Press Release

December 2014

New Year Requires New Hunting and Fishing Licenses in Idaho

Each of the 50 states has its own licensing system for hunting and fishing. Unlike Idaho, many states have hunting and fishing licenses that expire on dates other than December 31.

My '14 Non-resident Washington fishing license' is valid for fishing in the state of Washington from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015. I hope to find an opportunity to head that way to fish Lake Roosevelt again with that license before it expires next March.

Idaho hunting and fishing licenses are sold on a calendar year basis. A new license must be purchased to hunt or fish in Idaho beginning January 1.

I once checked an angler in Idaho on the Memorial Day weekend. He had a license for the prior year. He said that he had purchased it in September and that it was valid for a yearÉlike a vehicle license plate. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

I almost forgot to purchase new licenses on January 1 for my sons a few years ago. A co-worker was taking his family ice fishing on Cocolalla Lake on January 1, and he invited us to go along. I already had purchased my sportsman's package that includes hunting and fishing licenses. They go on sale every December 1 for the following year but they are not valid until January 1.

As we approached Westmond, I asked my sons if they had remembered to bring their licenses. They said they had them in their wallets. While I was pleased that they had remembered, it was at that point that I realized the year had ended and they needed new ones . . . beginning that very day. Their licenses had expired eight hours ago.

Lucky for us, the Westmond Store, just across the road from Cocolalla Lake, is a license vendor. I was able to purchase licenses and we were able to go fishing without the need to drive all the way to Sandpoint to buy the boys' licenses.

Public's Help Sought in Swan Poaching Case

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding the poaching of a trumpeter swan on the Boise River just east of Middleton. The swan appeared to have been killed on or about December 26th.

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

At more than 20 pounds, and with a wingspan of eight feet, the trumpeter swan is the largest waterfowl in North America and the largest swan in the world. There is no hunting season for trumpeter swans in Idaho.

The juvenile swan was discovered along the Boise River just upstream from the Lansing Lane Sportsman's Access area on the afternoon of December 26th. A waterfowl hunter called into the CAP hotline to report the find.

Fish and Game conservation officer Matt O'Connell collected evidence at the scene, but hopes to learn more about the case from others who have knowledge of the poaching incident. "I am very interested in visiting with anyone who has information regarding this poached swan," O'Connell stated.

This case is eerily similar to another trumpeter swan poaching case that occurred near the Boise River just east of Middleton in early 2013. In that case, several witnesses provided key information that led to the prosecution of the four swan poachers and a substantial reward for the witnesses.

In addition to the CAP hotline, persons may also contact their local Fish and Game office with information regarding this case.

Commission to Meet in Boise

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set seasons for moose, sheep, and goat when it meets January 21 and 22 at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise.

A public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. January 21, in the headquarters trophy room.

The Fish and Game Commission usually holds a public hearing in conjunction with each regular meeting. Anyone wishing 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 meetings.

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).

Spring Steelhead Season Opens Thursday

For some anglers, the best thing about New Year's is the start of the spring steelhead season, which opens January 1.

Anglers are reminded that they will need a 2015 fishing license and steelhead permit.

Spring steelhead season is open on the:

  • Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
  • Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
  • Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
  • Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
  • North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
  • South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
  • Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.

The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:

  • On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
  • On the Little Salmon River, the season runs through May 15.
  • On the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam to Oxbow Dam, the season runs through May 31.
  • On the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.

Steelhead are in the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. Here steelhead are defined as rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin. During November, 950 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River. Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead.

Apply Soon for Spring Controlled Hunts

The application period for spring black bear controlled hunts opens January 15 and continues through February 15.

This year, the spring turkey controlled hunt application period opens February 1 and runs through March 1. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15, with some controlled hunts opening later. Turkey youth hunts open April 8.

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor; Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling 1-800-55HUNT5; or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/controlledHunts/ The application fee is $6.25 per person for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications. Hunters must have a 2015 Idaho hunting license to apply.

Spring 2015 bear controlled hunt information is in the 2014 Big Game Seasons and Rules book. Spring turkey controlled hunt information is available in the 2014-2015 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Rules book.

Leftover controlled hunt tags for spring turkey and bear go on sale April 1 at 10:00 a.m. MDT.

Ask Fish & Game: Ice Fishing

Q. Are there special rules for ice fishing?

A. Yes. Ice fishing rules are slightly different than general fishing for public safety and general crowding. Fishing is allowed only through a hole up to 10 inches in diameter. This reduces the risk of someone falling through holes. The only exception is on Bear Lake in Southeast Idaho where anglers can dip-net cisco through any size hole. There are no restrictions on the number of holes, but an angler can fish with up to five poles or lines at a time, and up to five hooks per line. All lines must be attended by the angler. The two-pole permit is not valid for ice fishing. Anglers also should check the 2013-2015 Fishing Seasons and Rules book for regional restrictions: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/rules/seasonsRules.pdf.

Egin-Hamer Closure Goes Into Effect January 1

What started out as an idea by local county commissioners to reopen a popular farm to market road seventeen years ago continues to be a success not just for humans, but also for wintering wildlife. Even the winter has been mild so far; the lack of human disturbance created by the closure allows herds of deer, elk, and moose to spend more time down on the desert between St. Anthony and Dubois during crucial portions of the late winter and early spring.

This year special emphasis is being placed on keeping vehicles from accessing that portion of the Red Road within the closure. Vehicle found beyond barriers will receive citations.

The Egin-Hamer Area Closure places nearly 500 square miles of land off-limits to human entry for the protection of wintering deer, elk, and moose herds. The closure begins on January 1 and lasts through the end of March on lands south of the Egin-Hamer Road and until April 30, north of it. Once again, signs marking the area north of the Egin-Hamer road are fluorescent orange, while signs for the earlier opening southern portion are lime green colored.

The arrangement for the closure was agreed upon when county commissioners approached the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with the idea of the area closure in return for the re-opening of the Egin-Hamer Road for winter travel. State agencies such as IDFG and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) also have land involved in the closure and play an active role in the management. Individual landowners accessing their own private lands are exempt from the closure. The active St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from the Red Road to Thunder Mountain and adjacent to Egin Lakes access, is also exempt from the closure. County officials earlier this year explored the possibilities of modifying the closure area, but did not pursue plans once they learned of the cost and process involved.

Preparation Important To Use A Boat For Waterfowl Hunting

Hunters using a boat to get to their island blind, and hunters shooting from their duck boats . . . are going not only on a hunting trip. They are also going on a boating trip.

It is critically important that they have all of the safety equipment that a boating outing requires. It is just as important to consider the weight capacity of the boat they are using.

Almost every year, there is a boating accident in northern Idaho involving duck hunters. With water temperatures just above freezing, these accidents can tragically result in a fatality.

The most common mistake waterfowl hunters make in their boating trip is overloading the boat. All vessels under 20 feet in length constructed after Nov 1, 1972 have a capacity plate permanently affixed. The plate will be in a location clearly visible to the operator while the boat is underway. The plate lists the maximum horsepower, maximum number of persons, and maximum weight capacity including all people, dogs and gear.

By the time you put on an outboard motor, load three hunters and all their gear, and call a retriever into the boat, it is very easy to exceed the weight capacity without knowing it.

Exceeding the weight capacity of a boat creates a very dangerous condition. Overloading reduces the amount of freeboard, which is the vertical distance measured on the boat's side from the waterline to the gunwale. Insufficient freeboard can lead to poor handling in rough water and makes it easier for the boat to swamp.

Duck hunters are often out in the worst weather where whitecaps or the wake of a passing boat could quickly send water over the gunwale and into the boat. An excited retriever can unexpectedly move in the boat adding to the danger if a boat is overloaded.

Give the Gift of Outdoor Adventure

Buy your favorite hunter a chance to win the hunt of a lifetime. The first drawing is still several months away, but it's not too early to enter Idaho Fish and Game's Super Hunt.

The Super Hunt is a fund-raising drawing for the ultimate hunting opportunity. The tags are handed out to winners in two drawings. Entries are drawn for elk, deer, and pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose. That includes general hunts and controlled hunts.

The first drawing is in June when entries are drawn for eight elk, eight deer and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt. One Super Hunt Combo entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to four hunts - one each elk, deer, pronghorn and moose.

Entries can be purchased online at: https://id.outdoorcentral.us/, at license vendors and Fish and Game offices, by phone at 800-554-8685, or by mail at: IDFG License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. Money from the sale of entries supports the Access Yes! program, which compensates landowners who provide access to, or across private land.

For information about this program contact local Fish and Game officials or visit the Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/accessyesguide.aspx. Super Hunt winners can now share their stories on Fish and Game's Super Hunt Facebook book page, available at http://www.facebook.com/pages/SuperHunt-Idaho/171792339534643.

Clearwater Flows Back to Normal - Fishing is Hot!

After work that required dramatic fluctuations in the North Fork Clearwater River and the Clearwater downstream from the North Fork, flows are back to normal this week.

The Army Corps of Engineers was conducting tests on Dworshak Dam fluctuating releases between 1,600 and 5,500 cfs. This caused water levels in the North Fork Clearwater and main Clearwater rivers to fluctuate up to 1-foot per hour. This week flows are back to approximately 1,600 cfs..

Fishing has remained good to excellent all along the Clearwater regardless of the fluctuations. During the second-to-last weekend of 2014, catch rates were some of the best of the fall season. Anglers on the main river from the mouth to the Orofino Bridge caught one fish every four hours on average. The average on the North Fork Clearwater was eight hours per fish.

Ask Fish & Game: Banded Ducks

Q. I shot a mallard recently that had an aluminum band around its leg. How do I report it?

A. To report the band, call toll-free to 1-800-327-2263 (BAND) or report online at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/. You can keep the band, as most duck hunters want to do. The U.S. Geological Survey will send you a certificate that tells you when and where the bird was banded, if you give a mailing address. Any species of waterfowl or other kinds of birds can be reported at the same site. You can also report colored plastic bands, such as numbered neck bands on snow geese and swans, and wing tags on white pelicans. Biologists have been banding migratory birds for decades, to gather valuable information about migration. Banding also provides clues about waterfowl harvest levels, and the data are used to set waterfowl hunting seasons nationally.

Three East Idaho Poachers Sentenced

On December 3, 2014, sentences were handed down by the Honorable Charles L. Roos in Bingham County court to three east Idaho men charged with felony wildlife violations dating back to 2010.

Robert D. Huntsman (52) of Shelley, Idaho, pleaded guilty in Bingham County court on December 3 to two counts of unlawfully possessing two trophy bull elk, unlawfully possessing a pronghorn antelope, and unlawfully possessing two or more big game animals in a twelve-month period. He was sentenced to $14,715 in fines and restitution, 8 years of probation and suspension of his hunting privileges for life during which time he cannot accompany anyone in the field while hunting.

Jade D. Huntsman (28) of Shelley, Idaho, pleaded guilty in Bingham County court to unlawfully possessing a trophy elk and a pronghorn antelope. He was sentenced to $4,880 in fines and restitution, 4 years probation, and suspension of his hunting privileges for seven years during which time he cannot accompany anyone in the field while hunting.

Robert Chad Huntsman (29) of Ammon, Idaho, pleaded guilty in Bingham County court to possessing a trophy elk unlawfully. His sentence included $3,720 in fines and restitution, 2 years probation, and suspension of his hunting privileges for 5 years during which time he cannot accompany anyone in the field while hunting.

Any person who unlawfully kills or has in their possession an unlawfully killed trophy animal can be charged with a felony. For elk, a trophy animal is a bull with a Boone and Crocket score exceeding 300 points. Any person who knowingly and intentionally sells any unlawfully taken animal or its parts can be charged with a separate felony. Idaho Fish and Game felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in state prison, a lifetime suspension of hunting and/or fishing privileges, and up to a $50,000 fine per count.