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Posts tagged: Idaho Fish & Game

F&G commission declines to modify trapping rules after 2 dogs killed in traps in North Idaho, calls for trapper ed instead

Rather than making new rules to restrict trapping in Idaho, state Fish and Game commissioners say they prefer to have trappers take educational classes to reduce the chance that dogs will be caught in deadly body-gripping traps, S-R reporter Scott Maben reports today. Meeting this morning in Post Falls, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission declined to move forward with proposals to restrict the use of “conibear” traps, which killed two dogs in North Idaho last winter.

“I think this whole issue is emotional right now, and I hate to see rules and laws come out of emotion,” said Commissioner Mark Doerr. You can read Maben’s full story here at

Coho salmon season to open on Clearwater after unprecedented recovery

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho officials have approved a coho salmon fishing season on the Clearwater River following efforts by the Nez Perce Tribe to bring the salmon back after they disappeared about 30 years ago. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday approved the historic sport fishing season that starts Friday and runs through Nov. 16. Anglers will be allowed to keep two coho salmon per day and up to 10 for the month-long season on portions of the Mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River. Coho salmon disappeared by 1985 from the Clearwater River. The Nez Perce Tribe in 1995 began efforts to restore them using eggs from other locations. As of Tuesday, nearly 15,000 coho salmon had passed Lower Granite Dam.

Click below for the full announcement from the Idaho Fish & Game Commission.

South Fork flows to jump next week, for post-fire fish habitat restoration

Flows in the South Fork of the Boise River will jump next week as part of a project to recover fish habitat in areas impacted by heavy sedimentation after last year's Elk and Pony Complex fires. Idaho Fish & Game reports that the river's volume from Anderson Ranch Reservoir will rise by 400 cubic feet per second on Monday, and another 300 cfs Tuesday, then remain at 2,400 cfs for eight days; by Aug. 29, the flows will drop back to 1,700 cfs.

A multi-agency team developed the project to mimic spring runoff, which normally would help clear out sediment and debris after fires; flows in the South Fork of the Boise are regulated by dams that store water for irrigation and flood control, so that didn't just naturally happen. The idea is to do it now at a time when water is available; Fish & Game, the Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the University of Idaho and Trout Unlimited all are cooperating in the project. Click below for a full announcement from Fish & Game.

Catching up on the news…

Catching up from the past week’s news while I was gone:

There was a major development in the race for state Superintendent of Schools, as the Idaho Association of School Administrators invited both candidates to speak and answer questions at a high-profile forum at its annual conference in Boise last Monday. Democratic nominee Jana Jones spoke and answered questions from the 460 school administrators in attendance, but GOP nominee Sherri Ybarra declined the invitation. During the conference, Idaho EdNews reporter Clark Corbin spotted Ybarra in the same downtown Boise neighborhood having coffee; she told Corbin she was waiting to meet with a Republican legislator and her schedule was too busy to attend the IASA conference; you can read his Monday report here, which includes reporting on Jones’ call at the conference for building a new education coalition.

Two days later, Ybarra issued a press release criticizing the Idaho EdNews story, saying she planned to attend the IASA conference as a participant later in the week. She also met with reporters and said a doctor’s appointment was among her schedule conflicts on Monday, and announced that 10 GOP lawmakers and a group of educators had endorsed her but said she wouldn’t immediately name them. There’s more on that herehere and here.

Meanwhile, this year’s Idaho Superintendent of the Year Chuck Shackett, a high-profile supporter of the voter-rejected “Students Come First” school reform laws - which Jones strongly opposed - and prominent Republican, endorsed Jones. “I trust Jana completely,” Shackett said Tuesday, hours after he was honored as superintendent of the year; he noted that when Jones, former chief deputy state superintendent, left the State Department of Education, he tried to hire her to head the Bonneville School District’s special education programs.

In other news last week, data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that Idaho residents have among the lowest personal incomes in the nation but spend a higher percentage of their money on food, housing and other essentials. AP reporter Rebecca Boone reported that Idahoans had to spend more than 43 percent of their income on the basics; only Mississippi was higher. You can read her full report here.

Former longtime Idaho Statesman political columnist and reporter Dan Popkey talked with Boise State Public Radio on why he made the switch to become 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador's new press secretary; his interview with BSPR's Scott Graf is online here.

Severe thunderstorms on Wednesday caused large amounts of sediment to flow into the South Fork of the Salmon River, killing 1,200 adult Chinook salmon at an Idaho Fish & Game trapping facility and also killing some Chinook in the river; about 200 adult Chinook were saved and transferred to a hatchery near Riggins. Because summer Chinook run in a four-year cycle, the kill is expected to result in significantly fewer of the fish returning to the South Fork in 2018.

And the Idaho Transportation Department on Friday issued a permit to Bigge Crane for a giant megaload of equipment bound for a Great Falls, Mont. oil refinery to travel up Highway 95 and across the Long Bridge to Sandpoint in North Idaho; it’s expected to reach Sandpoint around the middle of this week. Originally, the load was proposed to be hauled along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive en route to Montana by Mammoet, but the need for a federal environmental assessment derailed that plan; the equipment, already shipped to the Port of Wilma, then was cut into three parts, with two of them shipped by rail. The third, which is 21 feet wide, 16 feet 8 inches high and 311 feet long, weighs up to 1.086 million pounds; ITD says it will travel between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

‘Selfie’ seekers spook bull elk in Garden City, force F&G to relocate it

Folks snapping “selfies” with a bull elk that was foraging for food in a vacant lot in Garden City last night caused the antlered animal to become spooked and take off gallivanting through Garden City. “Spectators … were getting too close to the elk,” according to an Idaho Fish & Game news release. “This interaction caused the stress which led to the young bull running through the Garden City neighborhood, including Veterans Parkway,” which is a big, busy thoroughfare with heavy traffic.

F&G Conservation Office Bill London said, “When people get this close to a wild animal, the stress not only creates potential harm to the animal and to the public, the increased adrenaline can also make it difficult to tranquilize an animal.” Garden City Police and Fish & Game officials responded to the 9:15 p.m. call, and the elk eventually was tranquilized and loaded into a horse trailer, and driven to a more placid location north of Horseshoe Bend. There, it was released unharmed.

Idaho Fish & Game agrees to consider trapping restrictions after dogs killed

After two dogs were killed in traps while out on walks with their owners in North Idaho this winter – and amid increasing incidents of dogs being caught in traps statewide – Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission has agreed to look at new rules to restrict certain trapping practices. “The tragedy of those two dogs is just that, an absolute tragedy,” said Brad Corkill, the Panhandle representative on the Fish and Game Commission.

Idaho won’t ban trapping – it’s enshrined in the state Constitution, thanks to a hunting rights amendment overwhelmingly approved by the state’s voters in 2012 – but it’s working to find reasonable restrictions on certain types of traps to allow trapping to continue while protecting pets. The Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously last week to enter negotiated rule-making with stakeholders for new restrictions on “conibear” or body-gripping traps placed on the ground; both North Idaho dogs were killed within a minute by baited conibear traps set out to catch bobcats. You can read my full story here at, and watch an 8-minute video here from Idaho Fish & Game on how to release your dog from a trap.

Ruckus along the river revolves around rattled young moose

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State wildlife officials say Tuesday afternoon they have tranquilized a moose on the east side of Boise and are moving it to a remote area. Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler says the 400-pound yearling has been living on the east side of the city but has recently started moving toward downtown. Keckler says it was a dangerous situation because moose are large animals and that area of the city has a popular path on both sides of the river that draws walkers, runners and bikers. He says officials had to remove a moose from the east side of Boise last year but it's not clear if it's the same moose. State Conservation Officer Bill London said it was doubtful the moose would return to the city.

Today’s moose apprehension was quite the event, after the female moose became agitated and escaped police, firefighters and biologists for more than an hour, KTVB reporter Katie Terhune reports.

The animal swam in the Boise River, roamed the banks, grazed on green lawns and prompted a Greenbelt closure and even the evacuation of several nearby businesses; see Terhune's full report here. People with offices in the area were treated to quite a show, and the moose chase and takedown generated a big buzz on social media.

F&G plan to poison 4,000 ravens put off ‘til next year

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A plan by state wildlife biologists to kill 4,000 ravens in three Idaho areas this spring by feeding them poisoned chicken eggs has been scrapped due to federal environmental permitting delays. The Times-News reports ( in a story on Monday that Idaho Fish and Game officials won't start the two-year program this spring aimed at boosting sage grouse numbers. State officials say U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services is the only entity in the state with permission to administer the poison. Jeff Gould of Fish and Game says the federal agency didn't get a supplemental environmental assessment completed on time to put out the poison. He says putting out poison during the summer isn't as effective because ravens aren't gathered in large numbers. He says poisoning now is planned to begin next spring.

Wild tom turkey reported strutting around downtown Boise in search of mate

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State wildlife biologists aren't sure where a wild male turkey came from, but there's no denying it has decided to call downtown Boise home. Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Liebenthal says the agency has been getting reports this week about the bird that has been making appearances in various downtown locations. Liebenthal says it's turkey mating season so the turkey might have traveled to the frenetic downtown Boise area in search of a mate. Liebenthal says that might also explain why the bird tends to stare at its own reflection, possibly sizing up a perceived competitor. Jeff Plegge spotted the turkey and describes him as very photogenic with a tendency to pose. Wildlife officials say that if they capture him they'll move him to a more suitable location.

Poachers killing more Idaho game animals than wolves are, officials say

Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in northern Idaho say. Officials tell the Lewiston Tribune ( in a story on Friday that last year in northern Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer, according to an AP report from the Tribune. Officials say a realistic detection rate is 5 percent, meaning poachers are likely killing about 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer and 1,000 whitetail annually.

“It's real easy for people to blow a gasket about wolf predation,” said Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer George Fischer. “They are very passionate about it, they are very irate about it and they are livid about it. Yet there is a two-legged wolf out there that is probably killing as many or more than wolves. Wolves are causing an impact, there is no doubt about it; I don't want to downplay that at all, but two-legged wolves are probably killing more or stealing more game than wolves. That is the shock-and-awe message.”

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler says poachers strike throughout Idaho. “Poaching is an issue throughout the state,” he said. Click below for the full AP/Lewiston Trib report.

F&G chief: Wilderness wolf hunt was called off because it was no longer being effective

Idaho Fish & Game Director Virgil Moore, who made his budget presentation to lawmakers this morning, said afterward that the department called off its professional hunt for wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness yesterday because “we had been ineffective in the last two weeks on taking any additional wolves.” The hunt had taken nine wolves in the area since the operation began in December. “The analysis the staff has done tells us we’re near where we want to be with take in there,” Moore said, between the department’s operation and sport hunting and trapping in the area, though “we went in there with the expectation of staying longer.”

Moore said, “I hope that allows us to continue to have a conversation about our management actions for elk.” Conservationists challenged the operation under the Wilderness Act, but their initial court challenge was unsuccessful. Moore called the wilderness operation “very similar” to past years’ efforts in the Lolo zone to reduce wolf numbers, though those relied mainly on aerial shooting and trapping. The operation in the Frank Church wilderness “differed because we put one of our folks back there,” he said.

“Evaluation of the cost-benefit is what led to the staff decision to pull folks out of there,” Moore said. Click below for last night's full AP report on the end of the operation.

Idaho Fish & Game pulls professional wolf hunter from Frank Church wilderness

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho wildlife managers called off a professional wolf hunter who has been killing predators inside a federal wilderness area. Department of Fish and Wildlife Monday said it was halting the hunt after nine wolves were killed since December, with none in the past two weeks. It had planned to keep hunter Gus Thoreson of Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this winter as it sought reduce wolves and bolster low elk populations there. Wolf advocates initially lost their bid for a court order to force Thoreson to quit hunting wolves from his base on U.S. Forest Service territory. On Monday, however, they contended their continued pressure — they'd appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — helped convince Fish and Game to end the hunt.

Click below for Fish & Game's full announcement.

Wild turkeys abound in Idaho, but they’re not native - F&G introduced them in ‘61…

Here’s something to ponder as Thanksgiving approaches: Wild turkeys are found across Idaho, and there’s even an open hunting season on them right now up in the North Idaho Panhandle. But they’re not native to the state. Turkeys actually were introduced by Idaho Fish & Game in 1961, a move that once was a common part of wildlife management in the state. The Fish & Game photo above shows the first turkey release in '61.

“Turkeys have adapted so well in northern Idaho, they have become a nuisance in some locations,” Idaho Fish & Game reports. “Yet few turkeys are found in the Salmon Region, because little habitat is suitable there. Wild turkey populations in Idaho are largely found in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest regions and parts of the Southeast Region.”

Other species Fish & Game has introduced over its 75-year history include chukar, Gambel’s quail, California quail, walleye, crappie, bluegill and tiger muskie. But there have been some that haven’t gone so well, too, including the introduction of mysis shrimp in North Idaho lakes, which shifted the lakes’ ecosystem in ways that hurt native bull trout and kokanee; and the introduction long ago of brook trout, which then competed with native fish species.

Reports Fish & Game, “As the science of managing fish and wildlife has evolved, the practice of introducing new species to Idaho, without extensive analysis, is largely seen as a naïve and outdated practice.” But the turkeys are still here.

A bull-and-bear day in Boise?

Two animal incidents marked the news yesterday in Boise: A bear found wandering in the North End, which was tranquilized and taken off to the forest north of Lowman for release; and a bull rampaging down the Greenbelt in Eagle after breaking out of its pasture. Initially, authorities warned people to beware on the Greenbelt near Merrill Park yesterday morning as they hunted for the bull, but no capture was ever reported. “They didn’t seem very concerned by yesterday afternoon,” said Ada County Sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Orr. “It was swimming in the river. … They were pretty confident it was going to swim back to the pasture it broke out of.”

The black bear, pictured above, was first sighted around 7:30 Thursday morning behind the Boise VA hospital on Fort Street; it then led sheriff’s deputies and Fish & Game officers on a few hours of “hide and seek,” Orr reported, before the F&G officers were able to get close enough to tranquilize it. Fish & Game warned that dry conditions in the mountains could drive bears to visit town over the next few months, so they advise those living near the foothills to keep trash sealed up and don’t leave food outside. 

New F&G commissioner: ‘Make sure generations that come after have access to same experiences’

“I tie my own flies, load my own ammunition, I shoot a long bow, I shoot a muzzle loader, I’ve got a bass boat,” new North Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner Brad Corkill said today. “I’ve carried a firearm in the fall every year since I was 8 years old. … I just want to make sure that all the generations that come after me have access to the same experiences I’ve had.”

Corkill, 62, is a former longtime school board member in Kellogg and St. Maries, served as Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chairman from 2006 to 2010, and is the incoming president of CASA, the court-appointed special advocate program that advocates for children who end up in protective custody. He served six years on the state’s charter school commission, a position he had to resign to join the Fish and Game Commission.

“I’m pleased that I got chosen,” Corkill said. “It’s been a long time goal of mine to do this just because I’m so passionate about the issues. I hope I can do a good job.” You can read my full story here at

Otter names two new Idaho Fish & Game commissioners

Gov. Butch Otter has named two new Idaho Fish & Game commissioners: Brad Corkill, owner of Whiteman Lumber Co. in Cataldo, and Mark Doerr of Kimberly, owner of Precision Aviation Inc. in Twin Falls. “Both men are avid sportsmen,” the governor's announcement says.

Corkill replaces Panhandle Commissioner Tony McDermott of Sagle, whose term expired June 30; Doerr replaces Magic Valley Commissioner Joan Hurlock of Buhl, whose appointment to the commission - where she was the second-ever woman to serve - was rejected by the Idaho Senate this year, where critics complained she wasn't a sufficiently avid hunter and angler.

Both new appointees will be up for Senate confirmation when the Legislature convenes in January. Corkill served as Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chairman from 2006 to 2010. Click below for Otter's full announcement.

Idaho Fish & Game salvage order lifts all fishing limits on a stretch of Big Wood River, starting Mon.

It’s happening again – a salvage order lifting all bag, possession and size limits on a specified water to allow people to catch all the fish there before they die, due to drought and poor runoff. This time, it’s for the Big Wood River below the Richfield Canal headgate, and the Richfield Canal itself. Starting July 1 – Monday – anyone with a valid Idaho fishing license will be allowed to catch as many fish as they want there. Idaho Fish & Game says, “Fish may be taken by any method except firearms, explosives, chemicals or electric current.”

The salvage order covers the Big Wood River downstream from the Richfield Canal Diversion, the Richfield Canal downstream to the Gooding County line and the Richfield and Lincoln Canal systems. The Magic Reservoir Dam was shut off June 27, Fish & Game reports, as demand for irrigation water exceeded the reservoir capacity, leading to the falling water levels in the river and canals.

Mountain lion attacked dogs in three adjacent fenced back yards in Surprise Valley, two of the dogs died…

Three next-door neighbors in east Boise have had their small dogs attacked by a mountain lion in their fenced back yards in the past two weeks, and two of the dogs have died. Fish & Game officials are calling on the public to immediately report incidents with mountain lions in town. The three attacks happened at Surprise Valley, a neighborhood on the city’s eastern edge that backs up to native sagebrush land; it’s the first mountain lion incident reported in Boise this spring, but the city’s had plenty in recent years. You can read my full story here at

“We have mountain lions in Boise all the time,” said Evin Oneale, Southwest Idaho regional conservation educator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “They come and go all the time. Some of them we see, some of them we don’t, but they don’t tend to cause any issues or hang around. It’s when we have a lion like this that exhibits this kind of behavior that our awareness of the situation becomes heightened.”

Fish & Game learned of the big cat when a Surprise Valley resident called the sheriff’s department yesterday morning. She’d let her two Yorkshire terriers out into her backyard about 5:30 a.m., and a few minutes later, heard a yelp; click below to read more.

Fish & Game backs delisting grizzlies in Idaho

The Idaho Fish & Game Commission, at its meeting late last week in Coeur d’Alene, voted to support the removal of grizzly bears in Idaho from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, saying the bears have recovered sufficiently and now are starting to move into areas where there are increasing conflicts with humans. Tony McDermott, Panhandle Region commissioner, said, “Idaho can manage the bears better.”

The commissioners adopted a position statement saying that state has the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in place to manage grizzly bears, and that people in Idaho would be more tolerant of bears if the state were managing them. “Key to the success of this effort is effective and efficient management of bear-human conflict,” the statement said.

It also said if delisting were to occur, the commission would continue to act to ensure sustainable grizzly bear populations in the occupied core habitats that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has identified in Idaho. You can read the full statement here.

Fish & Game: Go catch all the fish you want at Little Camas Res before it’s drained

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game today issued a “salvage order” for Little Camas Reservoir in Elmore County, lifting all bag, possession and size limits. That’s because the reservoir is headed for a draining by early summer for irrigation, and Fish & Game “would like the public to use as many of the fish as possible.” Fish may be taken, F&G announced, “by any method except firearms, explosives, chemicals or electric current.”

The order takes effect on Tuesday, May 7, and runs through Sept. 30. F&G cautioned anglers that regular limits remain in place elsewhere, including possession limits. So if someone caught 20 trout at Little Camas, which historically has been known for its trout fishery, and then moved elsewhere to do more fishing and brought the 20 fish along, they’d be in violation of the possession limit at the new fishing spot. Another thing to note: Fishing licenses still are required.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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