Press Release

September 2015

Waterfowl youth hunts coming soon

Young hunters who want an early shot at a duck or goose may participate in the youth waterfowl hunt on September 26 and 27 in Area 1, and October 3 and 4 in the rest of the state.

The youth waterfowl hunt is for licensed hunters 15 years of age and younger, and the seasons for ducks, geese, snipe and coots are open for two days only. Daily and possession limits are the same as limits in effect during the regular seasons.

Area 1 includes all of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, including private in-holdings; Bannock County; Bingham County, except that portion within the Blackfoot Reservoir drainage; Caribou County within the Fort Hall Indian Reservation; and Power County east of State Highway 37 and State Highway 39.

Youth hunters must have a 2015 Idaho hunting license and a Federal Migratory (HIP) Permit. A federal duck stamp is not required for hunters 15 and under. At least one adult 18 years old or older with a valid hunting license, must accompany each youth hunting party into the field during the hunt. Adults are not allowed to hunt.

All other state and federal migratory game bird hunting rules and regulations still apply. Please see the 2015 Waterfowl Seasons and Rules brochure available at hunting license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=66.

Sharp-tailed grouse season opens October 1

The sharp-tailed grouse season opens October 1 and runs through October 31, with a daily bag limit of two birds and a possession limit of six.

The season is open only in eastern Idaho in these areas: Bingham and Clark counties east of Interstate 15, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson County east of Interstate 15, Madison, and Teton counties, Bonneville County east of Interstate 15, Bannock County east of Interstate 15 and south of Interstate 86, Bear Lake, Caribou, Cassia County east of Interstate 84 and that portion west of Interstate 84 south of the Malta-Sublette Road and east of the Malta-Strevell Road, Franklin, Oneida, and Power County south of Interstate 86.

Sharp-tailed grouse have been introduced into historical range in southern Twin Falls county and southeastern Owyhee County. Twin Falls County, Owyhee County and most of Cassia County are closed to the hunting of sharp-tailed grouse. Sharp-tailed grouse also occur around Split Butte area in Minidoka County. Hunting of sharp-tailed grouse is closed in Minidoka County.

Any person hunting sharp-tailed grouse must have in their possession a valid Idaho hunting license with a $4.74 sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit validation. The permit allows better monitoring of the harvest of this game bird. It is available at Fish and Game license vendors.

Because wings collected from harvested birds provide important biological information such as age and sex, hunters who see a wing barrel are asked to deposit one wing from each bird they harvest. Fish and Game also collects wings at check stations and through a mail-in wing survey.

Avoid bear conflicts: store food and garbage properly

As hunters venture into the woods this fall, Idaho Fish and Game is asking them to be mindful of their food and garbage.

The same cautions apply to campers and homeowners in bear country. Most bear complaints of nuisance bears happen in later summer and early fall when bears are traveling in search of food, packing on fat to make through the winter.

"It is important for hunters, campers and homeowners to be proactive so they don't attract bears," said Gregg Losinski, Fish and Game conservation educator. "Don't wait until it's a problem, because once bears become accustomed to an easy food source - they will return and conflicts will continue."

Unpleasant experiences with bears are mostly avoidable. Taking some simple, preventive measures and using good old fashioned common sense will go a long way towards minimizing bear conflicts this fall.

Hunters, campers and homeowners can help keep bears wild and avoid potential costly property damage by taking some simple precautions:

Ask Fish and Game: Duplicate licenses and tags

Q. lost my combination license and deer and elk tags that I purchased last week. Can I get them replaced, or do I have to buy a new license and tags?

A. Any local vendor or Fish and Game office can issue a duplicate license. However, lost tags, including deer and elk tags, can be replaced only at a Fish and Game office. Each duplicate item costs $7.25 for Idaho residents and $8.25 for nonresidents.

Disease Outbreaks in Deer Not Uncommon

Washington State University veterinary clinic staff confirmed area deer are infected with a common disease referred to as Epizootic hemorrhagic disease or EHD.

This disease, carried by a biting midge, must be carried through the insect vector to be passed on. It cannot be transmitted directly from one deer to another.

The term Ôepizootic' denotes a disease that is temporarily prevalent and widespread in an animal population. Since the initial outbreak of EHD in 1955, this disease has occurred primarily among white-tailed deer (O. virginianus), although occasionally in mule deer (O. hemionus) or pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana). Present in the United States for over 50 years, EHD has not caused significant long-term decreases in deer populations.

This disease occurs in most years in the Clearwater Region. "Some years it manifests itself more than others. It is typical to see more of an outbreak on hot and dry years. This has certainly been one of those years, says Clearwater Regional Supervisor, Jerome Hansen.

There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus either from the midge or from handling and eating venison. Cats and dogs do not contract EHD. Among livestock, only cattle have been documented to be clinically affected by EHD and then only very rarely with a very mild clinical course that lasts a few days with lethargy, low-grade fever and some loss of appetite.

Numerous reports have been made in the Grangeville, Harpster, Juliaetta/Kendrick , Troy/Deary, Whitebird and a other surrounding areas.

"There are still plenty of deer to hunt, but overall abundance could be affected locally," said Clearwater Wildlife Manager, George Pauley.

Bird hunters encouraged to submit wings

With sage and sharp-tailed grouse seasons opening soon, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking hunters to help gather grouse information by providing a fully feathered wing for each bird they harvest.

"The more information we have about hunters and birds harvested, the better we can manage the different species," said Bruce Ackerman, wildlife biologist at Fish and Game.

By examining the shape, condition, length and color patterns on wing feathers, biologists can determine the bird's sex and whether it was an adult or juvenile. If the bird was an adult female, biologists can even tell if she successfully produced chicks that year. In addition, the percentage of juveniles and adults wings collected can provide information on chick production rates. All of this information can help determine the status of various game bird populations and helps Fish and Game improve management of the species.

Sage grouse season opens Saturday, Sept. 19 in parts of Idaho, and sharp-tailed grouse hunting starts Oct. 1. See Fish and Game's upland game rules booklet for details, or go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov and look under the "Hunting" tab.

Hunters can provide their wings to Fish and Game in a variety of ways, one being by mail. Close to 3,000 hunters who hold a Sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit will receive a packet in the mail with specific directions and a pre-paid return envelope. Hunters, who did not receive a mail-wing envelope, can still participate by contacting their nearest Fish and Game office.

"We'd like the wings mailed back to us by November, and it's important that we know where the bird was harvested, date of harvest, days hunted, and number of hunters if hunting in a group," said Ackerman.

Living among bears in northern Idaho

Bears living in northern Idaho eat a variety of foods. However, huckleberries are typically one of the most important sources of calories for bears preparing to spend five or more months in winter dens. When huckleberry production is low, bears seek alternatives that sometimes lead them into trouble.

The availability of huckleberries in our area is so important to bears that it affects reproductive success. Breeding takes place in the spring, however, the fertilized egg does not implant until the fallÉand only implants when a sow bear has enough fat reserves to carry and later nurse cubs. In the absence of suitable energy reserves, the egg will not implant and the affected sow will not produce a cub that year.

Huckleberry abundance also affects bear hunting success and oddly enough impacts road kill numbers. In years where huckleberries are plentiful, bears do not travel as much as they do when the crop is slight. More travel exposes bears to more risk. They cross more roads and are hit in greater numbers by vehicles. The likelihood they will be detected by hunters increases when their travels increase, so bear harvest goes up.

Higher harvest and lower reproductive rates in times of food scarcity are not all that bad. Limited food reserves are spread out among fewer bears when some are taken from the population. However, another tendency in times of low food supplies can be really problematic. When bears travel more, contact with people, homes and campsites increases.

Coho salmon season ends September 18

The second-ever season for coho salmon in Idaho will end Friday, September 18 in the mainstem Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and North Fork Clearwater rivers. Fishing will close at midnight.

Based on fish counts and tag detections at Columbia River dams, the estimated number of adult coho salmon returning to the Clearwater River is far less than the preseason forecast. The coho return to the Clearwater River will likely be less than what is required for hatchery broodstock and none will be available for harvest.

This new fishery resulted from the work of the Nez Perce Tribe which initiated a coho salmon hatchery program to restore coho to the Clearwater River basin. Last year, over 18,000 coho passed over Lower Granite Dam, with the previous high around 5,000 fish. As of Monday, September 14, only 9 coho have crossed Lower Granite Dam.

Fall is second fishing season for Idaho's reservoirs

With summer winding down, some anglers might assume Idaho's reservoirs are past their prime for fishing. There's still great opportunity for trout fishing during fall in many Idaho reservoirs, and Idaho Fish and Game will continue stocking them with larger rainbow trout in September and October.

Most reservoirs are open year round to fishing, but they are typically most popular in the spring when reservoirs are at the highest water level of the year and water temperatures perfect for trout and other game fish.

During summer, reservoirs warm and catch rates often slow, especially for trout. Reservoirs used for irrigation are lowered during summer, and some become difficult for boat launching and shore angling. But many reservoirs remain easily accessible and excellent fisheries when the water cools in the fall, and trout become active and feed aggressively in preparation for winter.

As a bonus, anglers have the chance to catch larger trout. Trout stocked during spring had all summer to grow, and growth rates of _ to 1-inch per month are common, so most of those fish are now in the 13-inch to 16-inch range.

Fish and Game is shifting its usual trout stocking away from the traditional 10-inch rainbows and letting them grow in hatcheries to about 12 inches before releasing them into reservoirs. The department has found larger trout survive better and are 65 percent more likely to get caught than the traditional 10 inchers.

"That was the driver for us to make the change at many of our waters," Fish and Game's senior fisheries research biologist John Cassinelli said. "We had to reduce the number of fish to offset the cost and space requirements, but in the end, even with the reduced production, we are seeing a greater number of fish returned to anglers, and they are bigger."

Chukar, Quail and Partridge Seasons Open Saturday

Saturday, September 19 marks the opening day for Idaho's chukar, quail and gray partridge hunting seasons.

Hunters need only a valid 2015 hunting license to hunt chukar, quail, and gray partridge.

Chukar and gray partridge seasons run through January 31, 2016 throughout the state. The daily bag limit is eight chukar and eight gray partridge, and the possession limit is 24 chukar and 24 gray partridge.

Chukar were introduced into Idaho from Asia. They are common in suitable habitat along the Salmon, Snake and Boise rivers, and along other river drainages of southern and central Idaho up to an elevation of about 5,000 feet. Chukar habitat consists of steep, rocky canyons with grassy and brushy vegetation.

Gray partridge, also introduced in Idaho, are widely distributed and can be found in agricultural regions, as well as in sagebrush-grassland areas. They are hardy birds able to withstand severe winter weather if adequate food is available.

Bobwhite and California quail seasons in Area 1 in north and western Idaho run through January 31. The daily bag limit is 10 total, and the possession limit is 30 total. Area 2 in east-central and eastern Idaho is closed.

A season forecast for upland game birds can be found under the Features section on Fish and Game's website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=326.

Sage-grouse season opens Saturday

The seven-day sage-grouse season opens Saturday, September 19, and runs through Friday, September 25, with a one-bird daily limit and a two-bird possession limit.

The season will take place in the same areas as last year's hunt with the exception of re-opening an area in eastern Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County.

Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in possession a valid Idaho hunting license with a sage sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $4.75.

Hunters should be aware that sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse occur in the same areas in south-central and eastern Idaho. Hunting season for these species do not overlap. The sharp-tailed grouse hunting season is October 1 to 31.

Although sage-grouse are proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, sage-grouse experts have determined that carefully regulated hunting is not a primary threat to populations. Threats to sage-grouse are largely due to habitat loss from wildfire, human infrastructure, and invasive plants like cheat grass.

Current sage-grouse lek data indicate that many populations are stable to increasing. Fish and Game closely monitors sage-grouse annually to ensure hunting will not compromise the population. Fish and Game follows guidelines that allow the flexibility to also close areas to hunting due to low population numbers, insufficient data, or impacts of wildfire and West Nile virus.

This native grouse is widely distributed in areas with large blocks of sagebrush habitat throughout southern Idaho. Sagebrush is a crucial winter food for sage-grouse and also provides them with nesting and roosting cover during the rest of the year. Wet places, including agricultural lands, are important feeding areas for hens with chicks and are heavily used by sage-grouse during the fall in dry years.

Stopping poachers is just a phone call away

Hunting seasons are finally here, and the Idaho Fish and Game reminds people who spend time outdoors that they should reach for a phone whenever they witness a violation of fish and game laws.

Callers to the Citizens Against Poaching hotline, 1-800-632-5999, can report wildlife law violations anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cash rewards are available to callers who provide information leading to the citation of suspected wildlife law violators.

"Many sportsmen help us solve cases regardless of the reward," said Assistant Enforcement Bureau Chief Chris Wright. "But it is a good added incentive for some people."

Rewards are: $200 for birds, fish and general violations; $300 for most big game animals; $600 for trophy species such as sheep, goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, these amounts can be higher.

Citizens who report a wildlife violation are encouraged to note as complete a description as possible of people and vehicles involved as well as report it as quickly as possible.

"License numbers are extremely useful as well as specific information such as exact location and time," said Wright. "The more detailed information you provide and the quicker you report it, the more likely a poacher will get caught."

Persons with any information about suspected poaching activity are encouraged to call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999, contact the local Fish and Game office, or report online http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/CAP.