With hunting seasons drawing toward a close, many hunters are now cutting and wrapping the deer, elk, and moose taken this hunting season. The end product is delicious, nutritious and healthy meat for home consumption. Hunters who are successful at harvesting a big game animal are required by law to remove and care for the edible meat. This includes the meat from hind quarters as far down as the hock, meat of the front quarters as far down as the knee, and meat along the backbone. The law does not require removing the meat of the head or neck, meat covering or between the ribs, or meat on the bones after close trimming. After the work is done, there is a pile of bones, a hide, and a head. Nearly all hunters will dispose of the unwanted portions properly. However, a very small number will not. It does not take many improperly dumped and highly visible carcasses to generate strong negative reactions. Unwanted big game carcasses that end up on the side of the road or in Ôvacant lots' (every Ôvacant lot' is owned by somebody) become eyesores and roadway hazards. They attract dogs and scavenging birds (ravens, magpies, and bald eagles). The scavengers then become dangers to drivers who swerve to avoid hitting them. And to non-hunters, the practice leads to a bad impression of hunters. Calls are coming in to Idaho Fish and Game about "poached" animals along roadsides. Some are probably the improperly discarded remains of legally harvested animals. Often, there is no way to tell if the animal was legally taken or not. But it takes valuable Conservation Officer time to check each one out. Once a hunter has removed the edible meat, the unusable parts should be disposed of properly as a courtesy to others. The waste can be double-bagged, securely tied, and put out for garbage collection. Many counties in Idaho have transfer stations. These facilities will accept the inedible parts of big game for no charge from residents who live within that county.
Break out your favorite chili recipes and come join the discussion! Anyone interested in local wildlife management issues is welcome to attend the December sportsperson chili dinner cook-off meeting on Tuesday, December 9th at the regional fish and game office, 3316 16th street, in Lewiston. The dinner meeting will begin at 5:30pm and will feature presentations including; an overview of 2014 access site improvements, fall fisheries highlights, a check station data summary and much more. "This meeting is intended to stimulate casual conversation while provide a chance for folks to break the cabin fever and warm up with homemade chili, says regional supervisor, Jerome Hansen. Participants are encouraged to bring a pot of chili, soup or stew to add to the competition. Attendees will have a chance to vote on their favorite chili, soup or stew. Dinner will be served free of charge on a first come-first serve basis. Contact the regional office at (208) 799-5010 for more information.
To get ahead of the early spring arrival of Idaho's State Bird, the Mountain Bluebird, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is offering a limited number of bluebird nest boxes for $7.00. These bird boxes make great Christmas presents for those wildlife lovers on our lists. Funds collected from the nest box sale are used to enhance the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area located near the IDFG office. Fish and Game volunteers constructed the cedar nest boxes using donated lumber from Idaho Forest Products in Lewiston. Bluebirds nest throughout Idaho in higher elevation meadows, forested areas and open ridges in mountainous regions. However, many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood or taken by aggressive non-native species like the European starling and English House sparrow. Many bluebirds never find nest sites, so man-made nest houses can help fill the natural nest-site shortage. Because bluebirds seldom nest in urban areas, boxes should be placed far from any building or community. In urban areas, nest boxes are likely to attract highly aggressive bluebird competitors such as starlings or house sparrows. When boxes are spaced too close together, bluebirds will divert energy defending territory that would be better spent on reproductive success. Protect boxes from prevailing winds and the hot afternoon sun by mounting them on the north or east side of mounting posts or trees. A limited supply of bird feeders, bat and wood duck boxes are also available. Get yours today! For more information on wood working for wildlife or volunteering for Fish and Game, contact the Clearwater Region Office, 3316 16th Street, Lewiston, 83501, 799-5010.
Over the river and through the woods, to catch a steelhead we go. For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with family and eat a large bird purchased from a grocery store. For a few diehard Boise anglers, the four day holiday weekend is the perfect time to sneak away in hopes of catching a steelhead on the Boise River. Fish and Game will release more steelhead from the Hells Canyon trap into the Boise River on Tuesday November 25. The exact time of that release will depend on trapping and travel conditions. The releases provide anglers the opportunity to fish for the large ocean going trout without straying too far from home. With this release the number of steelhead brought to the Boise will be approximately 1,000. Steelhead are released into the Boise at various locations between Glennwood Bridge and Barber Park. Anglers fishing for steelhead in other parts of the state are finding success in the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon Rivers. For more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=38
The MK Nature Center's 8th Annual Bird Seed Sale is coming up. This year's sale will be held on Friday & Saturday Dec. 5th & 6th from 9 to 5pm at the MK Nature Center. The sale is a cooperative effort between Wild Birds Unlimited of Boise and the MK Nature Center. It's a great opportunity for backyard bird lovers to purchase fresh, quality seed. All proceeds from the sale are used to support educational programs at the MK Nature Center. The sale will include fun family activities on Saturday December 6th, including live birds of prey presentations at 11:30, 12:30 and 1:30pm, and kids' crafts from 11 to 3pm. If you want to learn more contact Sue Dudley at: email@example.com or 287-2900.
If you are looking for an easy gift for your favorite sportsman this Christmas, why not consider a fishing/hunting license? Licenses/permits for 2015 go on sale Monday December 1. There are many options, including a lifetime license which is a great option for parents, grandparents or spouses. There are many ways you can purchase a Fish and Game license or permit, and none of them involve braving the crowd at the mall. You can purchase a gift certificate at any regional office, and you can even purchase licenses and permits online and print right from your home computer! For information on purchasing licenses/permits/tags go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fees/
Q: I noticed you have a special drawing where I can win a tag of my choice if I submit my harvest report by December 1st. What if I'm still hunting by then? A: If you have a late hunt, your name will be entered in the drawing if you file your harvest report by ten days after the end of your hunt.
For the second time in as many months an angler has set a new record in Idaho. On November 8, Idaho Falls angler Steve Micek landed a coho salmon weighing 11.8 pounds. It was 33 inches in length. The hefty silver replaces the initial record set in October during Idaho's inaugural coho season. Because coho fishing is a brand new sport in Idaho, it is likely new records for coho will be recorded in the coming years if returns justify future harvest seasons. 2014 was the first year Idahoans were allowed to target coho salmon, thanks in large part to the work being done by the Nez Perce Tribe to bring coho back to the Idaho rivers where they once spawned naturally.
Visitors to the Boundary-Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Bonners Ferry have noticed that water levels across the WMA are low this year. The lower than normal water level is making trapping and waterfowl hunting very difficult. Three primary causes have contributed to the lower than desired water levels. These include the need to repair two broken water control structures, lower than normal rainfall, and the need to implement a vegetation management practice known as moist soil management. Properly functioning water control structures normally allow WMA managers to fluctuate water levels throughout the wetlands. However, two of the control structures were not functioning properly and needed repairs. For this work to be completed, water levels across the WMA, and the slough that carries and distributes water, had to be drawn down. When the slough is drawn down, ground water seeps out of the wetlands and further lowers the water table and wetland levels. Wildlife Habitat Biologist Colleen Trese manages the Boundary-Smith Creek WMA. According to Trese, "Wetlands with stable water levels often see a decline in emergent vegetation and a loss of productivity over time. Therefore, the long-term management plan for the area includes drawing down each of the nine individual wetland cells once every five years on a rotational basis to increase productivity." Periodic drawdowns of wetland areas expose bottom sediments and generate aerobic decomposition. The mudflats in a drawn down wetland favor the germination of plants typical of early marsh succession. Without drawdowns, these plants are outcompeted by cattails. Vegetation produced in drawdowns creates an abundance of seed that is excellent food for waterfowl, enhancing waterfowl habitat and use.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has instructed managers to further pursue a land donation and two land exchanges that would increase access for the public. Cave Lake Donation: .627 acres adjacent to the Coeur d'Alene River Wildlife Management Area. This property, which fronts Cave Lake could be easily incorporated into the Coeur d'Alene River WMA, allowing the Department to better manage the current ownership and reduce trespass and other issues associated with in-holdings. Swan Lake/Freeman Lake Exchange: Exchange 69 acres of the Department's Freeman Lake property in Bonner County for 36 acres on Swan Lake adjacent to the Coeur d'Alene WMA, owned by the Minnaloosa Land Company in a value for value exchange. The Minnaloosa Land Company will convey to the Department by warranty deed the Swan Lake property and $260,689.00 in cash to equalize the value of the Department conveying to the Minnaloosa Land Company by warranty deed 69 acres of the Freeman Lake property. The Department will retain the roadway into Freeman Lake and 30.4-acres of the public access site. The Swan Lake parcel is located on the north shoreline of the lake between a private ranch and Department owned land. The property would be excellent for anglers, waterfowl hunters, and big game hunters who want to access the adjacent federal and state properties. Silver Creek Exchange: Exchange of 29.79 Fish and Game acres now leased for agricultural purposes to Picabo Land and Livestock for approximately 2 miles of permanent public access protected through easement along both banks of Silver Creek. The easement will provide sportsmen year-round access within 30 feet of the high-water mark along Silver Creek, allowing them to walk and hike along the banks of the stream. A new road will be constructed to access the existing Fish and Game property and Silver Creek West Access site.
Don't forget our feathered friends this winter and holiday season. The MK Nature Center's eighth annual Holiday Bird Seed Sale will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6. Stock up on winter bird seed and find that special gift for the outdoor person on your list. Purchase premium bird seed in 5, 20 or 50-pound bags. Other items for sale include quality bird feeders, nature books, apparel, jewelry and children's gifts. Many of the items are made from recycled materials and made in the U.S.A. This year bring your whole family on Saturday December 6 to the "Live Bird Presentations" at 11:30, 12:30, and 1:30. Kids can make a free holiday ornament from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., also on Dec. 6th. All proceeds from the sale benefit Nature Center educational programs. The sale is presented by Idaho Fish and Game's MK Nature Center and Wild Birds Unlimited. The MK Nature Center is behind Fish and Game headquarters at 600 South Walnut, Boise. For questions please call Sue Dudley at 208-287-2900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What is the quickest way to figure out what hunts are still open in Idaho? A: That's an easy one. Go to our Hunt Planner at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntPlanner/.
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