IDFG and Idaho Parks team up to offer loaner fishing gear

Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is eager to announce a new partnership with the Idaho Fish and Game: The State Park Fishing Equipment Loaner Program.

The program, which will include six parks, is aimed to increase awareness of the many fishing opportunities within Idaho’s state parks. With fishing locations at, or near, most parks, IDPR and Fish and Game wanted to eliminate some of the barriers that might coincide with those interested in fishing — such as lack of equipment. Each of the participating parks will receive 16 rods and will have access to tackle and bait for park visitors.

The first six parks will be piloting the program for the season; both agencies hope to increase the number of participating parks in the coming years.

If you are interested in the State Park Fishing Equipment Loaner Program, visit idfg.idaho.gov or parksandrecreation.idaho.gov or stop by one of the following Idaho state parks:

  • Round Lake State Park near Sagle
  • Priest Lake State Park near Coolin
  • Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park near Cataldo
  • Winchester Lake State Park near Winchester
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park near Bruneau
  • Henrys Lake State Park near Island Park

“Idaho Fish and Game is excited to partner with Idaho Parks and Recreation on a project to help park visitors take advantage of the abundant fishing opportunities available in our state parks and surrounding areas,” said Ian Malepeai, Fish and Game marketing director. “We see a natural synergy to raise the awareness of the fantastic fishing in Idaho and providing park visitors with fishing equipment to enjoy additional activities on their visit.”

Participants over the age of 14 will need a fishing license while using the loaner rods. Licenses can be purchased online, by phone, at any Fish and Game office, or at various convenience stores and outdoor retailers across the state — $11.50 for a daily pass or $30.50 for an annual license.

The program is just in time for Free Fishing Day, which will be June 8 — during which you can fish anywhere in the state without a license. Keep in mind, all rules and catch limits still apply.

Bear hunters in Southeast Idaho take note: Spring bear hunt rules for 2018 still in effect

Recently approved big game hunting seasons and rules, which included expanding bear hunting opportunity in Southeast Idaho, take effect July 1.

In March, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission set big game hunting seasons and rules for 2019-2021, which included expanding bear hunting opportunity in the Southeast Region. With spring bear hunts upon us, hunters are reminded that bear hunting regulations this spring are the same as they were in spring 2018. The recent changes to bear hunting regulations in Southeast Idaho are not applicable until after the approved big game rules take effect July 1, 2019.

Specifically, harvest of black bears in Units 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, and 78 is illegal during the upcoming spring bear hunt. Harvest opportunities for black bears in those units will begin Fall 2019.

“We don’t want to see well-intentioned hunters inadvertently breaking the rules, ” says Jennifer Jackson, regional communications manager with Idaho Fish and Game’s Southeast Region. “Folks need to remember that the spring 2019 bear hunting season was set two years ago during the prior season setting process.”

The 2019-2021 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules brochure will be available online at idfg.idaho.gov sometime in early April and at Fish and Game license vendors soon thereafter.

Project WILD workshop coming to Pocatello

How would you like to be a “WILD teacher”? A “WILD teacher” is one who has participated in a Project WILD workshop presented by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Participants learn about wildlife and discover fun and exciting ways to teach wildlife conservation and ecological concepts in the classroom. Plus, it is a great way to earn a credit through an Idaho university.

Fish and Game’s next workshop, WILD About Early Learners, is geared for educators who work with youth, pre-kindergarten through second grade. This workshop will run April 5 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and continue April 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Fish and Game office in Pocatello, 1345 Barton Road.

The fee for WILD About Early Learners is $40. Optional university credit is available for $60 to $75 through most Idaho universities. An outside assignment is required for those who are taking the workshop for credit.

To register online, visit idfg.idaho.gov/education/project-wild/introductory. You can also register by contacting Lori Adams, Project WILD coordinator, at 208-863-3236 or via email at lori.adams@idfg.idaho.gov.

Workshop participants will receive three activity guides with over 150 wildlife-related activities, all of which are correlated to Idaho State Education standards. Participants will be exposed to modified Project WILD activities to fit the needs of a younger audience — incorporating science, art, math, vocabulary, music and movement, home connections, and much more!

Project WILD workshops are ideal for all types of educators — schoolteachers, 4-H leaders, scout leaders, docents, interpreters for zoos, homeschool educators — anyone who is involved in sharing conservation education with others. And Project WILD isn’t just for the science educators. Even if you teach math, art, PE, or run the library at your school, there is something for you in Project WILD!

Sportsmen Against Hunger event set for Jan. 26

CHUBBUCK — The 12th annual Sportsmen Against Hunger event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 26 at C-A-L Ranch in the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck.

Those who attend can help raise money for The Idaho Foodbank in Southeast Idaho by playing a fun corn hole game made just for this event with the high scorers winning prizes.

Participants buy a game card to take to each of the booths stationed throughout the store. Once the game card has been stamped at each booth, participants can try their skills at the corn hole toss. Cost to play is $10 for one try and $20 for three tries. All proceeds will be donated to the Idaho Foodbank.

In addition to hosting the event, C-A-L Ranch is once again donating some amazing prizes. The top prizes this year will be a new Sig Sauer AR-15, a Liberty gun safe and a pellet gun specifically for kids aged 12 and under.

The event booths will be staffed by local sportsmen’s groups and community organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, and fighting community issues like hunger. Booths will share information and displays, offer raffles, and provide some fun items and activities for kids, such as the Idaho Fish and Game’s laser shot simulated hunting game

Expect to see the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Backcountry Horsemen, Gate City Shooting Association, Delta Waterfowl, Pocatello Animal Shelter, POW*MIA, Southeast Idaho Fly Fishers, KZBQ, Idaho Fish and Game, and others.

This event is a great way to have fun with the family, win some awesome prizes and make a difference for the Idaho Foodbank and those they serve in southeast Idaho.

Mountain lion take season closed in units 75, 77, and 78

The take season for mountain lion has closed in Game Management Units 75, 77 and 78 in Southeast Idaho effective Monday. The 2017-18 Big Game Seasons and Rules states that the mountain lion take season is to be closed when four female mountain lions have been harvested. This harvest limit has been met. The dog training season will remain open in these units through March 31.


Hunters will be allowed to keep mountain lions taken in units 75, 77 and 78 prior to this closure and must report them within five days of harvest.

As a reminder, the take season for mountain lion also closed in units 71, 72 and 74 on Dec. 6.

Up to date information on whether a quota has been met or the season has been closed for a particular game management unit anywhere in the state can be obtained by visiting idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/harvest-quotas or by calling 1-800-323-4334.

Studying wildlife ecology through road-killed animals

Hilary Turner works for the Idaho Fish and Game Department as a roadside carcass surveyor in the Upper Snake Region. She drives U.S. Highway 20 from Idaho Falls to the Montana border searching for carcasses and collecting data.

“Why?” you may ask.

Ecology is the study of interactions and relationships between organisms and their environments. Road ecology is an emerging science in which scientists study the ecological effects of roads, which Turner does by collecting data on road kills.

From two-tracks to interstates, most people use some kind of road in their daily lives. The United States alone contains 4.12 million miles of road (2.68 million paved miles) and the ecological effects (direct and indirect) of this transportation system are vast.

The ecological effects of roads have been studied in Idaho since at least the late 1960s, when Fish and Game documented the effects of the completion and opening of Interstate 84 in southern Idaho on the migratory Sublett mule deer herd. The freeway opened in November 1969, and in the next six weeks, 18 mule deer were killed by vehicles.

For a herd that historically migrated southwest from summer range in the Sublett Mountains to winter range in the Black Pine Mountains, I-84 became an impediment to migration. Some animals were unable, or unwilling, to cross the freeway, and many were killed as they attempted to cross it.

The interstate altered their migration route, and many deer remained on the east side of the freeway and spent winters near Snowville, Utah. That winter range had insufficient forage for deer, and during the following winters, an estimated 40 percent of the herd died of malnutrition.

In an attempt to pass cattle safely across the road, as well as restore this important migration route, crossing structures in the form of underpass culverts were eventually installed. Without wildlife-proof fencing to help funnel deer to the culverts, the project was ineffective at restoring the migration route.

Improvements were made to the culverts since then, and some deer now cross under the road successfully. But some biologists estimate the deer herd is currently less than half of what it was in the 1960s because of the freeway, which still acts as an impediment to migration. The story of the Sublett mule deer herd demonstrates both the direct and indirect effects of roads on wildlife.

Often, the indirect effects of roads can be as severe, or more, than the direct wildlife mortality. Habitat is lost and fragmented when roads are built. Animals have a harder time accessing resources and moving throughout their home ranges. Migrations are lost or changed due to the barrier effect of roads.

To further complicate things, deer, elk, pronghorn and other animals’ migrations depend on learned and socially transmitted information, which if lost, can take decades to restore.

Noise, light, and chemicals also pollute roadside habitat for up to several hundred feet beyond the side of the road. Disturbed roadsides provide ideal habitat for invasive plant and animal species. Litter, intended or not, finds its way into ecosystems throughout the year via roads.

Beyond big game

People often think of the large animals that are directly killed on roads because we can see the evidence that deer and elk are hit, even skunks, raccoons, and owls are commonly observed. But the direct effects of roads are much farther reaching than what typically meets the eye.

Billions of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals are killed annually on roads. Some studies estimate that up to one million animals are killed each day on roads in the U.S. Using the work done in Idaho as an example, since December 2017, Turner has documented over 700 unique dead organisms on a 63-mile stretch of US-20 in Southeast Idaho. Because carcasses do not persist long on roadways, Turner said she may be missing up to 14 times the number of small animals that are found.

Before getting a negative feeling about roads, not all is lost. Fish and Game has a memorandum of understanding with Idaho Transportation Department, and the agencies work together toward solutions for some of the ecological problems associated with Idaho’s roads.

Not just a wildlife problem

Because wildlife/vehicle collisions are also safety risks for drivers, ITD has an interest in projects that reduce them, and the agency works with Fish and Game to implement them. It is through this agency collaboration that the road-kill carcass survey is possible. Carcass surveys provide valuable information about mortality hotspots, which can be used to determine appropriate wildlife/vehicle collision mitigation siting and what methods to use.

ITD and Fish and Game have already collaborated on mitigation projects, including the wildlife underpass and fencing that was installed on US-21 near the Boise River Wildlife Management Area. Trail cameras have documented wildlife using the underpass. A wildlife overpass with fencing is also planned for the near future on US-21 to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity.

Other projects include wildlife underpasses and fencing in the Coeur d’Alene region, and barn owl collision mitigation in the Twin Falls area.

You can help save animals, and prevent vehicle repairs

Remember, as a driver, you can also do your part to make a difference for animals. Fall and spring are the peak seasons for deer and elk movement. During fall, herds are migrating from summer to winter range and beginning their mating season. Add daylight savings time (a one hour shift in predictable traffic patterns) into the mix and fall is usually the worst time of year for collisions.

Here are tips to avoid them:

n Keep a watchful eye for animals near the road

n If you see one animal cross the road, it is likely that others are near

n Animals are more active at dawn and dusk

n Avoid nighttime driving when possible