HUNTING -- The 2016 big-game hunting seasons have a lot to offer in the Idaho Panhandle, according to this promising report from Wayne Wakkinen, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager.
The mild winter resulted in high over-winter survival of big game. We are currently monitoring about 130 collared elk in Units 4, 6, and 7. Adult cow survival is around 96% and survival of 6-month old calves that we collared in January is about 76%. Both survival rates are very encouraging. (look for more specifics on this topic to come later).The mild winter made it tougher for predators, specifically cougars and wolves, to make kills. Elk are spread wider across their winter range and are much more mobile during mild winters.The winter helicopter surveys indicated high calf survival. Calf:cow ratios averaged over 30 calves per 100 cows in Units 4, 6, and the lower portion of 7. In the Calder area of Unit 6 we found over 40 calves:100 cows. These results, combined with the 6-month calf survival from the radio-collared elk, should result in a good number of spikes this fall.Conditions in the field this year are a lot better than last year. Remember all that smoke from the fires? Southern Idaho has some active fires (unfortunately in an area in which I drew a muzzleloader permit) but unlike last year, there are currently no large active fires in the Panhandle. But remember, conditions are still hot and dry, so be careful out there.