Press Release

January 2021

Reflecting back on 2020- A year in review: Clearwater wildlife highlights

Clearwater region wildlife staff have been busy in the field this year monitoring wildlife populations. 

The Clearwater Region placed 150 unbaited remote cameras to help monitor wolf populations and distribution. These remote cameras are placed in early summer and picked up in early fall. This effort is in conjunction with a statewide wolf monitoring program.

Wolf Camera2.jpg
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Brian Pearson/IDFG

We captured and radio collared 15 bighorn sheep on the lower Salmon River as an expansion of the test and cull program. This has cleaned up the sheep herd in Unit 11 and is being expanded in Unit 14,19, and 20. Additionally, we conduct a Mark-Resight estimate of bighorn sheep in Unit 11. Result of that effort are still pending analysis.

Do your part to protect wintering wildlife by leaving animals undisturbed

Winter is a challenging season for Idaho’s wildlife, especially for big game animals that migrate to lower elevations and spend winter closer to people than during other seasons. People can help animals by leaving them undisturbed so they have a better chance to survive winter. 



Reflecting back on 2020: A year in review- Lower Granite Adult Sampling and Lochsa River Monitoring

Sampling of adults at Lower Granite during 2020 was challenging, but with the hard work and collaboration of many stakeholders the trap was operational from March 2nd through March 24th, and July 2nd through November 12th. Although we missed the bulk of spring/summer Chinook sampling and the tail-end of the steelhead from the 2020 spawn class, we were able to reach our sampling goals for fall Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, and steelhead from the 2021 spawn class. In total, this included capturing and handling 25,600 fish (11,766 steelhead, 9,908 fall Chinook, 2,308 Coho, 1,408 spring/summer Chinook and 210 Sockeye)! 

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Patrick Vrablik

Wild Steelhead at Lower Granite Dam with floy tag

Bull elk tangles in backyard swing near Ketchum

Wood River Valley residents notified Fish and Game on Monday, January 11, 2021 that a bull elk had his antlers caught in a backyard swing while still attached to the tree at a home in Gimlet, south of Ketchum, Idaho. Before officers arrived, the elk had broken free of the tree, but the remaining wooden seat of the swing as well as several feet of rope remained caught in the antlers. It was determined that the only way to free the elk was to anesthetize the elk using a dart.

According to Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd this was the second time that this bull had a run-in with a piece of backyard equipment. In mid-October the same bull elk became entangled in a large hammock that nearly took his life when it became water-soaked when the bull went into the Big Wood River.

Reflecting back on 2020: A year in review- Fish hatchery highlights

Despite a year dominated by Covid-19, hatchery staff and fish marking crews worked fairly undisrupted in 2020. Hatchery staff stayed busy releasing Chinook salmon and steelhead smolts at locations along the Clearwater river and tributaries. Chinook salmon smolts released spring 2020 were spawned out at Clearwater hatchery as eggs in 2018. Steelhead smolts released this past spring were spawned out as eggs in 2019. Hatchery staff also kept up with daily feeding, cleaning raceways and stocking fish into 22 waterbodies across the Clearwater region throughout the spring, summer and into October. 

Fish marking trailer crew members traveled to hatcheries across the state to mark millions of fish with a coded wire tag and/or an adipose fin clip. Crews marked hundreds of thousand fish with a PIT tag in 2020.

Chinook salmon and Steelhead smolt releases

In March and April of 2020, Clearwater hatchery staff hauled over 3.5 million Chinook smolts to Red River, Powell, Selway, North Fork Clearwater and Clear Creek release sites. Nearly 650,000 steelhead smolts were released at Meadow Creek, Red House & Newsome Creek along the South Fork Clearwater river. Smolts were released to be sent on their way to the ocean. Chinook and steelhead were fed a total of over 300,000 lbs of food during their time at the hatchery....that's nearly 150 ton of fish food!

Catch a tagged fish at Hyde Pond and win a prize

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Kid’s Ice Fishing Derby at Hyde Pond has been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t try their luck – they may win a prize.

If a youth angler 16 years of age or younger catches a tagged rainbow trout from Hyde Pond, they can bring the tag in to the Salmon Fish and Game office and collect a prize. Prizes include fishing gear, tackle boxes, and rod and reel combinations.

“It’s been a crazy year, especially for kids, so we just wanted to continue a safe, outdoor fishing activity where they can have some fun,” said Kayden Estep, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologist based in Salmon.

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Kayden Estep - IDFG

Over 100 trout will be tagged from January 12 to February 7, and prize-winning tag returns will be accepted through May 31. The brightly-colored tags are on or slightly behind the dorsal fin.

Help protect wild birds from Salmonellosis by cleaning and removing bird feeders temporarily

Numerous states across the Pacific Northwest have reported birds dying from Salmonellosis. Finches, specifically pine siskins seem to be most vulnerable to Salmonellosis because of their social behavior to congregate in large flocks around feeders. Temporarily removing bird feeders for a couple of weeks and thoroughly cleaning feeders can help stop the spread.

Reflecting back on 2020: A year in review- Clearwater hatchery highlights

In March and April of 2020, Clearwater hatchery staff hauled over 3.5 million Chinook smolts to Red River, Powell, Selway, North Fork Clearwater and Clear Creek release sites. Nearly 650,000 steelhead smolts were released at Meadow Creek, Red House & Newsome Creek. Smolts were released at these locations to be sent on their way to the ocean. Chinook were fed a total of 203,321 lbs of food during their time at the hatchery and steelhead were fed 101,192 lbs of food! 

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Smolt release

Fish stocking

Hatchery staff stocked 119,019 rainbow trout across 22 different locations. Over 2,505 Tiger Trout were stocked into Deer Creek Reservoir, as well as 2,500 Brook Trout fingerlings. A total of 2,679 Channel Catfish were stocked between Mann Lake, Tolo Lake, and Winchester Lake.

Deer, elk and pronghorn hunters: Submit your mandatory harvest report by Jan. 31

Big game hunters have until January 31 to submit mandatory harvest reports and fulfill a crucial role in the management of Idaho’s big game herds. Hunters can submit their mandatory hunter report online at, or by calling 1-877-268-9365.

If you purchased a tag to hunt big game this year, whether you hunted and/or harvested or not, you must fill out a mandatory harvest report by the Jan. 31 deadline. The harvest data provided by hunters is an important component of the season-setting process that will take place in February and March of 2021.

Hunters can submit their mandatory hunter via computer at by entering their last name and tag number in the “Quick Access Hunter Reporting” section. Users with a smartphone can download the “Go Outdoors Idaho” app in the Apple App Store and Google Play, and submit their hunter report through the app by clicking “Purchase License” and following the same steps as above.

Hunters will need to have their tag number handy if they call in to report, and operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Here is a map of hunting units to help general season hunters identify the unit in which they hunted.

Why mandatory hunter reports are important

Mandatory hunter harvest reporting allows Fish and Game to better manage big game herds throughout the state. Wildlife managers need population data to develop sustainable harvest regulations, including — for example — an idea of herd sizes, sex and age ratios, how many animals are likely to be born and survive each year, and how many are likely to die.

Two bull elk killed illegally and left to waste in Gooding County

In late November, while a cow elk hunt was underway in the Smoky-Bennett Zone, two bull elk were illegally killed in separate incidents in Game Management Unit 45, north of Bliss, ID. Both elk were left to waste.

There were no antlered elk hunts in Unit 45 at the time of these poaching incidents.

On November 25, 2020 a small bull elk was found approximately 5 miles north of Bliss, ID on the west- side of Clover Creek Road. Fish and Game conservation officers who investigated this incident determined the bull was killed that afternoon. The majority of the elk was left to waste after the poaching incident. At this time, officers only know that the person of interest is a male, who was wearing a red flannel shirt.

Officers were again called to the area north of Bliss, ID on November 28, 2020 to investigate a spike elk that had been shot and left to waste. The elk was found south of Bray Lake off of Dead Horse Cave Road. It is believed that this bull was killed on November 27, 2020. Officers also found that two other elk had been killed close to the bull as evidenced by two gut piles left after field-dressing. It is believed that all three elk were killed at the same time.

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:

  • A “plugged” shotgun, or one capable of holding no more three shells total
  • 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).