Mountain lion take season closures have occurred in several southeast Idaho game management units over the last several weeks, with new orders again affecting Units 66A and 76.
A successful bighorn sheep hunt in the canyonlands of Owyhee County is a thing to be celebrated. But for a Parma man and his wife, that celebration eventually led to lawlessness.
In 2017, only one bighorn sheep hunt tag was allotted for hunt unit 40, an area encompassing the vast southwest corner of Idaho. Thirty-nine people applied for the coveted tag, which ultimately was awarded to Susan Willmorth (58) of Parma. Guiding her on this hunt of a lifetime was her husband, Joe Willmorth (49). Several weekends of scouting led the pair to a rugged, isolated area deep in the heart of the Owyhee Canyonlands. In late September, Susan bagged a fine, trophy bighorn sheep.
Just days later, Joe and Susan revisited the remote area. The bighorn ram known to them as the “old man” had been Susan’s September quarry; they’d spotted the massive bighorn on several scouting trips. But when the season opened, the old man disappeared.
Multiple days scouting bighorns gave the couple a good idea where the local sheep population lived. And because Susan had the only sheep tag for this remote area odds were low of encountering other people.
On October 6, Joe Willmorth walked into the Fish and Game Nampa office carrying a trophy bighorn sheep head and his wife’s proxy statement. He was there to have the horns measured and an identification pin inserted as required by law. The ram was impressive, and Willmorth claimed that his wife harvested the trophy on October 1. A department staffer measured and pinned the sheep, and took a number of photos of the prize ram.
The Wildlife Diversity Program works to protect almost 10,000 species. That is 98% of Idaho’s biodiversity!
From songbirds, raptors, bats, squirrels, frogs, and lizards, to thousands of insects and other invertebrates, as well as Idaho’s native plants, many nongame species are common and can been seen in your own backyard.
The program’s goal is to maintain viable, self-sustaining populations of all native wildlife and plants to prevent species from becoming endangered. Emphasis is given to priority species and habitats identified in Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan.
Program projects also benefit game species, such as elk, deer, sage-grouse and salmon, that share the same habitats. Two of the many projects that the wildlife diversity program focused on in 2020 were the Pacific Northwest Bumblebee Atlas program and the North American Bat monitoring program.
Action items include moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat season setting and more
For only the second time in almost a 100 years (last year was the first), we were able to provide harvest opportunities for both hatchery and wild adult fall Chinook Salmon in the Snake and Clearwater rivers. This new opportunity is proving popular with anglers as around 2,000 adult fall Chinook Salmon have been harvested this year which is the highest we have documented since we reopened this fishery in 2008. The highest we recorded previously was in 2013 (1,600 fish) when the run was about three times greater than it is this year.
The Citizen Shooting Range Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 20 a 6 p.m. MST. Committee members are participating by video conference, which the Department is hosting at the Nampa Regional Office, 15950 N. Gate Blvd.
While this meeting is informational and no action will be taken, it is open to the public. Due to the Governor’s Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order, dated 11/13/2020, gatherings, including public meetings, are limited to 10 persons or less in physical attendance. People who wish to observe are encouraged to live stream the meeting via Zoom.
Link to Zoom Meeting: https://idfg.idaho.gov/ZJW
This meeting is the first for the committee, which was created by Idaho law in 2020 and serves an advisory role to assist Fish and Game in evaluating the shooting range grant applications that the department solicits each year. The volunteer committee consists of members of the public who actively use shooting ranges and are familiar with the elements for safe public shooting ranges in their communities. They also represent a diversity of shooting opportunities that include hunters, recreational and competitive shooters.
Fish and Game officers have again found Canada geese that had been dumped and left to waste along the Snake River in Minidoka County. The latest incident was reported to Fish and Game on January 16, 2021. The geese were dumped in the same location of the nine geese left to waste in late December 2020. Officers again found that all geese were intact with no meat taken.
According to Senior Conservation Officer Aaron Andruska he found six Canada geese that were either dumped along the Snake River the evening of January 15 or early on January 16, 2021.
Six Canada geese are left to waste along the Snake River in Minidoka County.
Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in the case and callers can remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day.
Fish and Game fisheries managers plan to stock a total of nearly 13 million resident hatchery fish in 2021.
The previously announced closure of the mountain lion season in Game Management Unit 54 has been rescinded. After the closure was announced on January 12, 2021, it was determined that two female lions had been incidentally killed, which does not impact the harvest quota of nine female mountain lions in Unit 54.
By regulation, mountain lion harvest closes once the female harvest quota in Game Management Unit 54, south of Twin Falls, has been met.
The mountain lion take season will now re-open in Unit 54, and remain open until the female quota of nine lions has been met or the season closes by regulation on March 31, 2021, whichever comes first.
To find out whether the quota on a mountain lions has been met and the season closed in a particular management unit, call 1-800-323-4334. Information about the number of lions harvested and reported for each management unit with a quota can be found on the Fish and Game website or by calling your local Fish and Game office.
Hunters wanting to participate in this spring's controlled hunts for black bear can apply through February 15.
Spring 2021 bear controlled hunt information is in the 2020 Big Game Seasons and Rules book.
Hunters who have a 2021 hunting license may apply for controlled hunts at any Fish and Game license vendor; with a credit card by calling 1-800-554-8685; or online at https://license.gooutdoorsidaho.com. Check out this video for instructions on how to apply for controlled hunts on Fish and Game's new licensing system:
There is a nonrefundable application fee is $6.25 per person for residents and $18 per person for nonresidents. An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications. Mail-in applications are not accepted.
Junior hunters must be between the ages of 10 and 17 to participate in any bear controlled hunt, but a 9-year-old may buy a junior license to apply, provided the hunter is 10 years old at the time of the hunt for which they are applying.
Successful spring black bear applicants will be notified by mail no later than March 10. Any leftover tags for spring bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.
This summer’s trawl and hydro-acoustic surveys in Dworshak Reservoir have found a record number of kokanee fry. These surveys estimate there are 5.8 million fry in the reservoir. The previous high was 4.0 million fry. This is both good news and not-so-good news. The reason this is not-so-good is because these high densities will likely result in poor growth leading to kokanee fisheries in two years with a bunch of small fish – fish smaller than most people like to target.