Press Release

July 2015

Fish and Game Seeks Comments on Waterfowl Seasons

Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the 2015-2016 waterfowl seasons.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees waterfowl management at the national level, authorized Fish and Game to hold a waterfowl season similar to the 2014-2015 season. Using that authorization as a framework, Idaho Fish and Game has proposed a 105-day season and a 2-day youth hunt, identical in length to last year's season.

For ducks and Canada geese, the 107 days can only occur between September 26, 2015 and January 31, 2016. For white-fronted geese and light geese (Snow and Ross's), the 107 days can only occur between September 26, 2015 and March 10, 2016.

To view and comment on the season proposals, visit Fish and Game's public involvement page at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement.

Waterfowl hunters may also provide their comments by attending one of several open house meetings throughout the state where they can speak directly with local biologists.

Open house meetings currently scheduled include:

- Lewiston - Tuesday, August 4 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Clearwater Region Fish and Game Office, 3316 16th Street.

- Jerome - Tuesday, August 4 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Magic Valley Region Fish and Game Office, 324 S 417 E, Suite 1.

- Pocatello - Monday, August 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Southeast Region Fish and Game Office, 1345 Barton Road.

If a meeting is not listed in your area, visit your nearest Fish and Game office where copies of the proposed seasons and comment forms are available. Written comments may be mailed to: 2015-16 Waterfowl Seasons, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. Comments will be collected through August 7.

Commission Releases Bighorn Tags for Auction and Lottery

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission released two 2016 bighorn sheep tags, one for lottery and one for auction, at its regular meeting in Pocatello Thursday, July 30.

The lottery tag was awarded to the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation and the auction tag was awarded to the Wild Sheep Foundation. Both organizations have a long track record of conservation projects and contributions to benefit bighorn sheep in Idaho. The two groups will market the 2016 tags as fund raisers with proceeds going to benefit Idaho Department of Fish and Game's bighorn sheep research and management.

Information on ticket sales for the 2016 bighorn lottery tag will be available at idahowildsheep.org.

This year, a hunter paid $100,000 in January for the Idaho 2015 auction tag at the national Wild Sheep show in Reno. The 2015 lottery tag was also drawn on Wednesday, and it raised $62,000 for sheep research and management.

Idaho's bighorn auction tag has sold for $100,000 or more five times since 1988, including a record $180,000 in 2005.

Since releasing the first auction tag in 1988, Fish and Game has received $1.8 million for bighorn research, a field of research in which Idaho has been a leader. The lottery tag, first released in 1992, has raised over $1.1 million to support solving problems between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep, and funding research to speed recovery of bighorn sheep populations limited by pneumonia. The groups auction the tag and selling lottery tickets keep only enough of the proceeds to cover their expenses - or no more than 5 percent of the money raised by the auction and no more than 25 percent raised by the lottery.

Commission Sets Bird Seasons, Adjusts Mountain Lion Season

Idaho bird hunters will get a liberal mourning dove season, more sandhill crane tags, and an early Canada goose season in southeastern Idaho this year. Hound hunters will also be allowed to use dogs to pursue mountain lions and black bears during November in some northern Idaho units.

On Thursday July 30, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the earliest and most liberal Mourning dove season allowed. The dove season will last 60 days, from September 1 through October 30. The daily bag limit will be 15 birds and the possession limit will be 45.

To stay at or below the Pacific Flyway harvest allocation of 166 Sandhill cranes, the commission approved increasing tags numbers to 290. Since 2009, when tags were made available on a first-come first-served basis, the harvest per tag purchased has averaged 48 percent.

The sandhill crane season will run September 1-15, with a daily and season limit of two birds. Tags go on sale August 1 at 10 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time and cost $15. Season information is available at Fish and Game offices and website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67, and will be available at license vendors in the Southeast and Upper Snake regions by early to mid-August.

An early Canada goose hunting season was also approved to address goose depredation issues in agricultural areas in Bear Lake, Caribou, and a portion of Bingham counties. The season will run September 1-15, with a daily bag limit of 5 and a possession limit of 15. Season information will be available at Fish and Game offices, website, and license vendors in the Southeast and Upper Snake regions by mid-August.

Discounted Second Tags Go On Sale Aug. 1

Idaho Fish and Game is offering a discount for big game hunters who want more hunting opportunity. Through August only, resident and nonresident hunters can buy remaining nonresident tags as second tags for discounted prices of $199 for deer and $350 for elk. The price does not include the $1.75 vendor fees.

After August, sale of nonresident tags used as second tags will increase to $300 and $415, excluding vendor fees.

Any hunter who has purchased a hunting license and a 2015 deer or elk tag at the regular resident or nonresident prices can buy a discounted second tag for the same species. Tags are sold on a first come, first served basis and supplies are limited to the available nonresident tag quota.

Tags are available at Fish and Game offices and license and tag vendors, online at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov, or by calling 1-800-554-8685.

Fish and Game sold discounted deer and elk tags last year as an incentive for hunters to buy the remaining quota of nonresident tags, but commissioners decided this year to limit the discount sale to August. The nonresident quota is 12,815 elk tags and 15,500 deer tags, and since 2008, a portion of the nonresident quota has gone unsold.

But Fish and Game has seen increased tag sales due in part to improved deer and elk hunting in Idaho and a better economy. Through July, sale of nonresident elk tags is up 25 percent over the same period last year, and up 14 percent for deer tags.

Fish and Game is forecasting better deer and elk hunting this year because of mild winters and excellent survival of deer and elk.

For the first time last year, Fish and Game commissioners allowed residents and nonresidents to buy at a discount the remaining nonresident tags as second tags, and it was popular.

Fish and Game to Host Angler Meeting to Discuss Management of Henrys Fork

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will host an informal open meeting to discuss how they manage the Henrys Fork.

The meeting will be held at Harriman State Park on August 13 at 6:30 p.m.

This is the final meeting of the summer dedicated to providing information on the management direction, the current status of fish populations and challenges Fish and Game faces in managing the exceptional fishery resources found in the Henrys Fork.

Fish and Game has held three other meetings over the summer, focusing on other popular fisheries such as Salmon fishing on the Salmon River, Henrys Lake and the South Fork Snake River.

The intent of these meetings is to share information and to answer questions from the public. The department believes that a well-informed and engaged public is critical to ensure management direction aligns with public expectation, and these meetings have proven to be a good avenue to meet this intent.

Please join Fish and Game at Harriman on August 13 at 6:30 p.m. for an enjoyable and educational evening.

If you have questions about this event or require assistance to attend, contact Dan Garren, Regional Fisheries Manager at 208-525-7290, dan.garren@idfg.idaho.gov, or through the Idaho Relay Service at 1-800-377-3529 (TDD)

Please consider purchasing a State Park pass before entering the park.

Hagerman WMA Ponds Placed on Fish Salvage

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission has issued a salvage order on Hagerman Wildlife Management Area's, Anderson Pond #3, Anderson Pond #4, and Riley Pond.

Anglers can keep all the fish they wish in these three ponds, with the exception of White Sturgeon. Fish may be taken by any method except firearms, explosives, chemicals, or electric current effective July 31 through September 30, 2015. A valid fishing license is required to salvage fish.

White Sturgeon may not be harvested during the salvage effort. There is no legal way to be in possession of a White Sturgeon in Idaho unless legally purchased from a commercial fish production facility. The IDFG will make every effort to capture and transplant sturgeon prior to the treatment.

These ponds are scheduled for chemical treatment to remove common carp from the ponds to eliminate competition with largemouth bass, bluegill, and hatchery stocked rainbow trout.

The Ponds area being drawn down now to minimize the amount of water that needs to be chemically treated, and to assure a complete treatment.

The treatment, scheduled for early September, is part of a 5-year effort to restore the fisheries to what they were before being overrun by common carp. Idaho Fish and Game will restock the ponds with Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in late 2015 or early 2016.

For more information, call 324-4359.

Sockeye arrives at Stanley, IDFG has safeguards to ensure survival

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The first sockeye salmon reached the Sawtooth Basin near Stanley on Monday, July 27 despite hot weather and warm water that prompted Idaho Fish and Game biologists to capture fish downstream to ensure survival of one of Idaho's most endangered species.

Tens of thousands of sockeye have died in the Columbia River. Most were likely headed to Central Washington, but during July, Fish and Game personnel trapped and trucked 37 sockeye from the Snake River at Lower Granite Dam to the Eagle Hatchery near Boise. High river temperatures were dangerous to the migrating fish, and the captured sockeye will be held in Eagle until they are ready to spawn in the fall. Many other sockeye remaining in the rivers face an uncertain future.

"It's a tough year for all anadromous fish, including sockeye," Fish and Game's Senior Sockeye Research Biologist Mike Peterson said.

Biologists are concerned high water temperatures in rivers will stall, and kill, some sockeye before they arrive to their spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Basin.

Through July 27, 368 sockeye were counted at Lower Granite Dam about 30 miles from Lewiston. Biologists fear only a fraction of those will make it to the Sawtooth Basin, where some are trapped and taken to hatcheries while others are allowed to spawn in their namesake - Redfish Lake.

Trapping and transporting sockeye is one of many safeguards Fish and Game implemented to restore the most southern sockeye population in the world and a unique fish that swims 900 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 6,500-feet elevation to Central Idaho's mountains.

Summer Chinook fishing to close on most rivers

Most of Idaho's summer Chinook salmon fishing seasons are coming to a close Sunday, August 2.

Idaho Fish and Game will close fishing for spring/summer Chinook salmon on the mainstem Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater, Lochsa, Snake, and a section of the upper Salmon River from the Copper Mine to a posted boundary upstream of the mouth of Valley Creek near Stanley at the end of fishing hours on August 2 (9 p.m. Pacific Time and 10 p.m. Mountain Time).

Harvest of jack Chinook salmon (those under 24 inches) will continue on the upper Salmon River from the posted boundary upstream of Valley Creek upstream to the posted boundary about 100 yards downstream of the weir at Sawtooth Hatchery. This section will close to salmon fishing at 10 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, August 9.

The Chinook salmon fishing season continues on the Boise River through September 30. The daily limit is two salmon, regardless of size. Fishing is permitted 24 hours a day and barbless hooks are not required.

Southwest Idaho Rainbow Trout Stocking Schedule

Personnel from Fish and Game's McCall and Nampa Hatcheries will be releasing more than 29,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during August.

Location - Week Stocked - Number of Trout

Boise River, above Glenwood Bridge - August 3, 17 - 1,440/1,440

Boise River, below Glenwood Bridge - August 3, 17 - 720/720

Boise River, Middle Fork - August 17 - 2,000

Boise River, North Fork - August 10, 24 - 2,000/2,000

Browns (Airport) Pond (McCall) - August 10, 24 - 700/900

Bull Trout Lake (Grandjean) - August 17 - 900

Bull Trout Lake, Little #1 (Grandjean) - August 3 - 750

Bull Trout Lake, Little #2 (Grandjean) - August 3 - 200

Council (Ol' McDonald) Pond - August 24 - 500

Crooked River (Idaho City) - August 17 - 500

Fischer Pond (Cascade) - August 10, 24 - 750/750

Fish Lake (McCall) - August 31 - 1,500

Kimberland Meadows Pond (New Meadows) - August 3/31 - 500/500

Lowman (10-mile) Ponds - August 3 - 600

Marsing Pond - August 3 - 450

Martin Lake (Grandjean) - August 3 - 1,000

Northwest Passage Pond (McCall) - August 10, 24 - 375/375

Payette River, Middle Fork - August 17, 24 - 750/750

Rowlands (Scout) Pond (McCall) - August 3, 17, 31 - 750/750/750

Silver Creek (Crouch) - August 10, 24 - 750/750

Tripod Reservoir (Smiths Ferry) - August 10 - 1,000

Wilson Springs (Nampa) - August 3/10 - 250/250

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) - August 3/10 - 400/400

The number of trout actually released may be altered by weather, water conditions, equipment problems or schedule changes. If delays occur, trout will be stocked when conditions become favorable.

Steelhead Harvest Starts August 1 on Lower Clearwater River

Anglers have been catching and releasing steelhead on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July, but starting Aug. 1, they can take some home.

The steelhead harvest season opens on about a two-mile stretch of river from its mouth to the Highway 12-95 Bridge in Lewiston, also known as the Memorial Bridge.

Anglers can only keep steelhead with a clipped adipose fin. The limits are two per day, six in possession and 20 for the fall 2015 season in the Clearwater River drainage. Any steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed.

Anglers are reminded that this early catch-and-keep opportunity does not include the Snake River. The mouth of the Clearwater River is officially recognized as a line from a posted sign on the north bank due south to the westernmost point on the south bank.

Most of the remaining sections of the Clearwater River system are open to catch-and-release angling for steelhead, and harvest season opens in most of those sections on Oct. 15.

During summer and early fall, the majority of steelhead that cross Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River seem to be attracted to the cooler water of the lower Clearwater.

"These early fish are more than likely smaller A-run fish waiting to move up the Snake, Salmon, Grande Rhonde, and Imnaha rivers," said Sam Sharr, Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. Sharr expects a good steelhead run this year.

Fisheries managers are forecasting 129,000 A-run fish and 29,000 B-runs will return to Idaho this year, which is smaller than under last year's return of 133,000 and 33,000.

The Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers open to harvest September 1.

For exact fishing boundaries on rivers, opening and closing dates and other rules, anglers should consult the 2013-15 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules, or go to fishandgame.idaho.gov.

Hunters: Pick Up Your Controlled Hunt Tags by August 1

Big game hunters who were successful in drawing controlled hunt tags for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear have until midnight Mountain Daylight Time, Saturday, August 1 to buy their tags.

Applicants can find out if they drew a tag by checking the controlled hunt drawing results on the Idaho Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ch. Postcards were mailed to successful applicants by July 10. It is the responsibility of hunters to determine whether they were drawn. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified.

Controlled hunt tag not purchased by August 1, except unlimited tags, will be forfeited and made available in a second drawing. The application period for the second drawing runs from August 5 to 15th, with the drawing to be held around August 20. Any remaining tags leftover from the second drawing will be available first-come, first-served August 25 at 10 a.m. Mountain Time.

Hunters can buy their tags at any Fish and Game office, license vendor, by telephone at 800-554-8685, or online from Fish and Game's website. For information on rules and dates for specific hunts, consult the current seasons and rules brochure or the Fish and Game Website.

Commission to Meet in Pocatello this Week

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet this week at Fish and Game's Southeast Regional office, 1345 Barton Road in Pocatello.

A public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 29. Anyone who wants 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 meeting.

On Thursday, July 30, the commission will consider rules for all game animals; nonresident deer and elk tag quotas; nonresident deer and elk tag outfitter set-aside; release of bighorn sheep tags for auction and lottery; expenditure of animal damage control funds; legislative proposals as well as a migratory game birds briefing. Commissioners also will consider proposed seasons for mourning doves, Sandhill crane, fall Chinook salmon, and a proposal to approve the Department's Columbian sharp-tailed grouse management plan.

For a complete agenda, see the Fish and Game website at click on the "About Us" tab. Here's the link: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/?getPage=184. Times on the agenda are approximate and subject to change.

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).