Press Release

November 2018

Winter feeding - not the act of kindness some may think

Winter feeding of deer and elk near homes cannot only be harmful to them, but can ultimately be dangerous, according to Jason Husseman, Idaho Fish and Game district wildlife biologist based in Salmon.

While feeding that cute little fawn in your yard may seem helpful, Fish and Game says the unintentional consequences can actually be detrimental to their health for several reasons.

“Feeding deer and elk is not the act of kindness some people think, but it can actually do more harm than good,” said Husseman. “It often begins with just a few animals, but their numbers can quickly grow and become overwhelming.”

Wildlife receiving supplemental feed often congregate in unnaturally high numbers in small areas, which increases the chances of diseases spreading among the population. Malnourished animals and crowding stress creates conditions ideal for serious disease outbreaks, which is a serious concern to livestock producers and wildlife managers alike.

Damage to vegetation at feed sites is another concern. Trees and shrubs, especially aspen and willow, can be heavily damaged and take decades to recover, if at all. “Of course, the same damage can occur to ornamental plants where big game are fed near homes,” Husseman said. “And not just on your property, but on your neighbor’s too.”

More importantly, feeding big game near homes is discouraged as they may lose their fear of humans, which can lead to injuries and sometimes death to the animal, pets and even injury to humans.

“Just last week, we received a call from a local resident whose small dog was killed by a deer in her yard,” Husseman said. “While they may look harmless, people need to realize that deer are wild animals and can be unpredictable.”

Confiscated game meat donated to those in need

Each year, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game seizes unlawfully taken fish and wildlife that is often processed and donated to charity organizations.

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Mike Demick - IDFG

After each case in finalized through the court system and with the magistrate’s approval, Fish and Game donates the edible meat and fish to local food banks, church groups and helping-hand organizations that distribute to those in need. Most of the game meat is confiscated in the fall, so donations usually increase during the holiday months, allowing some to have more food on the table during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to Justin Williams, Fish and Game district conservation officer in Salmon, several recent wildlife violation cases involving multiple animals taken illegally have resulted in hundreds of pounds going to those in need.

Helicopter surveys of big game to begin soon

Beginning in early December, Idaho Fish and Game staff will take to the air to get a closer look at deer and elk numbers, including several low-level helicopter surveys planned throughout the state.

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"People may see and hear low-flying helicopters in Idaho’s outdoors throughout the winter,” said Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Bret Stansberry of Salmon. “While we understand that some hunts will be in progress, we will do our best to temporarily avoid areas where we observe people.”

Southwest Region trout stocking schedule for December

Personnel from Fish and Game's Nampa Hatchery will be releasing more than 9,300 catchable-sized rainbow trout at the following locations during December.


Boise River – Barber Park to Glenwood Bridge      December 3      1,440
Boise River – Eagle Bridge to Middleton      December 3      720
Eagle Island Park Pond      December 3     450

Esthers Pond (Boise)      December 3      1,300
Marsing Pond      November 26      450
Parkcenter Pond (Boise)      December 3      750

Riverside Pond (Garden City)      December 3      720
Rotary Pond (Caldwell)      December 3     500
Sawyers Pond (Emmett)      December 3     450

Williams Pond (Boise)      December 3      450
Wilson Springs (Nampa)      Nov. 26, Dec. 10      250/250
Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa)      Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17      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.

- IDFG -

Gift Certificates, Wildlife Guides, and Wildlife Prints-- Let Fish and Game Help You with Your Holiday Shopping!

Looking for a simple way to fill those holiday wish lists, especially for those who are hard to buy for?

Shop at your regional Fish and Game office!

For your favorite hunter or angler of any age, consider buying a gift certificate that can be used toward the purchase of licenses, tags, or permits. Attach the certificate to a box of shotgun shells or to a headlamp or stuff it inside a pair of new wool socks, and you have a fun and useful gift any sportsperson would be thrilled to receive.

Keep in mind that certificates must be redeemed at a Fish and Game office, but the great thing is that a gift certificate from Fish and Game is never the wrong size or wrong color for those on your list. For those of you who tend to wait until the last minute, gift certificates can be purchased anytime-- even on December 24.

Maybe you have a wildlife watcher in the family. While supplies last at regional offices (may not be available at all locations) the “Idaho Birding Trail Guide” priced at $5 and the “Idaho Watchable Wildlife Guide” priced at $10 make great gifts at great prices. Both guides are filled with beautiful color pictures and a wealth of information about Idaho’s wildlife and viewing areas. And, money generated from the sale of these books supports Fish and Game’s non-game program.

The Fish and Game office in Pocatello also has a nice selection of extraordinary pencil sketches by the late Pocatello artist and naturalist, Edson Fichter. Unframed prints showcasing various wildlife species come in all sizes and start as low as $15.00. All money generated from the purchases of the Edson Fichter prints goes toward the continual maintenance and improvements of the wonderful Edson Fichter Nature Area in Pocatello near Indian Hills Elementary School.

Time to shop for 2019 hunting and fishing license deals

With Black Friday and holiday shopping deals going on, here are some Idaho Fish and Game “hacks” you may not be aware of that can save you money and increase your opportunities.  

Hack #1: Purchase a 3-year youth license for your 17-year-old

If a youth purchases a, 3-year youth license while they are 17, they can continue to purchase junior priced tags through the valid dates of the license. Age restrictions still apply for youth-only hunts.

Hack #2: Save $89 on license and tags by buying a Sportsman Package

Have you ever been in the field and wished you had another tag or permit in your pocket? Sportsman Package provides a resident combo license, 6 big game tags, and 4 permits -a savings of $89.15 off the a la carte pricing.   For the avid hunter/angler, this will either save you money or provide more opportunities at a marginal increase in cost.

Hack #3: Enter Idaho’s Super Hunt: the little known “ultimate controlled hunt” 

Sure you know about Idaho’s controlled hunts, but did you know that there’s another drawing called Idaho’s Super Hunt which allows you to hunt any open unit (even controlled hunts) anywhere in the state? Each year 34 winners are drawn for elk, deer, moose, pronghorn, or the ultimate super hunt- a combo of all 4 species! You do not need to purchase a license to enter. There are two drawings you can enter, and the second drawing often has fewer entries.  Entries are $6 for individual species, or $20 for combo entries.

See the changes to fishing rules for 2019-21 seasons

The Idaho Fish and Game commission set seasons and rules for the 2019-21 fishing seasons at its Nov. 14 meeting in Coeur d'Alene. New rules to take effect Jan. 1 are as follows: 


Establish June 8, 2019; June 13, 2020; and June 12, 2021 as “Free Fishing Days.”  These dates are the Saturday after the first full week in June and correspond with National outdoor recognition events. 

Panhandle Region

Region wide − Change the burbot limit to 6 fish. (Hatchery supplementation has allowed for a dramatic increase in burbot abundance in the Kootenai River and tributaries. A harvest fishery is now sustainable. Additionally, burbot have been stocked in Bonner Lake over the past several years. A regional bag limit of six burbot will allow for harvest in the mainstem Kootenai River, tributaries to the Kootenai River, and Bonner Lake.)

Clark Fork − Add a boundary describing where the Clark Fork River ends and where Lake Pend Oreille begins.  Remove language stating: “except for the posted area adjacent to the Cabinet Gorge Hatchery.”

Benewah Creek and tributaries − Remove from the Special Rule Waters and manage under general fishing rules. 

Deep Creek and tributaries − Remove the seasonal fishing closure and provide a rainbow trout catch-and-release fishery December 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

Upper Priest Lake and tributaries − Remove the bag and possession limit on lake trout and remove bait and barbless hook restrictions.

Clearwater Region

Region wide − Remove bag and possession limits for bass in rivers and streams.

Fish Lake and Lake Creek (Cedars Area) − Remove from the Special Rule Waters and manage under general fishing rules. 

F&G Commission votes to continue general hunts for Sawtooth Elk Zone in 2019

Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Nov. 14 voted to continue a general hunt with capped tags for the Sawtooth Elk Zone in 2019, which typically sells out in minutes due to its popularity with hunters. 

Commissioners may adjust the number of tags available in the zone when it sets its seasons and rules in March. Those tags will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis on the same dates and times as in 2018. 

Commissioners had earlier voted to convert that zone to controlled hunts for elk hunters, which would have caused a series of other rules to take effect, such as sitting out of the controlled hunt drawing for a year for hunters who draw Sawtooth Zone elk tags. 

The commission directed staff to explore other options to distribute tags in capped elk zones that sell out quickly as an alternative to converting those zones to controlled hunts. 


Letter to steelhead anglers from F&G Director Virgil Moore

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission suspended the fall steelhead season effective midnight December 7, 2018.  The decision was made after careful thought in response to a threatened lawsuit over the federal government’s failure to process Idaho’s Endangered Species Act permit for the steelhead fishery. Steelhead fishing will remain closed in 2019 until further notice.  

Having been involved in steelhead management as a professional biologist, and being a steelhead fisherman for over 40 years, I’m well aware how important steelhead fishing is to Idaho anglers and local economies. The loss of that opportunity, even temporarily, due to a lawsuit and unprocessed permit is truly regrettable.

On October 9, Idaho received a Notice of Intent (NOI) to file a lawsuit from six organizations, including The Conservation Angler, Idaho Rivers United, Friends of the Clearwater, Wild Fish Conservancy, Wild Salmon Rivers and Snake River Waterkeeper. The groups said they would sue Idaho for allowing a sport fishery for hatchery steelhead. Despite harvest of wild steelhead being illegal in Idaho, any catch-and-release of wild steelhead requires a permit from the federal government because they are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 

Fish and Game attempted to reach a settlement where some fishing on hatchery steelhead would remain open in Idaho, with little risk to wild steelhead, however, the groups that filed the notice of their intent to sue rejected this offer. 

For whatever reason, these groups singled out Idaho for their lawsuit threat, and because there is not a biological basis to close steelhead fisheries in the Snake River basin, fisheries in the Snake River boundary waters remain open to anglers licensed in Oregon and Washington in compliance with those states’ rules, and tribal steelhead fisheries in Idaho will also continue.