The 2015 annual summary of wolf monitoring in Idaho is now available, and shows wolf numbers remain well above the 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs required to keep gray wolves off the endangered species list under the 2009 de-listing rule. The 2015 Idaho Wolf Monitoring Progress Report includes the current status of the wolf population in Idaho. Wolves range in Idaho from the Canadian border south to the Snake River Plain, and from the Washington and Oregon borders east to the Montana and Wyoming borders. Biologists documented 108 wolf packs in Idaho at the end of 2015. In addition, there were 20 documented packs counted by Montana, Wyoming, and Washington that had established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary. Not all packs are presumed documented. An estimated 786 wolves were associated with documented packs of wolves in Idaho at the end of 2015, similar to that for 2014, yet below that of the peak years of 2008 and 2009. Biologists made closer study of 53 packs to determine if they met the federal breeding pair criteria (an adult male and adult female and at least 2 pups present on December 31). Of these, biologists documented that 33 packs met breeding pair criteria at the end of 2015. Because the number of packs meeting breeding pair criteria was already well above the federal recovery requirement, Idaho did not undertake the considerable expense and personnel time necessary to confirm whether the remaining packs met federal breeding pair criteria. Wolf harvest by hunters and trappers was unchanged from 2014 to 2015. Hunters and trappers harvested 256 wolves in 2015. Fifty four wolves were killed in response to depredations on livestock and 21 were taken to reduce predation on big game populations in 2015.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the upcoming migratory game bird seasons. To view and comment on the season proposals, visit Fish and Game's public involvement page at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement. Beginning this year, a new process and schedule established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be used for setting annual migratory game bird hunting regulations. This new process and schedule will allow Fish and Game to set migratory game bird hunting seasons earlier, which will also allow the Commission to set seasons for all migratory game birds at the same time. This means hunters will have more time to plan their hunts and hunting seasons for all ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, doves, and crows will be available in the same brochure. Proposals for the 2016-2017 seasons include: Waterfowl 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 2015-2016 season. Using that authorization as a framework, Fish and Game conducted a hunter opinion survey recently to assess hunter preferences on how to structure waterfowl seasons for the next five years; 2016-2020. As a result of this survey, 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 24, 2016 and January 29, 2017. For white-fronted geese and light geese (Snow and Ross's), the 107 days can only occur between September 24, 2016 and March 10, 2017. The proposed Youth Waterfowl Season is September 24-25. A seven bird daily bag limit for ducks, but not more than 2 female mallards, 2 redhead, 3 scaup, 2 pintail or 2 canvasback is also part of the new season proposal. Sandhill Crane
For decades, April 1st has marked the opening of a unique fishery in the Upper Snake Region on the Dry Bed of the South Fork of the Snake River. Traditionally, each April the headgates that were installed in 1895 by the Great Feeder Canal Company to convert the old south channel into what was then hailed as the World's largest irrigation project, were shut down for maintenance. Because installation of new headgates has been ongoing since last fall, there is no water at this time to hold fish to be salvaged. The special rules for the Dry Bed are incorporated each year automatically into the Idaho Department of Fish & Game's (IDFG) regulations booklet, so even though the rules exist this year, no opportunity to exercise them will occur this year. According to Regional Fishery Manager Dan Garren, "Water does sub in lower on the Dry Bed, but that stretch has never been included in the special rules." If water existed, then IDFG Regulations for the Dry Bed include the exception that from 4/1- 4/30 it is legal to also take fish using hands, dip nets or snagging. Use of seine nets, chemicals, firearms, explosives, or electric current remains prohibited. The stretch of the Dry Bed covered by these special exceptions runs from Highway 48 (near the Idahoan Fresh Pack Plant) upstream to the Great Feeder headgates.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking for public input on Idaho's management plan for the conservation of American white pelicans. The ten-year plan (2016-2025) is to conserve American white pelican populations and to manage impacts to Idaho's fisheries. This is the last week for public to submit comments to IDFG. The deadline for submitting comments is April 2, 2016. Copies of the plan may be obtained at regional Fish and Game offices. Comments may be submitted on the website or mailed to Pelican Plan Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. 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. To review the plan and submit comments, go online to Management Plan for the Conservation of American White Pelicans in Idaho on Fish and Game's website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/form/pelican-plan-2016. For questions, you can contact Doug Megargle - Regional Fishery Manager at 208-324-4359. Idaho's pelican population has increased dramatically over the last 25 years from a few hundred breeding birds in 1990 to several thousand breeders in recent years. This is generally considered a positive outcome of pelican conservation in the western population segment. However, the increase in pelicans has also resulted in predation impacts on native cutthroat trout and other important recreational fisheries in southern Idaho. Through this plan, Idaho Fish and Game is proposing a balanced approach that ensures the conservation of pelicans but reduces their impact to other conservation and recreation interests. The draft plan updates population trends, monitoring strategies, and management actions that will help alleviate predation impacts to fisheries in southern Idaho.
Idaho rules require a person complete and pass a Wolf Trapper Certification class to be eligible to purchase wolf trapping tags. The course includes 6.5 hours of instruction including both classroom and field experience followed by a written exam. Courses are offered periodically throughout the year, but few are taught during trapping seasons as the instructors are trappers who are out in the field running their own traplines. Two separate, complete wolf trapping certification classes have been scheduled in Coeur d'Alene. The dates are Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23. The classes will be held at the IDFG Panhandle Region office in Coeur d'Alene. Advance registration is required. Individuals interested in completing the class can register online. The course costs $8 per student. Online registration by credit card requires an added convenience fee of $1.75. The fee is due at the time of registration. Registrants must be at least 9 years of age to take the course. IDFG also offers a general furbearer trapping class that is different from the Wolf Trapper Certification class. The general furbearer trapping class does not qualify people for the purchase of wolf trapping tags. When registering, please be certain to sign up for the correct trapping class you want to take. The Wolf Trapper Certification course is instructor-led. Instructors are experienced trappers who are trained and certified to provide students with both classroom study and interactive, hands-on training. Course content covers a wide variety of topics related to wolf biology, wolf behavior and management. There are specific rules regarding wolf trapping that are covered in the class. Instructors and IDFG staff leading the class have expertise in furbearer management, trapping laws and ethics, responsible trapping, proper equipment and trapping techniques. Proper care of a hide for maximum value, and harvest reporting requirements are covered as well.
By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist On the heels of the best big-game hunting season in decades, Idaho turkey hunters will likely benefit from similar conditions that benefited big game. Turkey populations are stable or growing in most parts of the state thanks to several consecutive mild winters, and in some places, the birds are pushing the tolerance of private landowners. Most turkeys in Idaho are found in the northern and western parts of the state stretching from the Panhandle, through the Clearwater and into the Southwest regions down to the Snake River. Those regions are where Fish and Game offers most of the hunting units open to general-season hunts. General seasons run April 15 through May 25, and general-season, youth-only (ages 10-17) hunts run April 8-14. Turkey hunting opportunities also exist in the eastern portions of the state, but they're typically limited to controlled hunts, except in the Southeast Region where seven hunting units have general spring seasons (see details below). For a full list of seasons and rules, including maps that show all units open for general-season hunts, go to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ and look for Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey rules under the Hunting tab. (Direct link: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67) Fish and Game wildlife managers from throughout the state surveyed their areas and provided a report for turkey hunters for the 2016 spring season. Panhandle Region - Wayne Wakkinen, Wildlife Manager Turkeys are found throughout the Panhandle Region, except in the mountainous units 7 and 9. Turkey hunting was very good in 2015 in the Panhandle, which was expected after three mild winters. Nest success in 2015 was good due to a warm, dry spring that produced abundant young birds.
The application period for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat controlled hunts is fast approaching. Hunters have from April 1 through April 30 to apply for these hunts. Applications can be completed 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/. Mailed applications must be postmarked no later than April 30. Each applicant must possess a valid 2016 Idaho hunting or combination license to apply for a controlled hunt. Moose, goat and sheep hunt applicants must pay the tag fee along with a non-refundable application fee. Controlled hunt fees for residents is $173 or $2,116.50 for nonresidents. Only tag fees will be refunded to those who do not draw. Drawing results will be posted on the Fish and Game website in early June. For more information, review the 2015 & 2016 Moose, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat Seasons and Rules brochure available at all license vendors or online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=64.
Youth turkey hunters get an early shot as Idaho's general season youth turkey hunt runs Friday, April 8 through Thursday, April 14. Licensed youth who are 10 to 17 years old on April 8 may participate in the general season youth hunt. Resident hunters under 12 and nonresident hunters under 18 must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years of age or older to participate. "Idaho's youth hunts were created to increase opportunities and promote hunting as a safe, enjoyable family-oriented activity," said Bill Seybold, Fish and Game volunteer coordinator based in Lewiston. "Plus they are great ways to introduce young people to hunting without the pressure of competing with lots of other hunters." Adults who accompany youth hunters must also be licensed and be within normal conversation or hearing range without shouting and without the aid of electronic devices. For more information, see the 2016 & 2017 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67. Idaho's general spring turkey season opens April 15 and runs through May 25.
Turkey hunters are encouraged to review the rules concerning "Extra" tags in the current seasons and rules booklet before planning their hunts this spring or fall. There are three types of tags that may be used for turkey: - General - Can be used in general season or in a controlled hunt with the appropriate controlled hunt permit - Extra - General season tag only. Cannot be used in a controlled hunt. - Special Unit - Available for fall hunts in restricted units. Hunters should note that an extra tag cannot be used in conjunction with a controlled hunt permit - it can only be used in general season hunts. If you plan on hunting in a spring general season and would also like to apply for a fall controlled hunt, you might consider purchasing an extra tag for the spring hunt and using your extra tag first if you harvest, and save the general tag to use if you draw on the fall controlled hunt. Turkey season and rule information can be found on pages 16-25 in the 2016 & 2017 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules booklet available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67
Hunters and other dog enthusiasts now have another reason to attend the 21th annual Premier Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for Dogs event. Idaho Fish and Game officers will be holding a trap awareness seminar as part of the day's events. To register or to learn more about the training day, visit www.snakeavoidance.org, or contact event organizer Heidi Funke at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 208-463-2304. The combined event will be held at Veterans' Memorial Park near State Street and Veterans' Parkway in Boise on Sunday, June 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. While the cost of the rattlesnake avoidance training is $50 for pre-registered dogs, the trap awareness seminar is free, with no appointment required. The trap awareness seminar is designed for anyone who regularly takes their dogs to the Boise foothills, other outlying areas and even the greenbelt. "Most dog owners are unfamiliar with traps of any kind," Fish and Game conservation officer Kurt Stieglitz noted. "This seminar will provide them with some very practical tools related to trapping, including the steps to take if a pet dog ever ends up in a trap." Fish and Game staff will discuss the different types of traps that might be encountered including foot-hold traps, body-gripping traps, and snares, how each trap type works and how to safely release a pet from a trap. Other topics to be covered include trapping seasons, areas to avoid while walking your pet, trapping rules, and what to do if a trap is encountered. Two videos, "How to Release your Dog from a Trap" and "How to Recognize and Avoid Wildlife Traps while Walking your Dog" are also available on Fish and Game's website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/trap. For more information regarding the trap awareness seminar, contact the Idaho Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.
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. The active portions of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes are open, but the remainder are closed until the start of May. BYU-I students are reminded that the Civil Defense Cave is within that portion of the closure that remains closed for April. Maps of the closure are available at the regional Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) and Bureau of Land Management (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 staffs are allowed as part of their administrative duties to enter the closure to carry out enforcement activities. Department staff and volunteers are already entering 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. Since snow remains out in the desert, it is critical that humans give wildlife a wide berth. Many animals are preparing to give birth to their young, and it is important that energy reserves be maintained in the event late spring harsh weather occurs.
Two mountain lion kittens found orphaned in January in southeast Idaho were moved earlier this month to a zoo in the mountains of North Carolina. After a private jet ride across the country paid for by a private donor, the young mountain lions arrived at their new home, Grandfather Mountain, a small zoo with a focus on native wildlife housed in natural habitats. The Grandfather Mountain facility provides interpretive programs with a strong conservation message to thousands of visitors every year. In early January 2016, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers received calls about three young mountain lions hanging around homes in the rural area of Cleveland, Idaho, located approximately 25 miles north of Preston. The kittens were very skinny, did not exhibit typical human avoidance behavior, and there was no evidence of an adult lion with them or in the area. The orphaned kittens were less than six months of age, too young to survive on their own in the wild. Mountain lions under six months old are still dependent on their mothers to provide food and security. Knowing this, Fish and Game staff made the decision to capture the kittens rather than leave them in the wild where they would likely starve. With the help of local houndsmen experienced in lion capture, the 3 sibling kittens were safely caught.
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