Press Release

June 2016

Reward Increased And New Information Released Concerning Dead Island Park Grizzly Bear

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released new information about a young male grizzly bear that was found dead in Island Park, Idaho at the start of June and the independent Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) Board has also announced an increase in the reward being offered.

Forensic evidence now indicates that the grizzly was killed more recently than first suspected and in fact was killed elsewhere and was dumped where it was found. The bear had only been dead for a few days when it was reported on June 4. 

Along with this new information regarding the time and death of the animal, someone removed some of the front claws from the bear.  It is illegal to possess any portion of a threatened species. Fish and Game is still working with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to learn more about the individual or persons responsible for the illegal killing of this animal that was dumped on Idaho State Land near East Dry Creek, off the Yale-Kilgore Road. 

Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt to retire

Since January of 2006, Steve Schmidt has provided leadership to the fish and wildlife management professionals of the Upper Snake Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.   

As an avid sportsman, he understood the value of providing fish and wildlife populations with the habitat and protection required to allow them to thrive and remain accessible to sportsmen. He was the leader of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) when the Yellowstone grizzly bear was first delisted in 2007 and remains active in ongoing efforts to re-delist the Yellowstone grizzly population.

Schmidt originally grew up in Kansas and moved west to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. After graduation, he returned to Kansas to serve as an Area Wildlife Manager for six and a half years with the Kansas Fish and Game Commission.   He moved to Idaho to first work for Fish and Game as a land manager at Market Lake Wildlife Management Area. From there he went on to serve as a Habitat Improvement Program (HIP) Biologist, the prototype for today's habitat biologists. For twelve years he served as Regional Habitat Manager, overseeing the Upper Snake Habitat Section.

In addition to involvement with YES, Schmidt also served as leader of the Eastern Idaho Aspen Working Group and the Upper Snake Beaver Cooperative. In total, Steve Schmidt has spent the last thirty-six and a half years of his life dedicated to serving the wildlife and sportsmen of America.

According to Schmidt, "It has been and honor and a privilege to be a steward of the natural resources of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem."

Even though he is retiring, Schmidt said, "I intend to remain engaged in conservation related issues and am confident the managers at Fish and Game will carry on with the good work underway."

Fish and Game Seeks Information about Killing of Juvenile Wolves

Idaho Fish and Game is asking for the public’s help in determining who is responsible for removing and killing young wolves from a den in northern Idaho.

The incident occurred in Kootenai County, about 15 miles from Coeur d’Alene, in the Sage Creek drainage.   The incident likely occurred sometime during the week of May 16th. 

Fish and Game manages wolves in Idaho as big game animals.  There was no open season for wolves in the area when the juvenile wolves were killed.

Fish and Game officers collected evidence at the scene and are following leads.   Fish and Game is asking any person with information about this incident to call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999 (tip line available 24 hours a day).  

Callers may remain anonymous.  A reward is available for anyone providing information that leads to criminal prosecution of the case.

Give dad a life jacket for Father's Day

Father's Day is Sunday, June 19 and if your dad is an angler or spends any time in a boat, a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is both a great gift idea and something that may save his life.

“Each year people lose their lives while boating, and they may still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket,” said Juelie Traska, boat safety education coordinator for Idaho Parks and Recreation in Boise.  "A new, Coast Guard Approved PFD is one of the most thoughtful and practical gifts you could give a father who fishes or boats."

While there is a staggering selection of PFD's on the market, inflatable life jackets are gaining in popularity because of their comfort and reasonable price. Some models resemble a pair of suspenders while others are worn like a fanny pack. These types require regular inspection and maintenance but are user-friendly, lightweight, and likely to be worn. Inflatable life jackets should only be worn in lakes and reservoirs, not in whitewater environments. Inflatable life jackets are only authorized to be worn by individuals 16 and older.

The size of the boat used determines the specific design types and quantities of PFDs required. State boating safety law requires all boats, including paddlecraft, to carry one properly fitting and readily accessible Coast Guard-approved PFD per person on board. A cushion or life-ring does not meet this requirement. Boats 16 feet or more in length, except canoes and kayaks, must carry one "throwable" flotation device such as a buoyant cushion or life-ring.

Sheep Poacher Receives Lifetime Hunting Ban/Jail Time

A lifetime hunting ban, jail time and thousands of dollars in penalties are the price a Nampa man must pay for last year’s poaching of a trophy bighorn sheep along Idaho’s Main Salmon River.

Appearing in Idaho County Court on June 6, Paul Cortez (53) of Nampa stood silent as District Court Judge Gregory FitzMaurice handed down the poaching sentence. In addition to a lifetime hunting license revocation, Cortez received 30 days in jail, a $10,000 civil penalty, fines/court costs totaling $753 and four years of probation.


Bighorn sheep poaching, Salmon River, 2015
Creative Commons Licence
Photo by Roy Kinner, IDFG

 

Research aims to learn about pronghorns and improve their numbers

By Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game public information specialist

Catching North America’s fastest land animal with a salmon net may seem like a fool’s errand, but it’s possible with good timing and persistence. 

The obvious question is “why would you want to do that?” The quick answer is to learn more about these fleet-footed animals that occupy large portions of Idaho, but in smaller numbers than they did decades ago. 

Creative Commons Licence
Provided by Brett Panting/Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game crews have been capturing new-born pronghorn antelope fawns this spring and fitting them with radio collars. They want to know how many survive those critical first weeks, and also get a better understanding of pronghorns in general, including what might be done to boost their populations.

The project is led by Utah State University graduate student Brett Panting in cooperation with Idaho Fish and Game. 

Whitetails exhibiting aggressive behavior likely have fawns nearby

All of us have had the experience of seeing a deer in our yards when we have walked out of the house or pulled into the driveway.  A deer will then typically do one of two things.  It may raise its white, tail flag and run away; or, it may watch us long enough to conclude that we are not a threat and go back to feeding on our shrubs, flowers, grass or garden.  Unless the deer is feeding in our vegetable garden or in flowerbeds that we have worked hard to create, we don’t have reason for concern.

An exception to typical, ‘normal’ deer behavior occurs when a doe deer has one (or more) newborn fawns.  If she thinks her young is/are in danger, she may become aggressive toward people or pets in an effort to protect her offspring.

Newborn fawns are not capable of running or defending themselves.  The doe stashes them in some nearby vegetation while she is out feeding, often for several hours at a time.  She returns to nurse the fawn but spends little time by the side of the fawn as a survival strategy.  She doesn’t want to attract the attention of predators by being with the fawn. She remains nearby, aware and attentive to potential dangers to her fawn.

Judging from the phone calls received last week at the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) regional office, there were a lot of fawns recently born in residential areas of the Panhandle.   Whitetails generally give birth in early to mid-June, so these newborns are right on schedule.

One caller reported that a doe comes after him any time he goes into his yard. The doe has even followed his dogs onto his deck.  Another caller reported that she must park as close to the door as she can, and watch for an aggressive doe every time she goes to or from her car. 

Project WILD workshops scheduled in Boise

Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering two Project WILD workshops in Boise for adults who want to share the wonders of Idaho's natural resources with the next generation.

Project WILD is a wildlife-focused conservation education program for K-12 educators and their students - but you don't have to be a teacher to participate. The workshops are available for teachers, scout leaders, parents or anyone interested in sharing nature with children. Continuing education and/or STARS credits are available.

At these lively and engaging workshops, participants are introduced to Project WILD materials, activities, and strategies. Through hands-on activities, participants gain the experience and confidence needed to work with their youth and to integrate Project WILD into their teaching.

Workshops offered in June and July include: 

WILD about Early Learners: Boise, June 21 and 22, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. both days, Fish and Game Headquarters, 600 S. Walnut.  This workshop offers teachers an opportunity to use WILD in new ways. The Idaho WILD About Early Learners guide has modified Project WILD activities to fit the needs of a younger audience and is very appropriate in many settings.  In the guide you'll find hands-on activities, music and movement, resource lists, home connections and much more. Workshop participants receive the Idaho WILD About Early Learners guide and the Project WILD and WILD Aquatics guides.

WILD about Salmon:  Boise, July 7 and 8, MK Nature Center behind Fish and Game Headquarters, 600 S. Walnut. This workshop offers teachers the opportunity to learn more about one of Idaho's most precious resources: salmon. The first day of the workshop is from noon to 7 p.m. at the MK Center. The second day of the workshop is a field trip from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the South Fork of the Salmon River where teachers will get to learn about and handle a live salmon returning from the ocean.

Adults can transfer their controlled hunt tags to their child or grandchild

To enhance youth hunting opportunity and experience, holders of a controlled hunt tag for big game or a turkey controlled hunt permit are reminded that they may transfer their tag or permit to their child or grandchild.

The Fish and Game Commission adopted rules in 2012 that allow a person to transfer their controlled hunt tag to their child or grandchild under the age of 18 who is qualified to participate in the hunt.  New rules approved in 2016 clarified the once-in-a-lifetime harvest eligibility.

A form must be used to designate the tag, which can only be done at a Fish and Game office, in person or by mail.

Tag transfer requirements include:

  • The child or grandchild may be designated only one controlled hunt tag per species per calendar year.
  • The transfer must be made before the opening date of the hunt.
  • Resident adults can only transfer to their resident child or grandchild; and nonresident adults can only transfer to their nonresident child or grandchild.
  • The once-in-a-lifetime eligibility applies to the child or grandchild if they harvest.For example, if an adult designates his or her antlered moose, antlerless moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, California bighorn, or Mountain goat tag to their child, and the child harvests using that tag, the child has fulfilled the child’s once-in-a-lifetime eligibility and will no longer be eligible to apply for that species.
  • Controlled hunt tags or permits cannot be sold.

For more information or to receive a copy of the tag transfer form, contact a Fish and Game regional office or visit the Licensing page on Fish and Game’s website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/license/controlled-hunt-tag-transfer.

Public input sought on youth hunt eligibility and proposals for mandatory trapper education

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants to hear from the public about proposed changes to eligibility requirements for youth hunts and also proposals for mandatory trapper education. 

To review the proposals and submit comments, go online to the public involvement page on Fish and Game's website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement. 

Youth Hunting

Fish and Game continues to propose steps to simplify youth licensing and hunting, to make it easier for families and youth to understand youth hunting opportunities and eligibility requirements. Commission-approved seasons include youth general and controlled hunts for pheasants, turkeys, and waterfowl.  Currently, age and mentoring eligibility requirements are inconsistent with resident Junior Hunting License and nonresident Junior Mentored Hunting License requirements and are inconsistent across species.

In order to make it easier to understand requirements needed to participate in designated youth hunts, Fish and Game proposes the following four changes:

Super Hunt winners announced

Winners in the first of two Idaho Super Hunt drawings have been drawn.

Of the 44,767 total entries, 15,936 were for eight deer tags, 14,497 were for eight elk tags, 3,461 were for eight pronghorn tags, 7,254 were for one moose tag, and 3,619 entries were for one Super Hunt Combo, which includes a tag for each of the four species.

All winners have been contacted. State law prohibits Fish and Game from releasing the names of the winners.

Super Hunt winners by species, number drawn and state were:  

  • Deer:  4 - Idaho; 2 - Utah; 1 each from New Mexico and California
  • Elk:  5 - Idaho; 2 - California; 1 - Arizona
  • Pronghorn:  3 - Idaho; 1 each from California, Oregon, Wisconsin; Washington and Utah
  • Moose:  1 - Montana
  • Super Combo:  1 - Idaho

Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose, including general hunts and controlled hunts, in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply.

The entry period for the second drawing goes through August 10, where tags for two elk, two deer, two pronghorn, one moose, and one Super Hunt Combo will be drawn.  Winners will be notified by August 20. Hunters may enter the drawings at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, online at https://idfg.idaho.gov, or by calling 1-800-554-8685.

Proceeds raised in the drawings support the Access Yes! Program, which compensates  landowners who provide hunter and angler access to or across private land to public lands.

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.

Dworshak kokanee and bass provide steady action

By Sean Wilson, IDFG Fishery Research Biologist, Lewiston

Summer is almost here and a lot of folks have been taking advantage of the warm, sunny days by spending a day fishing out on the lake. Dworshak Reservoir is one of the most popular fisheries in the Clearwater Region and anglers have been busy chasing “bluebacks,” “smallies,” or whatever else may bite. Here’s the lowdown on the kokanee this year and how the fishery is shaping up.

 

Smallmouth
If you’re not a kokanee fisherman, there’s still plenty of action.  Bass fishing was good last spring, and so far this year has been a repeat. Catch rates in April were just as good as last year at about a fish an hour. The data from early May indicates fishing got even better. While fishermen report releasing most of the bass they catch on the reservoir, the fish that were harvested in April averaged 14 inches, with the biggest we recorded at just over 18 inches. 

One of the tournaments we visited in late May produced fish up to six pounds. However, these big fish are finishing their spawn and are moving out into deeper water where they are more difficult to catch. However, there will be plenty of action for small to medium size fish all summer long, and the big fish are still there for anglers that know where to find them.