Press Release

March 2016

More wild turkeys introduced in Salmon region

While hunters across Idaho prepare for the upcoming wild turkey season this spring, Fish and Game managers are looking further ahead, in hopes of providing more hunting opportunity for the wily birds.

Upland game managers recently relocated an additional 66 wild turkeys from the Preston area in southeast Idaho to Lemhi County in the Salmon Region. The birds were released in the Carmen and Tower Creek areas, just north of Salmon.

This is the second consecutive year wild turkeys have been released in this area, with 63 relocated last winter from the same source. Additional turkeys from southwest Idaho may be released in the same drainages later this week, contingent on trapping conditions.

In addition to relocating turkeys, several habitat improvement projects have been completed on private lands in the area, thanks to the cooperative efforts involving the National Wild Turkey Foundation, National Resource Conservation Service, Fish and Game, local landowners and sportsmen. The goal is to provide a viable population of wild turkeys that will not become a nuisance to landowners. Managers are confident the population will grow quickly, if the habitat will support them through the winter months.

Both Carmen and Tower creeks contain some of the healthiest riparian habitat adjacent to Ponderosa pine trees in Lemhi County.

Managers will track a good number of the birds using radio collars. This will allow them to keep tabs on nest success and survival, seasonal habitat use, and population growth. Information from the collars will also be used to help prevent conflicts with local landowners, focus future habitat projects, and confirm existing habitat improvements are working.

Looking for an adventure - visit one of Idaho's nature areas

Looking for something to do during your spring break? Why not make a quick escape to nature at one of Idaho's nature centers or natural areas.

Five facilities offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy a bit of wild Idaho close to home. These areas include the WaterLife Discovery Center near Sandpoint, the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area in Lewiston, the IDFG Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center in Boise, the Edson Fichter Nature Area in Pocatello and the Salmon Outdoor Classroom in Salmon.

The MK Nature Center is the flagship facility, opening its doors in 1990. With the input and hard work of a number of Fish and Game employees and support from then- director Jerry Conley, the 4.6 acre former landfill and baseball field was transformed into the vibrant wildlife habitat it is today. Local businesses, individuals and foundations, including the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation, all contributed to this amazing transformation.

Today, the nature center receives 150,000 annual visitors along with approximately 10,000 school students participating in field trips. The visitor's center, walking paths, underwater viewing windows, stream and ponds provide casual visitors and students with ample wildlife watching opportunities. From native fishes in the water to mule deer, fox, mink and many bird species, the MK Nature Center is an oasis for wildlife right in the middle of our capital city.

Equally unique, Fish and Game's other natural areas also feature walking paths for wildlife viewing, photography or a place to just enjoy the outdoors. Interpretive signage at some sites can help you learn about the unique wildlife and habitats of the area. These sites also act as outdoor classrooms. Students get a chance to spend a day outdoors engaged in hands-on education projects or learning new skills such as fishing.

Nature centers and natural areas are perfect close-to-home places to let families connect with the outdoors.

Enter Super Hunt for hunt of a lifetime

With every entry in Fish and Game's Super Hunt drawings, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands.

Super Hunt tags allow winners to pursue deer, elk, pronghorn or moose in any open hunt. This includes general hunts and controlled hunts. The Super Hunt Combo winner may hunt all four species - deer, elk, pronghorn and moose in any open hunt. Money raised by the drawings provides hunters and anglers access to private lands through the Access Yes! program.

Deadline for entries in the first drawing is May 31. Entries submitted after the May 31 deadline will automatically be entered in the second drawing which takes place in August. Eight elk, eight deer, eight pronghorn, and one moose hunt will be drawn in the first drawing. One Super Hunt Combo hunt will also be drawn. The winner of the Super Hunt Combo is entitled to hunt all four species - one elk, one deer, one pronghorn and one moose. Winners will be notified by June 10.

Super Hunt entries are $6 each. Super Hunt combo entries are $20 each. No license is needed and hunters can enter as many times as they like.

For more information, including frequently asked questions and photos of previous winners, visit the Super Hunt page on Fish and Game's website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/superhunt.

'Ghost' moose observations reported in northern Idaho

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Panhandle office is again starting to receive calls about odd looking moose. The moose appear to be partially white; or, as one person reported, Ôghost-like' in appearance.

Moose can experience tick infestations that start in mid-September but the problem is not clearly visible to people until late in the following winter. The ticks are called "moose ticks". Less commonly they are referred to as "winter ticks".

The infestations become visible when moose scratch and paw at their own skin enough to cause large patches of hair to break or fall out. That is when IDFG begins to get reports of sick looking moose.

Many times these patches are on the withers where moose are able to reach and scratch with their hooves. The skin that is exposed by the hair loss is light colored. From a distance, the exposed skin makes the moose appear to be white in color.

Moose tick larvae hatch from eggs laid on the ground in April. They climb vegetation during the late summer and early fall and wait for a moose to come along. Stimulated by the carbon dioxide exhaled by a moose, they interlock their legs and wait.

When a moose contacts the brushy vegetation covered by interlocked tick larvae, strings of thousands of tick larvae cling onto the hair of the moose and crawl toward the skin. These tick larvae can also cling to deer, however, deer appear to be able to scratch them off.

Infested moose average 33,000 ticks, and one dead moose was documented to have over 100,000 ticks. Pity the biologist who had to count them!

Moose ticks take a blood meal from their host in November, January, March and April. In April, the female ticks drop off to lay their eggs on the soil surface, starting the tick life cycle over again.

Rainbow Trout Stocking Schedule For Southwest Idaho

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 22,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during April.

LOCATION - WEEK STOCKED - NUMBER OF TROUT

Boise River, above Glenwood Bridge - April 4, 18 - 1,080/1,080

Boise River, below Glenwood Bridge - April 4, 18 - 720/720

Caldwell Pond #2 - April 4 - 500

Crane Falls Reservoir - April 18 - 1,200

Duff Lane Pond (Middleton) - April 4 - 225

Eagle Island Park Pond - April 18 - 450

Eds Pond (Emmett) - April 25 - 200

Heros Pond (Meridian) - April 11 - 150

Indian Creek (Caldwell) - April 11 - 200

Indian Creek (Kuna) - April 11 - 300

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) - April 4, 18 - 450/450

Lowman Nature Ponds - April 25 - 600

Lucky Peak Reservoir - April 18 - 5,700

Mann Creek Reservoir - April 18 - 2,400

Marsing Pond - April 4 - 450

Mill Pond (Horseshoe Bend) - April 25 - 900

McDevitt Pond (Boise) - April 11, 18 - 450/450

Merrill Pond (Eagle) - April 11 - 250

Parkcenter Pond (Boise) - April 25 - 900

Payette Greenbelt Pond - April 11 - 450

Riverside Pond (Boise) - April 4, 18 - 360/360

Rotary Pond (Caldwell) - April 4 - 500

Sawyers Ponds (Emmett) - April 25 - 900

Sego Prairie Pond at Nicholson Park (Kuna) - April 11 - 225

Settlers Pond (Meridian) - April 11, 25 - 125/125

Weiser Community Pond - April 11 - 500

Williams Pond (Boise) - April18 - 450

Wilson Springs (Nampa) - April 4, 18 - 250/250

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) - April 4, 11, 18, 25 - 400/400/400/400

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.

Visit a Wildlife Management Area

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) manages thirty-two Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) around the state. These sites have been established to protect wildlife habitat, and to provide opportunities for hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers.

Varying in size from 275 to 85,000 acres, each area provides quality habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. While some are situated such that they are ideal for a specific purpose such as producing waterfowl or providing big game winter range, every WMA plays host to a wide range of wildlife species.

Now is a great time to head to a WMA in Idaho to see wildlife. Why now? Because many species of waterfowl and songbirds are migrating through our state now and they are in full spring breeding plumage.

There are seven WMA's in the Idaho Panhandle, and they are some of the best places to enjoy wildlife. There is no charge to visit a WMA.

The Coeur d'Alene River WMA is just east of Harrison and south of Coeur d'Alene. It is about one hour south of I-90 on Highway 97. This area encompasses most of the lateral chain lakes of the Coeur d'Alene River and is a haven for migrating and nesting birds as well as other wildlife. Look for all species of ducks and geese, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, rails, kingfishers, snipe, mourning doves and wild turkeys. Over 50 pairs of osprey nest on the lower Coeur d'Alene River, and an additional 30 pairs near the mouth of the St Joe.

McArthur Lake WMA is adjacent to Hwy 95, 18 miles north of Sandpoint and 13 miles south of Bonners Ferry. McArthur Lake WMA provides excellent goose nesting habitat and large numbers of pintails have been there for the last several weeks.

Idaho's 2015 whitetail harvest sets all-time record

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

Fish and Game predicted a banner hunting season for 2015, and hunters delivered with the highest all-time whitetail harvest and increased deer and elk harvests over 2014.

Hunters took an estimated 30,568 whitetails in 2015, topping the 1996 record of 29,800. The combined estimated mule deer and whitetail harvest was 68,764, which exceeded the 2014 harvest of 61,200, and it was the highest deer harvest since 1991. The mule deer harvest was also 5,200 more than in 2014.

Clearwater Regional Wildlife Biologist Dave Koehler said he was a little surprised to see a record whitetail harvest considering hunting conditions weren't ideal due to warm, dry weather in the fall. But he added that trends were pointing in that direction.

"Both harvest and hunter participation for whitetails has been on an upward trend since 1973," Koehler said.

He noted that the outbreak of bluetongue last summer hit some localized whitetail herds, but had little effect on the overall population. He also doesn't think there was an overharvest from the record take of whitetails.

"None of the data we have suggests that's the case," he said.

Overall success rate for deer hunters in 2015, including general seasons and controlled hunts, was a whopping 45 percent.

Elk hunters also had a good season by harvesting 24,543 elk and exceeding the 2014 harvest of 20,700. Combined hunter success for general elk seasons and controlled hunts was 27 percent. The 2015 elk harvest was the highest since 1996 and also the fifth-consecutive increased harvest.

Big-game harvests have been trending upward thanks in part to several consecutive mild winters and growing hunter numbers, including non-residents.

The harvest was bolstered by increases in doe and cow tags, which accounted for 28 percent of the deer harvest and 44 percent of the elk harvest.

Chinook salmon fishing to open April 23

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners approved the spring chinook seasons and rules for the Clearwater, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers during its regular meeting Thursday, March 10 in Boise. Fishing will open April 23 and remain open until further notice. The season typically ends when the sport anglers' share of the run is caught, which varies by river.

Chinook have just started entering the Columbia River and less than 50 have crossed Bonneville Dam, which is the first of eight dams the fish cross in the Columbia/Snake river systems. The forecast for this year is 66,100 hatchery fish to cross Lower Granite Dam about 25 miles downstream from Lewiston, which is the last dam the fish cross before reaching Idaho. Last year, 95,300 hatchery chinook crossed Lower Granite.

Areas open to spring chinook fishing will be the same as last year, which includes:

Clearwater River drainage

- Mainstem Clearwater River from Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge upstream to the South Fork of the Clearwater River.

- North Fork of the Clearwater from the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam excluding the perimeter of the Dworshak National Hatchery at Ahsahka.

- South Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the confluence of American and Red rivers.

- Middle Fork Clearwater River from the South Fork upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.

- Lochsa River from its mouth upstream to the Twin Bridges immediately upstream from the confluence of Crooked Fork and Colt Killed creeks.

Salmon River drainage

- Lower Salmon River from Rice Creek Bridge upstream to the uppermost boat ramp at Vinegar Creek.

- Little Salmon River from the mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.

Snake River

Shed hunt responsibly to protect big game

As the winter months pass and spring approaches, many people suffering from cabin fever head to Idaho's hills in search of the antlers big game animals have dropped.

Antlers from deer, elk and moose are commonly found in areas where they spend the winter months. Typically, mule deer and moose shed in late December through March, and elk shed from mid-winter through April.

Antler hunting, more commonly known as shed hunting, is a fun activity and can be done year round, and no permit is needed. All a person needs is a desire to hike the steep hills and a willingness to endure the ever-changing weather of Idaho.

While there are no seasons or rules directly related to shed hunting in Idaho, unfortunately, many take to the field to gather antlers during the worst time of the year for the animals.

"Wintering big game animals are very susceptible to any kind of disturbance whether it is from passing motorists, domestic dogs or shed hunters in late winter and early spring," said Daryl Meints, Fish and Game wildlife manager based in Jerome. "There's growing concern over shed hunters putting additional stress on wintering big game in many areas of the state."

At this time of year deer and elk are relying solely on their body reserves and what little they can get from surrounding vegetation. Any extra movement an animal makes costs energy and that depletes the little energy it has left. Energy depletion can lead to sickness and oftentimes death, especially for fawns and calves at this critical time of year.

"Right now, deer and elk are just trying to hang on until spring green-up," said Meints. "Some animals may be pushed over the edge unintentionally by the very people who want to see them during the fall hunting seasons."

Shed hunters can alleviate potential negative impacts by following these simple steps while still enjoying their sport:

Spring Turkey Controlled Hunt Draw Complete

Turkey hunters who applied for spring controlled hunts can check online to see whether they were successful in the recent drawing.

Hunters can check results online by simply entering their hunting license numbers at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/CH. It is the responsibility of hunters to find out whether they were successful in the controlled hunt drawing.

Hunters are reminded that spring and fall turkey controlled hunt permits are valid only for specific areas and seasons as designated by hunt numbers. For more information, see pages 16-25 the 2016-2017 of the Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.

Idaho Fish and Game To Hold Mule Deer Seminar in Pocatello

Have you ever wondered how Idaho Fish and Game estimates mule deer populations? Maybe you have questions about bonus point systems, or maybe you simply would like to learn more about one of the West's most iconic species.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is hosting a half-day Mule Deer Seminar in Pocatello on Saturday, April 2, at Idaho State University. The free seminar will be held at the Plant Sciences Lecture Hall, Room 114, and will run from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., with a sign-in and meet-and-greet beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Those who attend this seminar will learn about mule deer biology and ecology in a presentation by Terry Bowyer, Ph.D., from Idaho State University. Dr. Bowyer is a highly respected expert on mule deer, an avid hunter and angler, and a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Idaho Fish and Game personnel will also be on hand to present information on the methods for conducting population surveys and monitoring, the ins-and-outs of bonus point systems and 4-point rules, and other management strategies.

The Mule Deer Seminar will be a mix of presentations and informal poster breakout sessions. There will be plenty of opportunities for the public to ask questions and share ideas.

For more information about the Mule Deer Seminar, please contact Idaho Fish and Game at 208-232-4703. We look forward to seeing you there.