Press Release

February 2022

Application period for F&G Commission Community Challenge Grants is open until April 15

Application period is March 1 through April 15. Grants provide funding opportunities for officially recognized nonprofit organizations to implement projects that are broadly supported by the local sporting community and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, populations, or associated recreational opportunities.

Fish and Game and Idaho Power Company test hatchery Snake River white sturgeon to ensure they can reproduce in the wild

The first year-class of white sturgeon reared in the new Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery recently underwent genetic testing to ensure that all fish released into the Snake River are capable of reproducing. These fish are unique from a typical hatchery fish, like rainbow trout, which are typically sterile when they are stocked so they can’t successfully spawn with wild fish.

The main goal of sturgeon conservation efforts at the Niagara Springs hatchery is to ensure sturgeon populations in the Snake River are healthy and can continue to support recreational sport fishing.

Eggs for this hatchery program are collected from natural spawning sturgeon in the Snake River between Bliss Dam and CJ Strike reservoir. Once collected, the eggs are brought back to the Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery where they are reared for one year.

Prior to release, all sturgeon raised at the hatchery are marked by removing a single scute, or bony plate on their side and a small PIT tag is inserted under the skin. The mark will identify the fish as having a PIT tag which will give biologists, who may handle the fish years later, information about their age, stocking date and size at stocking.

F&G fish hatcheries are back open for public tours

Idaho Fish & Game's fish hatcheries are back open to the public for tours. Check out Fish and Game's website for a full list and visit a hatchery near you. Some of the activities available include facility tours, self-guided tours with educational kiosks, feeding fish, or simply a nature walk around the hatchery. 

Timber harvest scheduled for portions of McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area beginning March 1

A bit of change is on the horizon for McArthur Lake WMA in North Idaho’s Boundary County.  A multi-benefit forest management harvest is planned to begin on March 1 and will be completed as quickly as possible. 

F&G seeking information about mule deer illegally killed in Boise

Fish and Game conservation officers are asking the public for information regarding a two-point mule deer buck that was illegally killed in Boise on February 12, 2022.

Fish and Game conservation officer Joshua Leal responded to a report of a dead deer on Goddard St., near Capital High School, on the morning of February 13. Evidence collected at the scene and during a necropsy led officers to believe that the animal was illegally shot sometime the night before.

“This deer was shot near the high school and in an area that is surrounded by residences and frequently has a lot of vehicle traffic,” Leal said. “We are asking people who may have seen suspicious activity around Capital High School on the night of Feb. 12 to contact us with that information.”

Information leading to charges being filed would be eligible for a reward from the Citizens Against Poaching program. Anyone with information can call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999, or report it online. Individuals providing information can remain anonymous.

 

Fish and Game conducting deer and pronghorn capture operations in the Magic Valley

Over the next week Fish and Game biologists from the Magic Valley Region will be conducting capture operations of mule deer and pronghorn from a low-flying helicopter. Both deer and pronghorn will be captured using net guns deployed by a gunner in the helicopter. Once captured, the animals will be fitted with GPS radio collars that will allow biologists to track migration patterns, habitat use and survival over the coming months. Data collected from the GPS collars will allow Fish and Game to provide technical assistance to agencies and businesses that need this information to make informed land-use decisions.

Capture operations will occur almost exclusively on public land with very limited operations on private property with landowner permission. The areas of capture will occur north of the interstate in the Hunt, Eden and Hazelton areas, north towards Shoshone and Dietrich, and west towards Gooding and Bliss.

The goal is to collar 40 mule deer and 35 adult pronghorn over the next week.

When actively pursuing wildlife from the helicopter chase times are limited to three minutes, although are generally less than one minute. Once captured, it takes approximately 10 minutes to collar and take physical information from each animal. Capture operations are one-time events designed to cause minimal stress on wildlife on winter range. Biologists attempt to avoid repeatedly stressing wildlife while conducting captures on winter range since the cumulative impacts of multiple disturbances can result in increased mortality.

Big game capture projects have been ongoing across Idaho for many years, but this project is one of the first collaring projects to occur in this area which will provide valuable baseline information about both mule deer and pronghorn within the Magic Valley.

For more information about big game capture contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.

Hunters can comment on proposed changes for 2022 deer and elk seasons from Feb. 22 through March 13

Hunters and other interested parties can comment on proposed changes to the 2022 deer and elk seasons from Feb. 22 through March 13. Proposals are in response to the first-ever detection of Chronic Wasting Disease in Unit 14, as well as a recurrence of another disease that unexpectedly reduced whitetails herds in Clearwater Region. The commission is scheduled to decide on changes at its March 23-24 meeting at 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise.

Most hunt changes are prompted by CWD detection

Fish and Game officials discovered six cases of CWD in deer and elk in Unit 14, and wildlife managers are proposing hunt changes there to slow, the spread of CWD. The goal is to keep the prevalence low, which is the number of animals within herds that have the disease, and prevent, or slow, its spread into other areas.

Fish and Game’s 2021 CWD testing showed the amount of disease – or prevalence – is estimated to be less than 2 percent for deer and likely less in elk. Research from others states has shown that keeping the prevalence rate less than 5 percent can slow its spread, but when CWD prevalence rates increase above 5 percent, the disease is more likely to rapidly spread within a  herd and also expand geographically.

“Structuring hunts to achieve lower densities of deer, and younger age classes within herds, has also shown to slow the geographic spread of CWD and hold prevalence at current levels or lower,” Fish and Game State Game Manager Rick Ward said.

Proposed hunt change options

Increase mule deer harvest in Unit 14

Option 1: Increase antlered mule deer controlled hunt tags from 180 to 400 tags with the hunting season running from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Option 2: Replace existing antlered controlled hunt (180 tags) with a general-season, antlered-only hunt from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Feb. 22 Upper Salmon River Steelhead Fishing Report

Fish and Game personnel began interviewing steelhead anglers between the Middle Fork Salmon River confluence and Challis during the week of February 14th. Angler effort increased slightly during the weekend but was relatively low throughout the week. The highest amount of angler effort was observed in location code 17 between the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi rivers.

Catch rates varied depending on location. The best catch rates last week were observed in location code 17 where anglers averaged 6 hours per steelhead caught. Only two anglers were interviewed downstream of the Middle Fork Salmon River in location code 14, and they averaged 8 hours per steelhead caught. No anglers reported catching a steelhead in location code 15 between the Middle Fork Salmon River and North Fork, and one angler interviewed between North Fork and the Lemhi River in location code 16 reported catching a steelhead which resulted in an averaged catch rate of 30 hours per steelhead.

The Deadwater ice jam is still in place, and once it goes out we will issue a separate report to notify anglers.

River conditions changed considerably throughout the week due to unseasonably warm weather that moved into the area. Over the weekend, the river had clear to slightly cloudy visibility upstream of Deadwater and muddy visibility downstream of Deadwater. On Sunday, river temperatures downstream of Deadwater were in the low 30s while river temperatures upstream in location codes 16 and 17 were in the low 40s. Colder temperatures moved back into the area Monday night and as of Tuesday morning, frazil ice was flowing through the town of Salmon. Currently the Salmon River is flowing at 854 cfs through the town of Salmon, which is 78 percent of average for today's date.

F&G Citizen Shooting Range Advisory Committee to meet Feb. 24

Citizen Shooting Range Advisory Committee will meet online at 6 p.m.on Feb. 24 via Zoom, or people can attend in person 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise to observe the meeting online. No public comment will be taken at the meeting. 

People can join the Zoom meeting by logging onto: https://zoom.us/j/92207944972

Meeting ID: 922 0794 4972

Or people can listen by phone by calling (669) 900-9128. 

Meeting Agenda (Times Approximate)

  • 6:00 pm: Staff and Committee member welcome, (Adam Park, IDFG Communications and Marketing Bureau Chief)
  • 6:15 pm: Committee review of February 9, 2022 meeting, (Brenda Beckley, IDFG Hunter Angler Recruitment and Retention Manager)
  • 7:15 pm: Review and discussion of Range Grant applications.

Committee members will be participating by videoconference or in-person, which the Department is hosting at the above physical location.

Shed hunt responsibly to protect big game animals

Armed with nothing more than a good set of eyes, looking for a deer or elk’s shed antlers in late-winter and early-spring is a highly accessible hobby for those squirming like birddogs for the next outdoor adventure. But don’t jump the gun on shed hunting season and disturb wintering deer and elk.