The Fish and Game Commission has approved seasons and rules for the earliest of Idaho's Chinook salmon fisheries. The rules are designed around four major objectives: - Providing protection of ESA (Endangered Species Act) listed fish - Providing harvest opportunity - Providing diversity of opportunity - Allow a flexible, adaptive and responsive approach to in-season changes The rules are based on a projected spring Chinook run size that is similar to 2014. As of March 28, workers had counted 1000 Chinook salmon at Bonneville Dam, the first of eight dams salmon pass on their journey to Idaho. While this number is the largest for the same date since 2004, it is a small fraction of the number of spring Chinook salmon expected in Idaho. The seasons and rules approved by the Commission are based on a projected sport harvest of approximately 11,700 adipose clipped Chinook salmon in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The Commission approved an April 25 opening date, with closures to be made as harvest dictates. In the Clearwater Basin, except for the South Fork Clearwater River, limits are set at four fish per day, only one of which may be an adult. The possession limit in these parts of the Clearwater River drainage will be twelve fish, only three of which may be adults. In the South Fork Clearwater, lower Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake River fisheries, anglers will be allowed to keep four fish per day, only two of which may be adults. The possession limit in these fisheries will be twelve fish, of which only six may be adults. The season limit will be 20 adult Chinook salmon for seasons prior to September 1. Adult Chinook salmon are defined as those 24 inches and longer.
Idaho's general season youth turkey hunt runs Wednesday, April 8 through Tuesday, April 14. Youth who are 10 to 15 years old on April 8 may participate in the general season youth hunt. All youth hunters must have a valid hunting license, and they must be accompanied by a licensed adult who is 18 years of age or older. Adults who accompany youth hunters must be within normal conversation or hearing range without shouting and without the aid of electronic devices. Youth ages 9 to 11 may purchase a junior hunting license and then purchase a turkey tag and/or apply for a controlled turkey hunt, but they may not hunt until they are 10 years of age. The general spring turkey hunts open April 15 and run through May 25. Dates vary for controlled hunts, which are listed in the Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure. The brochure is available at all Fish and Game offices, license vendors statewide and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.
The application period for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts opens this week. Applications for these hunts will be accepted April 1 through April 30. Anyone interested in applying for controlled hunts can apply at Fish and Game offices or license vendors with a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685. Internet users may apply through Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/licenses/fees/. The 2015 and 2016 Moose, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat Seasons and Rules brochure include changes in tag numbers and controlled hunt areas in response to population changes and past harvest success rates, and there are several new hunts being offered. To learn more, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=64.
To help get kids excited about fishing and help build a new generation of anglers, Idaho Fish and Game's "Take Me Fishing" trailers will soon be making appearances at fishing holes across the state. Wrapped with vibrant fish illustrations, the trailers are stocked with fishing information and basic fishing equipment that can be checked out for free on a first-come, first-served basis. Fish and Game staff will also be available to answer questions and help those new to the sport. People of any age, whether they are residents or non-residents, can fish without a license during the hours of the events if they sign in at the trailer. All other rules such as size limits and daily bag limits apply. Idaho children 13 years old and under can always fish for free. These events give any angler, youth or adult, the opportunity to try fishing without first buying a license or investing in equipment. For a list of scheduled events in your area, go to: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=80.
The Idaho Deer Alliance is offering additional reward money, hoping it will help find the poachers who killed a mature buck mule deer near the Deer Flat National Refuge in Caldwell, Idaho. All of the meat was left to waste after the poachers took only the head and antlers. Investigating officers from Idaho Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service say the deer was shot on March 9 or 10 across from a busy Caldwell park adjacent to the refuge. This area is closed to hunting, and there are no current seasons for mule deer open in any part of Idaho. Residents in the area reported seeing several large bucks prior to the poaching incident. The Idaho Deer Alliance is offering a $250 dollar reward in addition to funds already available through Citizens Against Poaching. Anyone with information on this case can call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999, the Fish and Game Nampa Office at 208-465-8465 or the Deer Flat Refuge at 208-467-9278. Callers may collect reward money while remaining anonymous.
When Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer Dennis Brandt watched a young man mishandle a steelhead, he saw an opportunity to educate and engage with anglers in a positive way. Officer Brandt was patrolling the Little Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho when he watched a young man fail to properly handle a steelhead before releasing it. According to a witness whose account was 1 in an outdoor blog, the fish was allowed to flop around in mud and rocks for several seconds before the angler grabbed it by the gills and threw it into the river. Experienced anglers know that releasing a fish should be done carefully. The fish should be revived before release, and one should never handle the gills. The nearby angler describes how Officer Brandt handled the situation: "He came down and very tactfully but firmly admonished the fellow for his careless handling of the fish." As luck would have it, that nearby angler hooked a nice steelhead himself, and according to his account, Officer Brandt surprised him a second time when he offered to take a photograph of the fish and email it to him. "When I got back to the motel and cranked up my laptop, there was Dennis' e-mail with the photo and a nice note thanking me for fishing Idaho waters," said the angler, explaining he lives in Washington State. "I was so impressed by Dennis' courtesy, professionalism and friendly demeanor that I sent an e-mail to his supervisor in McCall to let him know what a model CO he had working the Little Salmon River." Officer Brandt says he appreciates the praise, but is a bit puzzled by the angler's enthusiasm, since he was just doing what comes naturally in his daily duties.
Q: When will the new deer and elk regulations be out? A: The new 2015 and 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet will be available at Fish and Game offices and vendors by the end of April. It will also be posted to Fish and Game's website by mid-April.
That portion of the Egin-Hamer Closure Area that is south of the Egin-Hamer Road is scheduled to open at sunrise on April 1st. The area north of the road surrounding the dunes remains closed until sunrise on May 1st. Maps of the closure are available at the regional IDFG and BLM Offices in Idaho Falls. The closure is patrolled not only by law enforcement officers from BLM and IDFG, but also the Fremont County Sheriff's Department. Department staff are allowed as part of their administrative duties to enter the closure to carry out enforcement and scientific activities. Department staff and volunteers have already entered the area to observe sage grouse performing courtship displays on their mating leks. Survey crews under the direction of the BLM are also entering the closure. It is critical that in all areas that humans give wildlife a wide berth. Many animals are preparing to give birth to their young and it is important that energy reserves are maintained in the event late spring harsh weather occurs.
-By Phil Cooper/Panhandle Regional Conservation Educator A multi-agency Clark Fork River Delta Restoration Project is underway, and a large construction effort has been ongoing through the winter months. A project website now provides an opportunity for the public to follow progress of the project. The website is http://www.clarkforkdelta.org. The site features a new video that includes aerial footage of the work recently completed. Interviews with key project participants provide context and explain the goals of the partners in undertaking the project. The project will protect, improve and restore key riparian and wetland habitats and their ecological function in the Clark Fork River delta. Operations of the Albeni Falls Dam, Cabinet Gorge Dam and Noxon Rapids Dam have altered the hydrology of the Clark Fork River and Pend Oreille Lake. Wave action and fluctuating lake levels have resulted in extensive loss of soil and native riparian and wetland vegetation. Twelve to 15 acres of the delta's shorelines are lost each year from erosion. The quantity and quality of fish habitat and habitat complexity in the delta are also impacted by dam operations. The project is designed to mitigate these losses. Areas vulnerable to erosion are being stabilized with rock structures. Riparian and wetland habitat is being improved and diversified behind the new bank protection. New vegetation will soon be planted, and a weed management and monitoring effort will start in late April and continue throughout the summer. Conservation groups, school groups, and individuals in the community are invited to participate. Volunteers can sign-up for scheduled activities on the project website. The project is being conducted in phases over several years and involves about 1,200 acres. The Bonneville Power Administration and the Avista Corporation provided wildlife mitigation funding for the early phases of the project.
-By Jeffifer Jackson/Southeast Regional Conservation Educator How would you like to be a "WILD teacher"? A "WILD teacher" is one who has participated in a Project WILD workshop presented by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Participants learn about wildlife and discover fun and exciting ways to teach wildlife conservation and ecological concepts in the classroom. Plus, it is a great way to earn a credit through an Idaho university! Project WILD isnÕt just for the science educators. Even if you teach math, art, PE, or run the library at your school, there is something for you in Project WILD! WILD About Early Learners Imagine teaching about wildlife, habitat, and conservation to a class of 3-year olds! It can be done, especially if you have the right tools. If you are an educator who works with youth, Pre-K through 2nd grade, and you are looking for fun, innovative ideas for teaching about wildlife and wildlife conservation in the classroom, WILD About Early Learners is for you! This workshop will be held at the Fish and Game office in Pocatello located at 1345 Barton Road. The class will run from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm on Friday, April 17, and will continue from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 18. Workshop participants will receive three activity guides with over 150 wildlife-related activities, all of which are correlated to Idaho State Education standards. Participants will be exposed to modified Project WILD activities to fit the needs of a younger audience-- incorporating science, art, math, vocabulary, music and movement, home connections, and much more! Class fee is $40 plus $60-75 for the optional university credit. WILD About Bats Ð NEW!! Learn more about the worldÕs only flying mammals in the newest workshop to join the Project WILD family. This workshop will run June 17 and June 18 at the Pocatello Fish and Game office, with a field excursion scheduled off-site.
Chapter #145 of Pheasants Forever is holding its annual banquet, April 4, at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center in Fort Hall (Exit 80 off I-15). Doors open at 5:30 pm. Ticket and banquet information: Jason Beck, (208) 251-7438 or John Lambregts, (208) 552-9675. Bring the whole family for a fun night of great food, games, raffles, and an auction - all to benefit pheasants, habitat, and youth hunter programs in this region!
Nine snow geese were shot and wasted and Fish and Game Conservation Officers need your help. According to Senior Conservation Officer Lauren Lane, "The snow geese appear to have been shot within the last several days, and were left to waste in Fremont County near Teton and Newdale." The last snow goose seasons closed on March 10 in Idaho. If you have any information related to this incident, please call the Upper Snake Regional Fish and Game office at 208-525-7290. If you would like to remain anonymous, call Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999.
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