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Idaho House Delays Computer Plan

The Idaho House delayed passage of the Fish and Game Department’s plans to move into computerized sales of hunting and fishing licenses.

Sponsors said Fish and Game hopes to install terminals at the 575 locations where people buy hunting and fishing licenses so licenses can be issued instantly. It would cost sportsmen an extra 50 cents. To save money, many vendors who also sell lottery tickets will be able to use the same equipment to issue licenses.

The system would cost $1.5 million and generate about $900,000 a year.

Rep. Tom Dorr, R-Post Falls, said he didn’t think Fish and Game would spend the income appropriately.

Rep. John Tippets, R-Bennington, said if vendors don’t already have a computer line installed, it will cost them $7 per week.

“For the large vendors, there’s a tremendous benefit,” he said. “But small vendors oppose it.”

Disease not found in Henry’s Fork

Initial surveys of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River found no whirling disease, the parasitic infection that ravaged the rainbow trout population in a stretch of Montana’s Madison River.

“It’s good news, that’s for sure,” said Mark Gamblin, Region 6 fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

But Gamblin remained cautious about the health of the world-famous fishery.

“It’s encouraging because we haven’t detected the parasite, but we want to be very clear with the public that this doesn’t mean the river is clear of whirling disease,” he said. “We can’t conclude, at this time, that whirling disease is absent from the drainage.”

Gamblin said the search for whirling disease will continue because the threat to the river is constant.

“More than likely we will see whirling disease in the drainage at some time in the future,” he said.

Whirling disease afflicts trout and salmon. The parasite, which is harbored by aquatic worms called tubifex, attacks the cartilage of young trout. And while it does not kill the fish, it makes them more vulnerable to other diseases and environmental stresses. Most other species of trout and salmon are susceptible, but brown trout appear to be resistant.