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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: More Panhandle elk collared for study

A cow elk in the St. Joe River drainage is fixed with a GPS collar before being released.
A cow elk in the St. Joe River drainage is fixed with a GPS collar before being released.

WILDLIFE – At least 59 calf elk in the Idaho Panhandle have being captured by helicopter netters, fixed with GPS collars and released in the past few weeks as biologists continue research that will help determine how elk die.

A total of 169 cow and calf elk have been collared as the study heads into its third year, says Phil Cooper, state Fish and Game Department spokesman in Coeur d’Alene.

The collars enable researchers to monitor the elk movements by satellite and determine habitat use as well as when, where and how they might be killed.

“The study area includes big game Units 4, 6 and 7,” Cooper said. “The most recent capture work was completed in the Silver Valley, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River and the St. Joe River.”

“A unique signal is produced if a collar is stationary for 4 hours, tipping biologists off that there may be a dead elk,” Cooper said. “In that event, the collar can be located as soon as possible and biologists can often, but not always, determine the cause of death.”

Of the elk captured in 2014 and 2015, the annual cow survival rate has been 89 percent, he said. Calf survival has been 68 percent.

“New technology, such as the use of GPS collars, has changed wildlife management,” Cooper said. “New equipment and techniques have enabled better data collection and a better understanding of what is actually happening outside in all kinds of weather in both daylight and dark, all year long.”

Skijoring at 49 Degrees North

WINTERSPORTS – The groomed cross-country skiing trails at 49 Degrees North will be going to the dogs on Saturday.

Leashed dogs will be allowed at the Nordic Center and on the trails for skijoring all day long when accompanied by their human wearing a trail pass.

Gone to the Dogs and Skijor Day is part of the growing popularity of skijoring in which enthusiasts on skis are pulled by harnessed dogs.

Spokane Parks and Recreation has scheduled a skijoring clinic for Saturday at 49 Degrees North. Register at, (509) 625-6200.

Sled dog races at Priest Lake

WINTERSPORTS – The Priest Lake Sled Dog Races, which also include categories for skijoring with dogs, are set for Feb. 6-7. The annual event was founded in 1966 and organized by the Inland Empire Sled Dog Association.

Races will be held off Ravin Ranch Road and Highway 57 near Priest Lake, Idaho. Various categories range from novice and kids races to three-dog sprints and eight-dog 20 milers.


The events begin with a mandatory drivers meeting each morning at 8 a.m.

Idaho hunters OK tag auctions

HUNTING – A majority of Idaho hunters appear to support the state offering more big-game tags for auction to raise money for wildlife management, according to an Idaho Fish and Game Department query.

The voluntary mail survey pertaining to controlled hunts and big game auction tags was conducted late in 2015.

Asked if it was acceptable for Fish and Game to auction tags to generate funds for wildlife management programs, 55 percent of hunters in the mail survey agreed, 37 percent disagreed and 8 percent were neutral.

Asked if Fish and Game should release up to 12 more big game auction tags to help fund wildlife management and hunter access programs, 51 percent of mail responders agreed, 38 percent disagreed and 11 percent were neutral.

Hunters who buy raffle chances and auction tags help fund big-game management. Auction tags fetching bids of more than $100,000 have raised funds for research on diseases setting back Idaho’s bighorn sheep.

Sportsmen who have bid on auction tags or bought a chance at a bighorn sheep lottery tag have raised $2.9 million since 1998 for bighorn sheep restoration including disease research, transplants and habitat conservation, Idaho Fish and Game officials say.

Auctions for the ultimate bighorn sheep hunt in Idaho and other states and provinces will occur today through Saturday at the Wild Sheep Foundation Banquet and Auction in Reno, Nevada.

Online bids will be accepted.

See a new video about wildlife biologists’ research on diseases and efforts to helping wild sheep repopulate the western landscape on the Idaho Fish and Game Website,

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