Press Release

August 2015

Steelhead, fall chinook and coho fishing seasons open today

Three fishing seasons open Sept. 1 and more ocean-fresh fish are arriving daily to Idaho. Harvest season for steelhead opens Sept. 1 in the Snake, Salmon and Lower Clearwater rivers. Harvest for fall chinook opens in the Snake, Clearwater, and a short section of the Lower Salmon, and coho opens in the Clearwater, North Fork of the Clearwater and Middle Fork of the Clearwater rivers. See Idaho Fish and Game's rules brochures online at for boundaries and other rules. Fall chinook is the big news this year with a large run expected to return to Idaho and provide excellent fishing in September. It's still early in the run for fall chinook, but early returns are among the best in the last 30 years, according to Idaho Fish and Game's Clearwater Region Fisheries Manager Joe DuPont. "Warm water is not slowing them down," Dupont said. Fish and Game predicts about 40,000 fall chinook will return to Idaho, which would be the third-largest return dating back to 1975. Through Aug. 31, 2,827 fall chinook have crossed Lower Granite Dam, which is the last dam the fish cross before reaching Idaho. That compares with 1,885 for the same date last year, and 1,157 for the 10-year average. DuPont pointed out that more than 65,000 chinook crossed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River in the last five days, so the bulk of the run is now entering the river. Although many of those fish will stay in the Columbia, those bound for Idaho usually get here in about 10 days. He recommends anglers take advantage of the chinook run in September. The fish are arriving into Idaho by the hundreds daily, and soon to be the thousands, and they typically congregate around the mouth of the Clearwater River in September because it's pumping out cooler water. The fish are large, upwards of 35 pounds, and unlike spring and summer chinook, fall fish spawn shortly after arriving in Idaho, so they're quality for eating degrades more quickly.

Further Information on August 31 Island Park Bear Attack

On the morning of Monday, August 31 an archery hunter on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in the vicinity of Yale Creek and north of Yale reported that he had been attacked by a grizzly bear with three cubs. The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital. The hunter reported that he was carrying bear spray and a .44 caliber revolver. The hunter first saw the bears when they were approximately 40 feet away from him. The attack happened very quickly. The bear bit the hunter's left hand so he could not access his bear spray. The hunter reported that he used his right hand to shoot at the bear five times from point blank range. In the case of such incidents involving attacks on humans by wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has a special cadre of professionals called the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) who are trained and equipped to rapidly respond to such situations. Seven WHART personnel traveled to the area of the incident to investigate and determine the condition of the bear. WHART personnel were able to locate the exact site of the attack because the hunter had marked the location on his GPS. An extensive search of the area by the team failed to locate any evidence that the bear involved in the attack had been killed or wounded. WHART personnel also found at the scene a partially covered deer that had been cached by a bear. It appeared the sow and cubs had been at the scene for some time. It is likely the adult bear was defending her young and the deer food source. The terrain, vegetation, and creek sounds were contributing factors to the incident because they prevented the hunter and bears from seeing and hearing each other.

Gibson Jack Trail Closed Due to Moose Conflicts

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest, in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be temporarily closing a portion of Trail #014 in the Gibson Jack area south of Pocatello effective immediately. The closed portion of the trail system includes the section of Gibson Jack Trail (#014) from the junction of the #022 motorized trail east to the junction of the Sterling Justice Trail. This action is in response to the recent conflict between a cow moose and a group of mountain bikers about a half a mile from the Gibson Jack Trailhead this past weekend. Five individuals on mountain bikes unintentionally encountered a cow moose and her calf on the morning of Saturday, August 28. Four of the riders escaped unharmed, but the fifth rider was unable to avoid the moose pair. The cow moose charged the fifth rider, and despite his efforts to escape, struck him several times with her front hooves. Fortunately, the biker's helmet sustained most of the damage. This is not the first report of conflicts with a moose and her calf in this area. Other incidents have been reported involving a defensive moose with her calf on the Gibson Jack trail system over the summer. Another moose and her two calves have been seen in the West Bench area of Pocatello, though Fish and Game is not aware of any reports of aggressive behavior. The decision to temporarily close a portion of the Gibson Jack Trail was made in the interest of public safety as well as the welfare of the cow moose and her calf.

IDFG Investigating Scene of Incident Involving Archery Hunter and Grizzly Bear in Island Park

An archery hunter was attacked by a sow grizzly bear while hunting in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in the vicinity of Yale Creek near Sawtell Peak Monday morning August 31. The archer sustained injuries to his hand and wrist, but hiked out under his own power and was transported by ambulance to Madison County Hospital in Rexburg. The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray but apparently couldn't access it when the attack occurred. He tried to shoot the bear several times with a .44 magnum revolver pistol at point-blank range. Idaho Department of Fish and Game personnel are heading to the area of the incident to access the situation and try and determine the condition of the grizzly, who the hunter says had three cubs with her. In the case of such incidents involving attacks on humans by wildlife, Fish and Game has a special cadre of professionals called the WHART Team (Wildlife Human Attack Response Team) trained and equipped to rapidly respond to such situations. Further information regarding the incident will be released as information becomes available.

Fire Danger Forces Temporary Closure of Access to Private Land Hunting Area

By Mark Rhodes, District Conservation Officer Since 2011, the Mica Bay Land Company and the Godde Family have been very generous to allow hunters to access about 22,000 acres of previously inaccessible private property near Coeur d'Alene. They initiated and entered into a public access program to allow hunting in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Hunters are required to sign a contract agreeing to certain rules, and to pick up a free permit at the Fish and Game office that allows individuals to access the property. This program is still ongoing, and our hope is to continue it for many years. However, the current fire danger has led the owners of the property to follow suit with other land managers and close the property to ALL human entry until the fire danger decreases. No more permits will be issued until there is a significant change in conditions and the decision is made to once again open the property to access. Permits have already been issued to some individuals. Those permits were issued before fire danger became extreme. Although the permit says that you are welcome to enter the property starting September 6th, that date is no longer accurate. The property will remain closed to ALL human entry until further notice. Fish and Game is currently attempting to contact everyone who has a current permit to notify them of the closure. Please reference the Idaho Fish and Game website for updates and status changes. Look under the "About Us" tab, on the "Panhandle Region" page. It will obviously take a very significant period of high moisture to change the current conditions. Nobody can predict when that will occur. Permit holders are asked to please be patient and respect the closure! Any human entry prior to the new opening will be considered a trespass and will be handled through the legal process.

Fish and Game Seeks Information on Pronghorn Poaching

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking the public's assistance in tracking down the person or persons responsible for using a vehicle to run down four pronghorn in an agricultural field west of Mud Lake, bordering the Idaho National Laboratory, south of State Highway 33. Three does and a fawn were killed. The incident occurred just after midnight on Thursday, August 27, 2015. An agricultural worker had noticed vehicle headlights in the field during the evening and notified Fish and Game when the animals were found dead the next day. A violation of this nature could result in a reward of up to $1,000 to the person providing information leading to apprehension of those responsible for this senseless waste of Idaho's wildlife. Anyone with information about this incident or any other poaching can anonymously call the 24-hour Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

Some elk hunters can exchange tags due to fire closures

Idaho Fish and Game is extending the deadline to exchange tags for some early elk hunts that are about to start, or have already started, in the Panhandle, Clearwater and McCall areas that have large land closures due to wildfires. Fish and Game will not refund tags, but hunters who bought the following tags have until Sept. 11 to decide if they want to keep their tags, exchange them for a different elk tag, or turn in their tags for a receipt they can redeem at no cost for another tag later this year. Tags can only be exchanged at regional offices, but hunters choosing the receipt option can redeem it for a tag at any Fish and Game license vendor. Elk tags eligible are: - Panhandle Zone A and B tags. - Lolo Zone A tags - Dworshak Zone A and B tags - Elk City Zone A and B tags. - McCall Zone A tag. Elk hunters who have the above tags and want a receipt can also mail their tags to any regional Fish and Game office, which must be postmarked by Sept. 11. After hunters get the receipt, they can redeem it for any general season elk tag, except elk zones where tag quotas are in place and the quota is already sold out. Some of the above hunts will have already opened by Sept.11, which typically means hunters would have to decide whether to exchange their tags prior to the beginning of the hunt. With large land closures affecting those hunts, Fish and Game officials wanted to allow those elk hunters as much time as possible to make informed decisions. Hunters still have the option of exchanging other tags at any Fish and Game regional office, but they must do so before their hunt starts. All hunters should consider that fire conditions can change quickly with favorable weather and forests can reopen. Fire season tends to taper off by mid-September and is usually over by mid-October when most any-weapon hunts start.

Today is the last day for discounted second general season tags

August 31 is the last day for hunters to purchase a second general season deer or elk tag at a discount price. During August, resident and nonresident hunters can buy remaining nonresident general season tags to be used as second tags for discounted prices of $199 for deer and $350 for elk. Starting tomorrow, September 1, the second tag prices will return to their regular price of $300 and $415. These prices do not include the $1.75 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 general season 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, or by calling 1-800-554-8685. For more information about the second tags, go to

10 tips for hunters during fire season

With hunting seasons starting and Idaho seeing some of its worst fires in decades, hunters should do their part to ensure they aren't contributing to the problem. Here are 10 things every hunter can do during fire season: 1. Plan ahead: Check your hunting area in advance of your hunt and see if there are fire closures or access restrictions due to fire danger. (The first is where wildfires are happening, the second is where land managers restrict access to prevent fires.) You can check Idaho Fish and Game's dedicated fire page at 2. Be patient: Most fires are typically extinguished or under control by October hunts. However, some archery, upland bird and other late-summer hunts are being affected. If you know fires are burning in your hunting area, you may want to delay your hunts, or choose another area. 3. Be careful with all fires: Whether a campfire, gas lantern, cook stove, barbecue, etc., all can quickly start fires in tinder-dry forests and deserts. Firefighting resources are stretched thin this year, so you don't want to add to the problem. Know the fire restrictions for the area you're hunting and abide by them. Even after rain or snow, forests can remain dry and flammable. 4. Be careful with vehicles and other motorized equipment: Parking vehicles on dry grass can ignite fires. Chainsaws, generators and other machines with gas engines can start fires. Use them wisely and within the rules of fire restrictions. 5. Be on the lookout for fires: If you spot a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 911. Hunters may want to carry a shovel and water jug in their vehicle and put out any campfires they see left unattended.

Hunters urged to act responsibly when hunting private land

Responsibility is an important attribute of ethical hunting and with many of Idaho's hunting seasons just getting started, Idaho Fish and Game urges hunters to be conscious of their actions and act responsibly when hunting private land. "We are fortunate that the majority of hunters are ethical and considerate to landowners. But each year, we deal with problems related to irresponsible hunter behavior," said Sal Palazzolo, private lands coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. Whatever the complaint, most circumstances boil down to a lack of common sense and lack of respect for both private property and wildlife. "Be the best ambassador of hunting that you can be," said Palazzolo. "Remember to always treat the landowner as you would like to be treated and treat their land as you would like yours to be treated." Below is a list of guidelines Fish and Game recommends for hunters to follow when hunting private land. - Always ask first. Plan to obtain permission whether the land that you would like to hunt is posted or not, as it is a courtesy and act of respect to the landowner. Be polite, friendly, and ask in advance. If your request is denied, be understanding and remain polite, whether or not the landowner explains the reason for the decision. - Always respect the rights of landowners. By always asking permission in advance and every time one hunts, hunters can adhere to the landowner's wishes. Many times this involves keeping safe distances from livestock and buildings, knowing the property boundaries and where not to hunt, closing gates, and keeping vehicles off dry, fire-prone vegetation or even muddy roads.

Hunt Idaho expo video now online

About 300 people, including dozens of Lewiston-area families learned all about big game hunting at the Idaho Fish and Game Clearwater Region's Hunt Idaho Expo held August 21-22 in Lewiston. Participants learned how to hunt, harvest, process, and prepare tasty meals with wild game meat. The Hunt Idaho Expo was sponsored by the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Watch the video at:

Ask Fish and Game: Migratory bird (HIP) permit

Q. A friend and I are planning to hunt doves this weekend, and he told me I needed a Migratory Bird HIP permit? What is a HIP permit? A. Anyone hunting mourning doves, sandhill crane, or waterfowl in Idaho must have a valid Idaho hunting license with Migratory Bird (HIP) permit. The HIP permit costs $1.75 for residents and $4.75 for nonresidents, and it is available at any license vendor. Information from the Migratory Bird HIP permit allows migratory game bird managers to estimate more accurately the annual harvest of waterfowl, shorebirds, and doves to gain a better understanding of bird populations and their management.