of where those fish were harvested.