Ten elk died yesterday after eating Japanese Yew in the Hailey Cemetery; later that night a lone cow elk fell in a window well and was trapped in a resident's basement, and other elk continue to be hit and killed on roadways. "It is one of those years, we have a lot of elk and we have our first normal snow levels in the past five years and elk are being pushed into the valley and getting into trouble," said Daryl Meints, Magic Valley Fish and Game Regional Wildlife Manager. "The best thing for people to do, is slow down when driving, when you have elk in your backyard give them a wide berth and don't push them, and if you have a problem call Fish and Game or local city police or the county sheriff." At the cemetery, city maintenance handled the problem quickly by removing all the Japanese Yew from the grounds. "Japanese Yew is known to be extremely toxic," said Meints. "This has happened before in the Wood River Valley and other places around the state to both elk and moose." Fish and Game officers removed the dead elk from the cemetery to dispose of the carcasses. At about 2 am, a home owner just outside the Hailey city limits was awakened when a cow elk fell in a window well, breaking the window and ending up in a basement bedroom. Blaine County Sheriff and Idaho Fish and Game officers were able to drive the bewildered elk up the basement stairs to freedom. "It took us about 2.5 hours, but we got her out uninjured," said Alex Head, Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer. "The basement will need a good, deep cleaning, but we are glad it worked out as well as it did." Idaho Fish and Game are keeping a close eye on the situation for all wildlife in the Wood River area and other places around the region. People having problems with winter wildlife can call the Idaho Fish and Game Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for public input on the 10-year revision of the Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan. Fish and Game officials are interested in tapping local knowledge and experience to improve Idaho's plan.
When completed, the Action Plan is intended to conserve fish and wildlife by helping landowners, resource-based industries, and land management agencies choose programs and on-the-ground activities that benefit those species that need the most help. All guidance, strategies, and actions suggested in the Action Plan are voluntary and will help prevent future endangered species listings.
The Action Plan describes key conservation targets (fish and wildlife species and their habitats), threats to those targets such as noxious weeds and wildfire, and recommended actions to address the threats.
Please submit your input by going online to the Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan page on Fish and Game's website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/swap.
The deadline for submitting comments goes through January 20, 2016.
All public input will be reviewed, and as appropriate, will be incorporated into the draft plan. Comments will also be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for their consideration prior to submitting the draft to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for review and approval.
Idaho's State Wildlife Action Plan is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and US territories. It falls under the umbrella of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (SWG) Program. Created in 2000, the SWG program provides funding for the conservation of wildlife diversity in the US states and territories, and Idaho currently receives approximately $550,000 annually through this program.
Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 2,500 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during January.
LOCATION WEEK STOCKED NUMBER OF TROUT
Marsing Pond January 4 450
Wilson Springs (Nampa) January 4 250
Wilson Springs (Nampa) January 18 250
Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) January 4 400
Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) January 11 400
Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) January 18 400
Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) January 25 400
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.
By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game Public Information Specialist
Waterfowl bands have a special place in waterfowl hunting. They're not ducks playing music, waterfowl bands are part of a long-running project where wildlife managers trap waterfowl, usually during late summer, and place small metal bands on the legs of ducks and geese to track migrations and populations.
As those banded birds migrate, they are frequently shot by hunters or eventually found dead from other causes, and the information on the band is relayed back to the U.S. Geological Survey and entered into a database. If you've shot a duck or goose with a band, you should report it by going to reportband.gov. After reporting, you will receive a certificate of appreciation that includes where the bird was banded and how old it was at the time of banding.
If you're curious where ducks and geese are banded in Idaho, and where banded birds are shot or otherwise found, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/seasons/waterfowl and scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link.
The map on the website is interactive, so you can click on the location of the individual birds and tell where and when the birds were shot or found. The map also shows the location of where birds are banded, and the database goes all the way back to 1914. For example, you can see a mallard banded in September, 1914 at Utah's Salt Lake was recovered (presumably by a hunter) near Lava Hot Springs in January 1915. You can also sort the database by bird species.
The information bands provide has been used in North America from present through the early 1900s, but bird banding dates back to the late 1500s in Europe.
By Phil Cooper, Panhandle Region Conservation Educator
When a moose shows up in your yard, give it space. Take photos through the window to capture the momentÉit may never happen again.
Don't approach the moose, as your presence could agitate it. The moose will likely leave shortly after giving you a free tree pruning.
Moose are the largest members of the deer family. Adult males (bulls) can weigh up to 1000 pounds and stand about six feet at the shoulder. For their size they are incredibly fast and agile.
Moose vary in color from light brown to black. They have a large head and long snout that makes them look somewhat unique and easy to identify.
They occupy various habitats throughout the state, from the thick conifer forest of northern Idaho to the sagebrush of southern Idaho. A very large body mass enables moose to stay at high elevations in extremely deep snow when deer and elk must migrate to lower elevations.
Although moose can live in any weather conditions found in Idaho, it is not at all unusual for a moose to wander into a town or residential area. Ornamental trees and shrubs are tasty treats to a moose, just as ice cream is to a person.
When a person heads to an ice cream shop, it isn't because there is no food whatsoever at home. People go to the ice cream shop because a cone tastes good. When a moose wanders into town, it doesn't mean that there is no food out in the wild. They wander into town because there is tasty food there that is easy to access. Unlike deer and elk, moose are not particularly wary of people.
When a moose comes into town or a residential neighborhood, it will typically hang around for a few days and then move on. Depending upon the person who sees the moose, it can bring excitement and joy; or, it can cause concern and fear.
Before heading out in the New Year, Idaho hunters and anglers are reminded to pick up a 2016 license.
Nearly all of Idaho's hunting and fishing licenses, tags, and permits are sold on a calendar year basis, and they expire December 31.
The only licenses or permit not sold on a calendar year basis are Idaho's trapping license and Federal duck stamp. Both are valid from July 1 through the following June 30. This is because the seasons generally begin in the fall and end in the late winter.
An annual Idaho resident adult hunting licenses cost $12.75 and fishing licenses cost $25.75. Junior and senior licenses cost even less. Another option is a three-year license available for junior, adults and seniors, which saves a little money and time standing in line.
Licenses are available at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, by phone at 1-800-554-8685, or on-line at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/. There is an additional service fee for licenses purchased online. Licenses for disabled hunters and anglers are only available at Fish and Game offices.
If you forget to buy a license before heading out, you can even purchase one with your smart phone.
Log into Fish and Game's website and go to the license page. From there, you will need to enter your required information. If you're an Idaho resident with a valid driver's license, the system will match your data to your driver's license to confirm your residency.
Next you will need to enter your credit card information, and after it's accepted, you will have a valid license. Mobile users must have Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox to download their license.
For some anglers, the best thing about New Year's is the start of the spring steelhead season, which opens January 1.
Anglers are reminded that they will need a 2016 fishing license and steelhead permit.
Spring steelhead season will open on the:
- Salmon River from its mouth to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir, near the town of Stanley.
- Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
- Snake River from the Washington state line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Oxbow Dam.
- Clearwater River mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Clear Creek.
- North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to Dworshak Dam.
- South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth to the confluence of American and Red Rivers.
- Boise River from its mouth to the Barber Dam.
The season runs through April 30 in most areas, except:
- On the Salmon River from Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, about a quarter mile upstream of the Middle Fork, the season ends March 31.
- On the Little Salmon River, the season runs through May 15.
- On the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam to Oxbow Dam, the season runs through May 31.
- On the Boise River upstream to Barber Dam, the season ends May 31.
Steelhead are in the Boise River only when stocked by Idaho Fish and Game. In the Boise River, steelhead are defined as rainbow trout longer than 20 inches with a clipped adipose fin. During November, over 300 steelhead were stocked in the Boise River. Barbless hooks are not required in the Boise, but anglers must have a steelhead permit to fish for and keep steelhead.
Q. I forgot to turn in my hunter report, is it too late?
A. No, it's not too late. Reporting is required either 10 days after a deer, elk or pronghorn is harvested, or ten days following the end of the season for which a tag is valid. Hunters are required to file a report for each tag they purchased, whether they hunt or not.
Hunters can file their reports online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/hunt/report or call 1-877-268-9365 and speak to a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Promptly received hunting and harvest data provides Fish and Game a more complete picture of game populations to base decisions for next year's season. Without this timely information, managers are forced to be more conservative when making future hunting opportunities available. In addition, hunters like having harvest estimates well before the application period for fall controlled hunts. If Fish and Game receives hunter reports early, wildlife managers are able to complete the harvest estimates sooner so hunters can plan their hunting trips next fall.
Recent winter storms and colder temperatures have contributed to the movement of deer and elk to lower elevations throughout southeast Idaho. More animals are moving through urban/wildland interfaces, where they can be problematic for motorists in neighborhoods and on county roads. And, these animals are also crossing highways and interstates during these normal winter migratory movements.
Idaho Fish and Game cautions all motorists to please be careful when travelling the roads this winter-for both public safety and the safety of Idaho's wildlife. Collisions with wildlife can be reduced by following these steps:
- Be particularly wary of animals near the roads during early morning and early evening hours. Though animals can be on the road any time during the day or night, dawn and dusk tend to be popular times for animals on the move-and they can be particularly difficult to see during those times.
- Drive a little slower on county roads running through or near neighborhoods nestled in urban/wildland interfaces-like Johnny Creek or Mink Creek in Pocatello for example. Motorists should drive a little slower during the winter months anyway since winter conditions increase the time it takes to stop a vehicle and make it more difficult to control a vehicle when roads are slick.
- Be especially cautious when driving near farmland and livestock operations in more rural areas. These sites can be draws for deer and elk because of the haystacks and feed that can be found there.
- Pay attention to animal crossing signs and reader boards that are placed in hotspot areas along Idaho's roadways and highways. They are there for a reason!
Hunters and anglers are undoubtedly the easiest people to buy Christmas gifts for. There are items that would be appreciated that cost only a few dollarsÉall the way up to items that cost hundreds or more.
There is absolutely no end to the products that are available in the retail stores for someone on your list who hunts, fishes, camps or boats.
Some items are actually needed (hats, gloves, socks etc). Other items we just want because we think they will make us more likely to bring home meat for the freezer or get that once in a lifetime trophy. Certainly new binoculars or a rangefinder will make us more successful at finding the buck of a lifetime. And, that one color of spinner, spoon or fly we don't currently have may be exactly what would attract a new state record fish.
Most of us who love the outdoor experience won't mind if we already have one of what you give us. We can almost always use another oneÉwhatever it is.
One item that is absolutely essential for hunters and anglers to get this time of year is a new license. Idaho hunting and fishing licenses are issued on a calendar year basis, and they expire December 31. (Washington licenses run from April 1-March 31.)
New 2016 hunting and fishing licenses first become available on December 1, but they become valid on January 1. Most hunters and anglers don't think to buy one until their first outing of the new year, so they make great Christmas gifts.
Licenses are available at many vendors statewide including most sporting goods stores, hardware stores and now even the major national retail chains carry them. Licenses are also available online 24 hours a day seven days a week. Go to idfg.idaho.gov. There is an additional service fee for licenses purchased online.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking written public comment regarding the proposed construction of a new boat launch on the South Fork of the Teton River.
The proposed boat ramp would create an access point on the Teton River below Rexburg, and allow boat traffic downstream to the confluence with the Henrys Fork, approximately 6 miles downstream. The most likely takeout would be at Beaver Dick Park, or points downstream.
This project will consist of a new 15 foot-wide by 68 foot-long concrete boat ramp, and vault toilet, ADA parking, connecting roads, signs, and fences.
Currently, there is no public access site located on this section of the Teton River West of Rexburg. The proposed ramp is made possible through a generous donation from a local landowner and partnerships with Madison County.
The deadline for comment is January 25, 2016. Comments can be sent to:
Regional Fisheries Manager
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
4279 Commerce Circle
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
There is one winter activity that's off and running at Henrys Lake - ice fishing.
A November cold snap helped ice form on this famous fishery, and anglers have responded by boring holes in the ice in hopes of catching a lunker. Many anglers have recently reported catching and releasing a dozen or more fish each day, although many anglers also report tough fishing as well.
Henrys Lake is a 6,000 acre lake just outside the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park, known for abundant populations of trophy-sized cutthroat, hybrid and brook trout. It has been noted as one of the most popular flat water fisheries in Idaho, and people come from all over the country in pursuit of the lake's famous trout.
Ice fishing is relatively new to Henrys Lake. In 2011, Fish and Game extended the season into winter, allowing anglers to fish the lake through January 1. Anglers are reminded that fishing is closed on Henrys Lake from January 2 through May 27, 2016.
"Although the closing date is slightly unusual - ending on a date other than the last day of the month - this provides fishing opportunity when many Idahoans are not working," said Dan Garren, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries manager based in Idaho Falls.
While many anglers are reporting good success, a few have struggled, which is typical any time of year at Henrys Lake. Anglers are encouraged to check the weather before heading out, as winter conditions can be extreme.
Standard ice fishing rules apply at Henrys Lake. Anglers may use as many as five rods; holes in the ice may be no more than ten inches in diameter. The trout limit is two fish. Anglers must stop fishing once they have two fish in possession, including brook trout.
Anglers ringing in the New Year fishing on one of Idaho's premier fisheries are also reminded that a 2016 Idaho Fishing License in their possession is required January 1.
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