Press Release

October 2014

Checkstation Harvest Stats for Southeast Idaho

The Port of Entry Checkstation was in full swing this year during both general deer opening weekend (October 10, 11, and 12) and the weekend of October 18 and 19.

This year, opening weekend was marked by a 30.5% increase in hunters checked through the checkstation compared to the same time period in 2013. Hunter success was 20%, which was similar to 2013's hunter success (20.95%). The number of mule deer that came through the checkstation opening weekend this year also increased by approximately 25% over last year -- from 260 animals to 327.

The percent of 4+ point bucks in the harvest during the opener was 32.8%, an increase from 24% of the harvest for the combined opening weekend in 2013. The percent of yearling bucks in the harvest was 43.6%, a decrease from 52.8% of the harvest for the same check station effort in 2013. This was to be expected. With three consecutive mild winters throughout most of southeast Idaho-which allowed for a higher fawn recruitment each year-- it made sense that hunters were able to harvest larger more mature bucks this year than in the past.

One antlered white-tailed deer was checked from GMU 71. The percentage of antlerless deer in the harvest was 20%, similar to the 18.5% observed in 2013.

Deer were in good body condition with good fat deposits and the average yearling weight was 108.5 pounds (n=30). Hunters reported seeing numerous does and fawns on the hills.

During the weekend of October 18 and 19, there was actually a reduction in deer hunter numbers (-9.67%) and harvest success (-29.76%) compared to the same time period in 2013. Many of the hunters Fish and Game spoke with felt that the unseasonably warm weather affected deer behavior, and consequently hunter success.

However, just as with opening weekend, the percentage of deer with 4+ points in the harvest continued to be higher than in 2013, and the percentage of yearlings continued to be lower.

Project WILD Workshop Focuses on Wildlife, Water, and Words

If you are an educator who has participated in a Project WILD, Project WET, or Project Learning Tree workshop, then you are already aware of some of the innovative tools available for teaching science and environmental education to students of all ages. But did you know there is one workshop that ties all three "Projects" together with a special focus on literature?

In November, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Forest Products Commission, and the University of Idaho are sponsoring "Focus on Literature". This workshop will help teachers link science and environmental education with reading and writing in their classrooms.

Focus on Literature will be held at the Fish and Game office in Pocatello located at 1345 Barton Road. The workshop will run from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm on Friday, November 14 and will continue from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm on Saturday, November 15.

Focus on Literature is ideal for any educator-schoolteachers (K-12), Head Start instructors, 4-H leaders, scoutmasters, docents, afterschool program teachers, and home school educators. The registration fee for this workshop is $35. As an option, participants can attend the workshop for university credit at an additional cost ($50 - $60). Typically, an outside assignment is required for those taking it for credit.

Workshop participants will learn about Idaho's wildlife, habitats, and water resources as well as the value, use, and management of those resources.

Participants will also take home a variety of educational materials, including their choice of activity guides from one of the programs (Project WILD, Project WET, and Project Learning Tree) as well as posters, books, and a host of other materials, tools, and project ideas perfect for any classroom setting.

Apply for Turkey Depredation Hunts

Idaho Fish and Game's Southeast Region is encouraging anyone who is interested in participating in special turkey depredation hunts in the region to apply.

In order to help relieve crop and property damage problems caused by turkeys, Fish and Game may have to implement special hunts in some limited areas in southeast Idaho. These hunts are usually held on short notice, involve small areas, and are usually limited to a few hunters.

The turkey depredation hunt application can be found in the Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Rule Booklet on page 33. Please complete the application and mail it to or drop it off at the regional office located at 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello, 83204.

Applicants will be added to the current list of depredation hunt applicants in the order they are received. There is no guarantee Fish and Game will implement depredation hunts that will include all the applicants. However, Fish and Game is anticipating the potential need for these special hunts in the southeast region and would like to compile a list of hunters to contact if it becomes necessary to address depredation concerns.

Properly Dispose of Carcasses

With hunting seasons in full swing, now is the busiest time of year for Fish and Game conservation officers. However, much of their limited and valuable time continues to be wasted by inconsiderate hunters, who inappropriately dump fleshed out deer and elk carcasses.

Conservation officer Matt O'Connell recently devoted several hours of time to just such a circumstance. A "suspected poaching" call was relayed to O'Connell who investigated. Rather than a poaching case, he found two butchered deer carcasses dumped in a subdivision vacant lot, immediately adjacent to occupied homes. "Anytime a dumped carcass call comes in, it needs to be investigated," O'Connell said. "And occasionally it is a case of wasted game, but more often than not, it's simply the remains of butchered animals left by an inconsiderate person for someone else to clean up."

Dumping fleshed out game carcasses is not only illegal (littering), it is also inconsiderate of nearby residents and reflects poorly on all hunters. The practice also distracts already short-handed conservation officers from real poaching cases.

After a thorough job of butchering an animal, hunters should follow through by taking care of what remains. Plan ahead to butcher the carcass a day or so prior to trash pickup. Double-bag the carcass before placing it in the garbage can; doing so will reduce odors. And lastly, do not use a vacant lot as a dumping ground.

Rules for Hunting on Private Land

Deer rifle seasons opened in mid-October in much of Idaho. Fish and Game is receiving a few calls from landowners upset about people hunting on their private land without permission.

Hunting laws in many states require that hunters have verbal permission from the landowner before hunting on any private land. Some states require written permission to hunt private property. Neither is the case in Idaho.

A law requiring permission to hunt any private land would be a real challenge in Idaho, where about 67% of the land base is public. With so much public land, and much private land interspersed among tracts of public ground, it isn't always apparent if land is public or private.

The Idaho trespass law states that "no person may enter private land to hunt, fish, or trap without permission if the land is either cultivated, or posted...". So, land that is cultivated cannot be hunted without permission, and the landowner must post uncultivated land to keep hunters out. Hay fields and irrigated pasture are cultivated lands.

Proper posting consists of legible NO TRESPASSING signs; trees or posts painted with 100 square inches of high visibility orange paint; or, metal fence posts painted orange for the top 18". One of these markers must be posted every 660 feet (or closer) around the property and at Ôreasonable access points'. Conspicuous signs posted where a public road enters and leaves private property, through which or along which road the public has a right-of-way, also constitutes proper posting.

75th Celebration: 2014 - Creatures of the Night

2014 marks the First Annual National Bat Week. Although achieving this recognition for these much maligned creatures was a nationwide effort, the roots for this national celebration run deep in Idaho.

One of the most significant events with respect to bat conservation in the West happened in 1994. That year, biologists in several western states began to develop a conservation strategy for the Townsend's big-eared bat.

Idaho helped lead the Townsend's big-eared bat strategy which was the impetus for the subsequent formation of both the Western Bat Working Group and the Idaho Bat Working Group.

Why should Idaho be concerned about bats? The answer to this is both dollars and sense.

Insect-eating bats are the night-time equivalent of insect-eating birds. They can consume up to their body weight in insects each night. For Idaho, this translates into an estimated $313 million dollar savings for Idaho's agricultural industry. If we didn't have bats in Idaho, farmers would have to use more pesticides, driving up the cost of producing the food we eat.

Bats play an essential role in our environment. While in Idaho their appetite for insects helps agriculture and our forests by eating damaging insects, in other regions of the globe, they are the primary pollinators for fruits such as mangoes, cocoa and bananas. Over 500 plants rely on bats to pollinate their flowers or spread their seeds. These nocturnal creatures also redistribute nutrients across the landscape.

Idaho is home to 14 regularly-occurring bat species, all of which are of the insect-eating variety. They roost in caves, abandoned mines, cliffs and rock outcrops, bridges, buildings, trees and foliage, bat boxes, and sometimes people's attics.

To read more about Idaho's Creatures of the Night and other 75th Celebration stories, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/75th.

More Steelhead This Fall

In the spring of 2014 anglers on the Clearwater River were fishing for an unusually small run of "B-run" steelhead. Because steelhead overwinter in freshwater, they start arriving in August, but don't spawn until spring. As anglers continue to harvest hatchery steelhead through the winter and spring, the number of available hatchery fish diminishes. The return that began last fall was small enough that fisheries managers were forced to reduce the limit, to allow anglers continued opportunity through spring, and on a large stretch of the Clearwater there was zero harvest of steelhead longer than 28 inches.

2014 is a much better year for steelhead, and the return of the larger "B-run" fish is especially healthy. This fall, Clearwater anglers are allowed to keep two steelhead 20 inches or longer per day. The possession limit on the Clearwater is six steelhead and anglers are allowed to keep 20 steelhead for the season statewide. Only steelhead with a missing adipose fin evidenced by a healed scar may be harvested.

In addition to good numbers of steelhead, anglers on the Clearwater are catching fall Chinook salmon, and coho salmon which they are now allowed to harvest.

Social Media Users Respond to Poaching Incidents

Several recent poaching cases are catching the attention of Facebook users who follow the Citizens Against Poaching page; a trophy mule deer shot before rifle season in Caribou County, two five-point bull elk shot out of season in Owyhee County, five mule deer with backstraps removed; left to waste in Homedale. The list goes on.

Some of these cases are stirring a great deal of emotion in wildlife lovers who are angry about these crimes. While social media allows Citizens Against Poaching to expose these cases more effectively, this is not necessarily a sign of an increase in poaching.

"With millions of acres of habitat here in Idaho, along with abundant wildlife, people who choose to steal fish and wildlife from the people of Idaho have plenty of opportunity," said Assistant Chief of Enforcement Chris Wright "Poaching has been a problem here from the day our agency was created 75 years ago. In the 21st century we hope tools like social media might actually help reduce poaching incidents."

Citizens Against Poaching offers cash rewards to callers who provide information leading to the citation of suspected poachers. Callers may collect a reward while remaining anonymous.

"Many true sportsmen would help us solve cases regardless of the reward," said Wright, "But it is a good added incentive for some people."

Social media is proving to be a highly effective way to spread the word about these crimes. The Facebook post showing those five mule deer left to waste in Homedale was shared 582 times. As a result, it has reached more than 32,600 Facebook users.

"This is one of several Facebook posts receiving a great deal of attention on the CAP Facebook page," said Public Information Specialist Steve Liebenthal. "With so much exposure, we are hopeful that one of those 32,000 people might have that one piece of information that will help us crack this case."

Ask Fish & Game: Trapping Licenses

Q. Where can I pick up a trapping license?

A. Fish and Game has made it easier to get a trapping license. Until recently they were only available at Fish and Game offices. Now you can get your trapping license at any license vendor in the state if you have completed your furtaker harvest report from the previous trapping season.

You can also order with a credit card at 1-800-554-8685 or online at https://id.outdoorcentral.us/.

Fish and Game Seeks Information About Moose Poaching Near Wallace

Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information regarding the poaching of a cow moose on the Burke Creek Canyon Road (outside of Wallace) going towards Glidden Lake. The carcass was found about 20 yards above the road, and the poachers constructed a wall of branches to hide their activities from the road. The moose was most likely killed sometime between October 13th and October 15th.

The cow moose was killed in Unit 4, which has no open season for cow moose. One front shoulder of the moose was taken, but the rest of the carcass was left to waste. Evidence was gathered from the scene and the investigation is ongoing.

If you have any information pertaining to this incident, please contact Idaho Department of Fish & Game at 208-769-1414 during normal business hours, or call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999. It is very important that callers provide contact information, such as a phone number, so an officer can contact them with questions. Callers may remain anonymous, and rewards are offered for information leading to charges being filed against the violators.

Panhandle Elk Hunters Are Enjoying Their Time Outdoors

The Panhandle Elk B-tag rifle season ends Friday, October 24; and, the Panhandle Elk A-tag rifle season opens Saturday, October 25. Even for hunters, the system is somewhat complicated.

Elk management zones and the Idaho A/B elk tag system were developed in an effort to provide as many hunting method (firearm type) opportunities as possible within the limited number of days available. ÔA' tags generally provide more opportunity for archers and muzzleloaders but have limited rifle seasons; whereas, ÔB' tags provide more rifle hunting opportunity and fewer days for primitive weapons enthusiasts.

With the seasons well underway, people are asking how the harvest looks. Providing a well-supported answer during the season is not really possible. Tallying actual hunter success and harvest numbers will not be completed for several months. All that is available now are some generalities and anecdotal comments about what we have heard from other hunters, or what we have seen and heard while checking hunters in the field.

Hunters coming through a check station one day may bring numerous animals in and say they saw lots of deer and elk. The next day at the same check station we may see very few animals and hear that deer and elk hunting was slow and that most hunters didn't see anything.

For about 30 years, hunters were required to present every elk harvested in the Idaho Panhandle to a check station or IDFG office. The mandatory check provided an ongoing Ôfeel' for how the seasons were progressing. However, because hunters could take several days before they reported harvests, even that information was not particularly current.

Five Mule Deer Bucks Found Wasted Near Homedale Airport

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding five mule deer bucks found wasted near the Homedale Airport.

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

The hides, heads and carcasses were discovered October 17 along a rural road near a popular fishing area on the Snake River. About half of the meat required to be salvaged by Idaho law was left to rot. None of the shoulder meat was taken from any of the deer, and much of the other choice meat was also left to rot.

Fish and Game conservation officer Craig Mickelson is very interested in visiting with anyone with knowledge of the incident.

"Someone harvested these deer, skinned them, cut the antlers off most of the skulls and did not salvage all the edible meat as required by law," Mickelson said. "We'd sure like to know who went through all this effort just to waste these deer."

Hunters are required to remove and care for the edible meat of big game animals, except black bears, mountain lions and gray wolves. This includes the meat from the hind quarters as far down as the hock, meat of the front quarters as far downs as the knee and meat along the backbone which is the loin and tenderloin.

In addition to the CAP hotline, anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Senior Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson at 208-465-8465 or the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.