Press Release

December 2018

Pigeon and dove die off in Kuna area caused by common pigeon virus

As reports of mourning and Eurasian collared dove die offs in the Kuna area filter in to Fish and Game offices, forensic testing on several dead birds from the area has pinpointed the cause of death as pigeon paramyxovirus, a strain of paramyxovirus that is common to pigeons and doves.

Similar dove die offs were recently reported in the Idaho City area, while a large pigeon die off occurred during summer in Mountain Home due to a different strain of paramyxovirus.

The disease poses no health risk to humans or pets, but can impact other domestic poultry. Persons with backyard chickens are encouraged to keep their birds isolated from wild doves and pigeons and not feed chickens in areas frequented by wild doves or pigeons.

The mourning dove hunting season is closed, but invasive Eurasian collared doves continue to be harvested. Upland hunters should avoid harvesting any live birds found on the ground that appear weak or sick. As a precaution, potentially sick birds should not be handled by hunters or hunting dogs, because while there is no risk to humans or pets, birds infected with the virus could have other diseases as well.

Kuna-area residents feeding birds are advised to stop feeding doves for the next few weeks to reduce further transmission of the virus to other birds. All persons feeding birds should practice good feeder hygiene, which includes removing waste, or excess feed, every week, cleaning feeders and feeding areas using a 10-percent bleach solution followed by rinsing in clean water, and also maintaining any watering areas in clean condition.

People noticing multiple dead pigeons or doves at, or near, bird feeders can report the event at https://idfg.idaho.gov/report/doves. Because Fish and Game staff are aware of the outbreak, no follow-up calls will be made.

Fawn dies in Rexburg after eating toxic yew shrub

Conservation Officer Andrew Sorensen received a call on Dec. 19 about a deceased mule deer fawn on the outskirts of Rexburg. The fawn belonged to a group of about 25 mule deer that hang out on the south end of town every winter. Upon investigation, Sorensen determined that the young fawn had ingested a large amount of Japanese yew and died of yew toxicity.

Japanese yew is a non-native plant that is often used an ornamental shrub for landscaping. It is often sold by local nurseries and chosen by homeowners due to the plants ability to stay green and lush all year. Japanese yew is highly toxic when ingested by domestic livestock, or by wildlife such as deer, elk, pronghorn and moose, as well as dogs and cats.  Ingesting only a small handful of needles is enough to kill an animal. 

“This is the first death I have seen this year caused by the plant and I hope it does not become a pattern,” says Sorensen. Multiple wildlife deaths have been attributed to the Japanese yew over the past few years in Idaho including a moose calf Sorensen collected in the same area last year.

Fish and Game officials have seen other animal deaths to yew poisoning in suburban areas where wildlife congregates in winter. In January 2017, a herd of 50 pronghorn died after eating yew in the Payette area. 

Fish and Game is encouraging homeowners living on the edge of towns or in rural areas to consider alternative plants when landscaping and to replace Japanese yew plants if they have them. In addition, anything a homeowner can do to prevent animals from gaining access to the plants is helpful.

You can find more information about the Japanese yew and reducing the risk to wildlife by visiting the following website https://idfg.idaho.gov/conservation/yew/paper

Lake Cascade should continue to produce good perch fishing, but jumbos may decline

Since 2012, Fish and Game’s McCall fisheries staff has conducted annual fall surveys on Lake Cascade by using gillnets and recording the species and sizes captured in the nets. 

Overall, perch numbers are similar to 2017 numbers, but down from annual surveys since 2012 (see below). Also perch greater than 10 inches dominate the population, and have since 2014-15. 

lakecascade_fig1
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IDFG

This information is used by McCall’s fishery staff to manage game fish in the reservoir. In particular, biologists monitor yellow perch and northern pikeminnow populations. Perch are the most popular fish for anglers in the lake, and pikeminnow predation is the single biggest threat to the perch population. Biologists also monitor smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and kokanee numbers.  

Deputy Director Ed Schriever named as new Director of Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore on Friday, Dec. 14 announced the hiring of Ed Schriever as the new Fish and Game Director. Schriever will replace Moore on Jan. 13, who in November announced his retirement. 

Schriever, 59, has been Fish and Game’s Deputy Director of Operations since 2015, and was the Fisheries Bureau Chief from 2008 to 2015. He held various other positions within the agency, including Clearwater Regional Fisheries Manager, fish biologist and hatchery manager during his 35-year career with Fish and Game. 

“I am very proud to have been appointed by the commission to serve as director,” Schriever said. “I am humbled to serve Idaho, lead Department of Fish and Game, and ensure the traditional values associated with people’s ability to interact with their wildlife are professionally managed and sustained. Idaho is one of the last best places in the world. Our legacy of fishing, hunting, trapping and wildlife-based recreation is inseparable with Idaho’s outdoor heritage, culture and quality of life. Your Fish and Game department exists to provide these benefits in perpetuity.”

The Fish and Game Director is the sole employee of the seven-member Fish and Game Commission. The director carries out wildlife management policies set by the commission and runs the day-to-day operations of the agency, which has about 565 full-time positions and an annual budget of $125 million for fiscal year 2020.

“After careful consideration of a pool of highly qualified candidates, we selected Deputy Director Schriever based on his long history of leadership within the agency and deep knowledge of Idaho’s fish and wildlife, as well as his understanding of the issues facing wildlife management,” Fish and Game Commission Chair Derick Attebury of Idaho Falls said. “The commission is confident going forward with the new director that we can continue managing the state’s wildlife in the best interest of Idahoans.”

Hunter comments wanted for moose, sheep, and mountain goat season proposals

Idaho Fish and Game biologists in the Salmon Region want to hear from hunters on proposed changes to moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons for 2019 and 2020.

Hunters are encouraged to attend any of two open houses where they can visit with local wildlife biologists about the proposals and provide their comments.

  • Salmon - December 19, 4:00-7:00 p.m., Salmon Regional Office, 99 Hwy 93 North
  • Challis - December 20, 4:00-7:00 p.m., Challis Community Events Center Board Room

The proposed changes were developed using the most recent population information, as well as public input collected throughout the year.  Additionally at these meetings, local biologists will be available to discuss current deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain lion, bear and wolf populations in the region.

“We will not be presenting any season changes or proposals for big game at these open houses, but rather answering population-related questions and gathering ideas the public would like considered when developing proposals for the upcoming big game season setting process,” said Salmon Region Wildlife Manager Greg Painter.

After staff develops big game proposals to address common issues, another set of open house meetings will be held in early 2019 to accept specific public comments to the 2019-2020 big game season proposals.

A complete list of statewide moose, sheep and mountain goat season proposals, as well as the opportunity to comment online, will soon be available on Fish and Game’s website at https://idfg.idaho.gov. Comments can also be mailed to: 2019-2020 MSG Season Proposals, PO Box 25, Boise, ID 83707. Comments will be accepted through January 3.

The final proposed changes for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat will be presented for Commission approval at their January 24 meeting in Boise.

Ten reasons to go ice fishing this winter, and where it happens

If you haven't tried ice fishing in Idaho yet, you're missing out on a winter activity that is not only fun and inexpensive, it's a great way to catch lots of tasty fish. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you should go ice fishing: 

Ice fishing is a good reason to get outside during winter

Winter can give us all a nasty case of cabin fever, but unlike many other activities that make you wait until spring, you can keep fishing during winter. A day on the ice is not just another fishing trip, it’s a whole different fishing experience. 

It’s surprisingly beginner friendly

Ice fishing may seem specialized, and part of it is because it’s the only type of fishing that requires an ice auger. But aside from that, nearly any fishing gear will work. You can also build your own ice fishing rods, or a batch of them, for a reasonable price. Here’s a DIY example. If you decide to buy your gear, an ice fishing rod/reel combo is inexpensive, and honestly, a lot of fun to fish with because even a modest-sized fish feels big. After that, all you need is a hook, weight and bait. You can make it as simple or as sophisticated as you want. Check out Fish and Game's ice fishing page for more information about ice fishing basics and important safety information. 

F&G seeks information on unlawful elk killing near Prichard

Idaho Fish and Game is seeking assistance in solving the case of an unlawfully taken elk on Saturday, Dec. 1. Someone killed an elk near Mile Marker 4 of the Beaver Creek drainage near Prichard. 

Some of the meat, and the head, were taken from the carcass.  If anyone has any information about who may have killed the elk, please call the Panhandle Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-769-1414, or the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999.  Callers may remain anonymous, and a reward may be offered for information leading to the arrest of the violator.