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

Idaho Fish and Game implements fire restrictions

Because of the current fire risk condition throughout Idaho, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) is imposing a Stage I Fire Restriction on IDFG-owned and managed lands statewide, effective immediately.

Until further notice, the following restriction applies to all Wildlife Management Areas and fishing access areas owned or managed by IDFG.

Stage I Fire Restrictions

Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire except within a designated recreation site, within a fire structure provided by the administrative agency, or on their own land and only within an owner-provided fire structure (see definition below)

Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

Exemptions

Persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

Persons using fire fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels.

Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.

Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

All land within a city boundary is exempted.

Other exemptions unique to each agency.

The wildlife management areas covered by this announcement include: Tex Creek, Sand Creek, Mud Lake, Market Lake, Deer Parks, Cartier Slough, Sterling, Portneuf, Blackfoot, Georgetown, Montpelier, Hagerman, Niagara Springs, CJ Strike, Camas Prairie Centennial, Billingsley Creek, Big Cottonwood, Carey Lake, Cecil D. Andrus, Payette, Montour, Boise River, Fort Boise, Craig Mountain, Red River, Boundary Creek, McArthur Lake, Pend Oreille, Farragut, Coeur d’Alene, Snow Peak. Signs are being posted at many of these areas, but the restrictions are in effect whether or not signs are present.

According to Upper Snake Regional Habitat Manager Rob Cavallaro, “Dry conditions around the State have made the potential for wildfires extremely high. As a result, IDFG has implemented a restriction on all open fires on IDFG- managed lands and access sites in the Upper Snake, Southeast, Southwest, Magic Valley, Clearwater, Panhandle, and Salmon regions. The use of exploding targets and fireworks are always prohibited on IDFG owned lands.”

IDFG is also asking visitors to these lands to be cautious of the potential for fires caused by other sources as well.

Fire restrictions will remain in place until fire conditions change and the public will be notified at that time. Anyone with questions should contact:

Upper Snake Regional Office at 208-525-7290

Southeast Regional Office at 208-232-4703

Southwest Regional Office at 208-465-8465

Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359

Panhandle Regional Office at 208-769-1414

Clearwater Regional Office at 208-799-5010

Salmon Regional Office at 208-756-2271

Big game application period extended until June 7

In recognition of current licensing system issues, the Idaho Department Fish and Game has extended the big game application period to midnight on June 7. Fish and Game continues to work with its license system contractor to solve the problem so it can get the licensing system back online as soon as possible.

“We don’t have an estimated time yet, but we will inform people as soon as it’s live again,” said Michael Pearson, Fish and Game’s Chief of Administration.

In the meantime, Fish and Game is trying to ensure customers are treated fairly and have an opportunity to apply for controlled hunts. The department will be updating people on the website and through other means as more information becomes available.

“We value you as a customer and always want you to have a good experience with us,” Pearson said. “We realize we are not currently living up to those expectations, but we are doing our best to make it right.”

The deer, elk, antelope and fall black bear controlled hunt deadline is among the busiest days of the year for the licensing system. Last year, there were 166,000 applications for those controlled hunts, and Pearson said traditionally about 20 percent come on the final day of the application period, which opened on May 1.

It is not yet known whether extending the application deadline will affect the drawing and notification dates.