Press Release

October 2018

Salmon region check station summary

Here are the numbers for two Salmon region check stations operated over the weekend of October 20 & 21 with comparisons (in parentheses) to the same period in 2017.

Carmen Check Station - Highway 93, north of Salmon

  • Numbers of hunters through station - 241 (251)
  • Numbers of elk checked - 14 (9)
  • Numbers of deer checked - 48 (28)

Stephens Gulch Check Station – Highway 93, north of Challis

  • Numbers of hunters through station - 231 (344)
  • Numbers of elk checked – 12 (20)
  • Numbers of deer checked - 32 (25)

Hunter success rates at both check stations were higher these two days compared to the same period last year. Overall harvest rates at Carmen increased from 14.74 percent in 2017 to 25.73 percent in 2018. Success rates at the Stephens Gulch station was up slightly as well, with 13.08 percent in 2017 to 19.05 percent in 2018.

Check stations provide a snap shot of what hunting was like early in the season, but there's lots more deer and elk hunting available in the Salmon region this fall.

Hunters are reminded that many check stations are “management stations” where the main goal is to collect data from harvested animals and interview hunters. However, Fish and Game also pays attention to any rule violations encountered. The department has taken the top five most common hunting violations and created short videos explaining the reason for each rule and what hunters can do to stay in compliance. The videos are available at https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2017/10/how-avoid-common-hunting-violations

Studying wildlife ecology through road-killed animals

Seeing a road-killed animal may be sad, but it might also provide a clue to more effective wildlife management. 

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Creative Commons Licence
Hilary Turner/Idaho Fish and Game

Hilary Turner works for the Idaho Fish and Game as a roadside carcass surveyor in the Upper Snake Region. She drives US-20 from Idaho Falls to the Montana border searching for carcasses and collecting data.

“Why?” you may ask. 

Ecology is the study of interactions and relationships between organisms and their environments. Road ecology is an emerging science where scientists study the ecological effects of roads, which Turner does by collecting data on road kills.

Lower water levels expected at Moose Creek Reservoir in Clearwater Region

Anglers and boaters should be aware that Idaho Fish and Game will be lowering water levels on Moose Creek Reservoir through October and into early November. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of aquatic vegetation that occurs in the reservoir.

This will improve fishing and boating opportunities next year. The draw down works by exposing aquatic vegetation that is growing in shallow water and allowing it to freeze over winter. The vegetation that freezes will die and reduce the amount of vegetation that grows the following year.

“We chose this technique over other methods of vegetation control such as herbicides because it has a much lower cost, and it allows us to avoid spraying chemicals into the reservoir every year," says IDFG biologist Robert Hand.

Moose Creek Reservoir will be approximately 6 feet lower than normal this winter, but will be refilled by spring runoff. Use extra caution this winter when walking on docks and exposed shoreline, but notes that this will not affect angler’s ability to ice fish when conditions are safe. If you have any questions feel free to call Idaho Fish and Game at 208-799-5010.

For more information on ice fishing safety, go to:

https://www.takemefishing.org/ice-fishing/ice-fishing-basics/ice-fishing-safety/

Jump shooting: a low-cost gateway to waterfowl hunting

Jump shooting ducks is an exciting way for anyone to hunt ducks and geese. It does not require expensive equipment, a dog (although handy), or having to wake up early in the morning. 

All you need is:

  • Shotgun
  • Idaho hunting license
  • Migratory bird (HIP) permit
  • Nontoxic shotgun shell (steel shot)
  • Federal migratory bird stamp (all hunters 16 or older)

Here are some helpful steps that will help you be successful.

Do some scouting

Small creeks, ponds, river bottoms, or other bodies of water is where you will want to focus. Look for areas where ducks can be out of the water’s current, out of the wind, and next to banks near cover. Since we are focusing on jump shooting without a dog, you will want to look for water that you can easily navigate around to retrieve downed bird, or spots that allow for shots over dry land.  Talking to friends and people at the local sporting goods store will give you a good start, but don’t feel like you need a “spot” to start with. Getting in the field and problem solving a plan is one of the most rewarding parts of hunting. 

Hunt mid day

In the morning and evening the ducks are usually on the move flying to and from feeding areas.  During the day, they will tend to loaf around on the water. On stormy and windy days, waterfowl will move to sheltered coves, river bends, and breaks. Jump shooting is usually best in the late morning and afternoon, while during the mornings and evenings the hunting is typically better with decoys. Hunting mid day will also mean you're less likely to disturb people hunting over decoys, or worse, sneaking up on their decoys (it happens). 

North Idaho check stations show similar results, but fewer hunters on opening weekend

When Fish and Game biologists predicted hunting would be similar to last year, they probably didn't realize how accurate that might be based on opening weekend results from the St. Maries check station. 

A total of 360 hunters came through the check station, who had taken 23 deer and elk. 

Last year's total for opening weekend was 369 hunters taking 24 deer and elk. 

Things were different at the Enaville check station, where the number of hunters fell by nearly half with 668 coming through opening weekend last year and 361 coming through this year. The harvest was also down by nearly half, from 35 deer and elk to 19, but in another note in consistency, the success rate was almost identical to last opening weekend (5.24 percent vs. 5.26 percent). 

Check stations provide a snap shot of what hunting was like in the early season, but there's lots more deer and elk hunting available in the Panhandle this fall, and elsewhere in Idaho. October and November are the peak season for deer and elk, and hunters are expecting similar hunting success to 2017, which was an outstanding year for whitetails and elk, but down from previous years for mule deer. 

Hunters are required to stop at check stations, and you here's more information about why check stations are valuable for gathering data on wildlife and hunter satisfaction. 

Clearwater region check stations show opening weekend success

Opening weekend hunter numbers were comparable to past years at the South Fork Clearwater check station near Mount Idaho. A total of 169 hunters visited the check station, compared to last season’s opening weekend visitation of 124 hunters. In 2016, check station hunter numbers were 176 on the first weekend of the season.

Pheasant releases expand hunting opportunity in the Clearwater through Dec. 31

The opening weekend of youth pheasant season on the Palouse River Youth Only Upland Game Area was a great success. This youth area was completely booked on opening weekend with 5 hunter/mentor pairs per day. With the help of Jim Hagedorn and the Game Bird Foundation, we are looking forward to another successful weekend.

Make the call to catch poachers, (800) 632-5999

With many hunting seasons underway, the Idaho Fish and Game asks the public to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline if they witness a violation of wildlife laws.

“Those who ‘Make the Call’ are instrumental in catching poachers stealing game and fish from the Idaho citizens,” said David Silcock, Idaho Fish and Game regional conservation officer based in Salmon. “Many poaching cases would not be detected, let alone, solved without the public’s extra eyes and ears.”

Callers to the 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.

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

During the 35 year history, CAP has been an important link to catching poachers. Each year, CAP receives an average of 600 calls from the public, which results in 150 citations issued and $20,000 paid in rewards

Those 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.

“The more detailed information you provide and the quicker your report it, the more likely a poacher will get caught,” Silcock said. “License plate numbers are extremely useful, as well as exact location, time and description of suspects.”

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

Irrigators asked to contact Fish and Game before turning off water

With the irrigation season winding down and efforts to keep fish out of ditches, irrigators who divert water from local rivers and streams are asked to please call Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Screen Program at 208-756-6022 several days in advance of shutting off their ditch water.

Irrigators are also encouraged to ramp down their flows over several days. The gradual decrease in flow stimulates fish to migrate out of the irrigation system. In addition, irrigators are asked to leave a minimal flow of 50 inches (1 CFS) in the ditch to allow time for Fish and Game to collect any stranded fish.

Idaho Fish and Game’s screen program, water users, and landowners have been working together to prevent the loss of fish into area ditch systems for well over 60 years. The Screen Program currently operates and maintains over 270 fish screens that have been installed with the cooperation of local landowners and water users.