Press Release

February 2015

Project WILD workshop scheduled in Lewiston

Are you a teacher that is wild about wildlife? If so, this workshop might be for you! Idaho Fish and Game is hosting a 3-evening Project WILD workshop scheduled Tuesday, March 3rd, Wednesday, March 4th and Thursday, March 5th. All classes will be held from 4:30pm-9:30pm at the Lewiston regional office at 3316 16th street. Cost of the workshop is $35 without credit and $60-$75 including a continuing education credit from a local college or university.

Project WILD is an international program, which in Idaho is offered through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. At workshops, teachers learn ways to easily incorporate wildlife and ecological concepts into a subject they are already teaching. Wildlife is a tool that gets the kids excited about learning!

The goal of Project WILD is to assist learners of any age in the development of awareness, knowledge and skills towards responsible behavior and constructive action for wildlife and the environment. Educational activity guides provide information and projects on the following topics;

- the appreciation of wildlife

- human values and wildlife

- wildlife and ecological systems

- wildlife conservation

- cultural and social interaction with wildlife

- wildlife issues and trends

- wildlife and responsible human actions

Each activity in the book includes a statement of the instructional objectives, a description of the instructional methods employed, background information for instructors and lists of any materials needed. The Lewiston workshop date is approaching fast! For more information or to register contact Jen Bruns (208) 799-5010 or e-mail jennifer.bruns@idfg.idaho.gov.

Volunteers Needed to Plant for Wildlife

Idaho Fish and Game is looking for volunteers to plant thousands of sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings during March at several locations across southern Idaho.

Volunteer planting projects begin on Saturday, March 7th 2015. Subsequent planting efforts will be conducted on March 14, 21 and 28, with transportation and planting tools provided.

Sites to be planted include the area burned in the 2013 Hilltop Fire near E. Highland Valley Rd., the Highland Alley Fire near the U.S. Forest Service Nursery at Lucky Peak Reservoir and the Little Sage Hen Flat area which burned in the 2013 Pony Fire off Highway 20 near Mountain Home.

For more information regarding the planting project or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Fish and Game, contact volunteer coordinator Michael Young at 327-7095 or via e-mail at swregionvolunteercoordinators@gmail.com. Volunteer information is also available on the agency's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/volunteer/.

Ready to volunteer? Go to this web address: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1yMTMuk9-yGltiEFaAEpDK4IEPLczG9_rrSFe8OQ... and sign up!

Volunteers have planted nearly three quarters of a million bitterbrush and sagebrush seedlings during the past 24 years to restore native bitterbrush and sagebrush habitats in Southwest Idaho. In addition to saving the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars, volunteers have restored hundreds of acres of winter range.

River Otter Season Closed in the Clearwater Region

The river otter harvest quota of 20 otters for the Clearwater Region was reached at 9:30am PST on Monday, February 23, 2015. The otter season for the entire region closes 72 hours after the harvest quota has been met. As a result, the otter season for the entire region will close at 9:30am PST on Thursday, February 26th, 2015.

Trappers will be allowed to keep otters trapped within this period provided their personal quota of two has not been reached. Any otters trapped in the Clearwater Region after 9:30am on February 26th, must be surrendered to the Department for a $10.00 reward.

Bluebirds Arriving Soon, Nest Boxes Again Available From IDFG

-By Phil Cooper/Panhandle Regional Conservation Educator

Two species of bluebirds live in Idaho: the western bluebird and the mountain bluebird. The mountain bluebird is the Idaho state bird. Mountain bluebirds are larger than western bluebirds and both species are slightly smaller than robins.

Thoreau said, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back". This statement could apply to any of the N. American bluebird species. The males of each species sport brilliantly colored blue backs. The male mountain bluebird has a very bright blue back and is pale blue below. The female is mostly gray with a trace of blue on the wings and tail. The western bluebird is just slightly less brightly colored. Males and females of both species have some rust color on the breast.

Bluebirds live throughout Idaho in high desert juniper and mahogany, in forest meadows, and in valleys and on ridges in more mountainous regions of the state. They are most common at elevations of 4,000 feet and higher.

Bluebirds are ground feeders with grasshoppers being a favorite food. They also consume beetles, ants, wasps, caterpillars, crickets and even some berries.

The bluebird's bill is not suited for creating nest cavities, so they make their nests in existing cavities excavated by woodpeckers or other animals. Nests are lined with grass, fine strips of bark and pine needles.

Bluebirds return to Idaho from their wintering grounds in the southwestern U.S. by late February or early March. Upon returning, they seek tree cavities for nesting. Since many trees with suitable nesting holes have been cut for firewood, cleared to make way for development or have been occupied by non-native starlings or house sparrows, some bluebirds do not nest because they do not find suitable homes.

Fisheries Chief Named as Deputy Director

Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore has named Ed Schriever as the department's new Deputy Director of Operations. Schriever has been an Idaho Fish and Game employee for 31 years. He started in 1984 as a fish culturist at the Grace Hatchery and moved up through the ranks serving seven years as the Clearwater Region's Fisheries Manager before becoming Fisheries Bureau Chief in 2008.

In announcing the promotion, Director Moore praised Schriever's innovative talents.

"Under Ed's leadership, Fish and Game's Fisheries Bureau has implemented many innovative ideas and approaches that have improved overall operations and benefitted anglers," Director Moore said. "I look forward to putting those talents to work in my office to help us improve and streamline overall operations throughout the department."

Schriever will begin his new responsibilities on March 2. He replaces former Deputy Director Jim Unsworth who was recently named director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Help Shape Fishing Rules/Seasons for 2016-2018

Fisheries managers with Idaho Fish and Game are asking for input as they craft fishing seasons and rules for 2016 to 2018. Every three years, managers look at the current rules booklet closely and consider updates for future seasons. While the current seasons/rules booklet is valid through 2015, now is the time managers are considering suggestions for the next booklet, which will provide seasons and rules for the following three years.

Fisheries managers stress that when anglers offer ideas about how fishing can be improved, those ideas are considered carefully.

"We work for the people of Idaho and manage fish and wildlife on their behalf," said Program Coordinator Dave Parrish. "If we can adjust our management to make better fishing or more opportunities for the majority of Idaho citizens and sustain our resources - we all benefit."

Parrish points to slot limits on the Boise River, catch-and-release rules on Silver Creek and special rules on the Selway River as just a few examples of how public input has influenced management decisions.

A series of meetings and open-houses is in progress. For a list of upcoming meetings in your region, go to:

https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/article/public-meetings-for-2016-2....

Attendees can also learn the latest forecast information for the upcoming Chinook salmon season, and provide input regarding salmon seasons and limits.

Fish and Game is also taking comments through the internet. To comment online, go to:

https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/webform/public-comment-opportunity....

Fish and Game Seeks Comments on Two Year Season-Setting Cycle

Idaho Fish and Game is proposing to convert the big game season-setting process to a two year cycle for white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, black bears, mountain lions, and gray wolves. Fish and Game has been setting moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat seasons, and upland game seasons, on a two year cycle for more than 20 years, and now sets fishing seasons for a three year period.

The current annual season-setting process commences in December each year with the development of proposals that are scoped with the public and further refined based on input received prior to final commission action in mid-March.

Year-to-year changes tend to be relatively minor. A two year season cycle would provide greater stability in seasons and allow staff to engage the public in a variety of forums over a longer period of time. A two-year season cycle would benefit families and individuals who need to schedule vacation time well in advance by providing greater certainty on hunting season dates and allow greater time for planning. The change may also reduce regulation printing costs.

Staff would continue to monitor harvest and big game population objectives annually and provide the Fish and Game Commission status updates every year. In non-season setting years, staff would have more time to focus on extra monitoring and management activities. If necessary due to fire, bad winter weather, a disease event or other factors, managers could still make season changes and adjust controlled hunt tag numbers to respond to those types of emergencies should they occur in an off year.

Fish and Game is asking for public input about the proposed change, and comments will be considered in development of final recommendations that will be submitted to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration and action at their meeting on March 24th.

Apply Now for Wild Turkey Spring Controlled Hunts

The deadline to apply for spring controlled hunts for wild turkey is rapidly approaching. Hunters entering the drawing for spring turkey must submit their applications by March 1. The spring and fall controlled hunt permits are valid only for specific areas and seasons as designated by hunt number (see pages 30 - 31 in the seasons/rules booklet). Turkey hunters must have a spring controlled hunt permit and a valid tag to hunt in a spring controlled hunt. Hunters may only harvest one bird per controlled hunt permit.

Another mild winter will likely result in strong populations as winter survival should be high. Regional wildlife managers are compiling information for a season forecast, which will be available on Fish and Game's website in time for the spring season.

Hunter, Bowhunter Education Instructors Needed

Idaho's hunter education program is looking for new volunteer instructors to teach courses to the newest generation of hunters. Fish and Game works to graduate new hunters who practice safe firearm handling; and are knowledgeable about hunting laws and ethics, wildlife identification, conservation and management.

"The backbone of Idaho's hunter education training effort rests on the volunteer instructors, who give their time, passion and energy to the program," said Brenda Beckley, Fish and Game's Hunter Education Program Coordinator. "Our goal of recruiting new instructors is to help lighten the load on our current volunteers and to provide additional classes needed to satisfy student demand."

Fish and Game often hosts orientation meetings where the instructor certification process is explained, as well as how to organize classes, select meeting sites, how to order supplies and register students. Participants will also learn how to use lesson plans and how to employ effective teaching techniques in the classroom and at the rifle range.

In 2014, approximately 12,000 students completed the state's hunter and bowhunter education courses. The courses are offered throughout the state, on weekends and weekday evenings, and are taught by 1,200 certified instructors who volunteer their time.

Learn more about the program and how to become a hunter education or a bowhunter education instructor by contacting your regional Fish and Game office today.

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/?getPage=52.

IFWF Solicits Applications for 2015 Grants

The Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation is accepting applications for its 2015 grants cycle. The grants program provides funding on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and tax-exempt organizations for projects that sustain, restore or enhance understanding of Idaho's fish and wildlife resources. The Foundation is especially interested in projects that align with the Foundation's mission. Grants of as much as $5,000 per project are available.

To qualify for grant support, projects generally address one or more of the following areas:

- Habitat Conservation: Projects that aid in the protection, restoration or improvement of habitats.

- Fish and Wildlife Management: Projects that apply management principles to protect or enhance fish and wildlife.

- Education and Outreach: Projects that help educate Idahoans of all ages about the state's wildlife resources.

Application forms are available on the Foundation's website at www.IFWF.org. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2015. Recipients who qualify for funding will be notified and announced by August 31, 2015.

Ask Fish & Game: Fish Stocking

Q: How many fish were stocked in the entire state by Idaho Fish and Game in 2014?

A: In 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game was directly involved in the stocking of more than 32,000,000 fish! Fish species stocked include both native and non-native trout/salmon species (rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, lake trout, etc.) as well as non-native cool and warm water species (like bass, catfish, etc.). If you want to learn about when and where we stock fish, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/stocking.

Construction Temporarily Closes Caldwell Ponds Access

Public access to Pond Road and the Caldwell Ponds off of State Highway 26 will remain unavailable through at least the first of April due to a Caldwell City construction project. The good news for anglers is an alternative route to the popular fishing ponds is available.

For those anglers not aware of the southern approach to the ponds, it is off of Centennial Way on Chicago Street, adjacent to Centennial Park. Travel across the Boise River, bear left at the junction, traveling around Rotary Pond, then bear left again at the fork, traveling west to Pond Road. A right turn on Pond Road will take anglers north to Caldwell Ponds.