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Under-fire Idaho Game Commissioner Resigns At Governor’s Request

An Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner who came under fire in recent days after a distasteful photo of him with a dead “family of baboons” surfaced resigned today after the governor requested it.

(STATE OF IDAHO)

“I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government,” said Governor Butch Otter in a press release out this afternoon. “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner (Blake) Fischer did not. Accordingly, I have accepted his resignation from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.”

I caught wind of this story just as I was getting ready to leave for Deer Camp in North-central Washington and it festered in my mind all weekend.

Essentially, Fischer went on an African safari with his wife and started off by killing four baboons and posing with them, then moved on to a giraffe as well as more traditionally hunted animals.

After he shared pictures and details of the trip with 100 others, the Idaho Statesman caught wind and asked him about it.

According to a report, Fischer initially defended his actions, saying, “I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral.”

In his resignation letter Fischer states, “I recently made some poor judgments that resulted in sharing photos of a hunt in which I did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested.”

Last month I did a big article about how relatively few Washington fish and wildlife overseers hunt, so it bothers me to see an actual hunter on a game commission behave this way.

We all have done and will continue to do stupid things, but this is a self-inflicted wound that didn’t need to happen.

Fischer needed to go, and now he has.

2018 Idaho Fall Hunting Prospects ‘Good’ For Elk, Whitetails, Better For Muleys

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Hunters can look forward to a good fall season in 2018, with similar elk and white-tailed deer populations as last year and likely more mule deer in many areas.

Despite a setback in 2017 following a hard winter that mostly affected mule deer, most of Idaho’s deer and elk herds and harvests have been at or near historic highs in recent years and well above long-term averages. Hunters should see similar numbers this fall.

Let’s look at some figures to back that up.

In 2017, hunters took 22,751 elk, and they have killed more than 20,000 elk annually since 2014. That’s a significant statistic because before 2014, elk harvests were well below 20,000 for seven years. (The 10-year average from 2008-17 is 18,865 elk).

The last extended streak of elk harvests above 20,000 was from 1988 to 1996, which were historic high harvests in Idaho that topped out at 28,000 in 1994.

Whitetails are on a similar trend. Hunters took 26,502 whitetails in 2017, another 26,354 in 2016 following an all-time record of 30,578 whitetails in 2015. The last four years have been the highest consecutive years on record.

But mule deer hunters have not been as fortunate. A combination of a tough winter in 2016-17 and cutbacks in antlerless tags to protect breeding age does dropped the harvest by nearly a third from 37,070 in 2016 to 25,496 last year, but hunters should expect to see a modest increase this fall.

Here’s a more detailed look.

sawtaooth_elk_cc vicschendel

Creative Commons Licence
Vic Schendel

Elk

Idaho elk hunters are having some of the best hunting of all time, and there’s no reason the current streak can’t eventually compete with all-time highs based on recent harvests and trends.

Word has gotten out that Idaho’s elk hunting is on an upswing, and part of the attraction is a  combination of readily available tags sold over the counter and healthy elk populations. Elk tag sales have increased for the last five years and exceeded 100,000 annually since 2015. Prior to 2015, tag sales had not topped 100,000 in 16 years. Nonresident tags sold out in 2017, and they are selling faster this year, and will likely sell out again.

The 2017 elk harvest ranked second-highest in the last decade with 1,242 more elk than in 2016. It also ranks sixth all-time, and it’s 30 percent above the 50-year average elk harvest.

Here’s how the 2017 elk harvest breaks down:

  • Total: 22,751
  • Overall success rate: 24.4 percent
  • Bulls: 11,650
  • Cows: 11,101
  • Elk taken during general hunts: 13,277 (18.4 success rate)
  • Elk taken during controlled hunts: 9,473 (44.6 percent success rate)

Elk populations remain strong because they’re less susceptible to winter kill than deer, so they can continue to rebuild herds from year to year. Last winter, statewide calf survival was 66 percent, and the long term average 55 to 65 percent.

While Idaho is reliving some of its glory years for elk hunting, the location of the animals has changed. During record harvests in the 1990s, Central Idaho’s backcountry and wilderness areas were major contributors. They are less so these days, but other areas have picked up the slack.

There’s been a shift in populations from the wilderness and backcountry areas toward the interface between forest lands, agriculture and rural areas.

Harvest results show this. The Panhandle is currently the top elk zone in the state, and the top 10 zones include the Weiser River, Pioneer, Boise River, McCall, Smokey/Bennett and Salmon zones, all of which have major highways running through them.

Those top-producing zones provide accessible opportunities for many hunters, but also have unique challenges because there’s often a mix of public and private lands where the elk roam.

Elk herds are doing so well in some zones, such as the Weiser River and Pioneer zones, that those herds are over objectives and Fish and Game has increased cow hunting opportunities to thin the herds.

For new elk hunters, or experienced hunters looking for a new place to hunt, Idaho’s elk populations are likely to remain healthy in the foreseeable future, so now’s a good time to learn a zone where there are abundant herds.

Idaho offers a variety of over-the-counter tags for elk hunters. Out of 28 elk hunting zones, only two are limited to only controlled hunts, although many zones have limits on the number of tags available.

Hunters should research each zone and may want to look beyond the general, any-weapon seasons to find additional opportunity. Many archery and muzzleloader hunts provide antlerless, or either-sex hunting, and also options for early and late-season hunts.

top ten elk_graph

Creative Commons Licence
Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game
17_rog_buck

Creative Commons Licence
Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game

Mule deer

Mule deer hunting had also been on an upswing in recent years, but a tough winter across most of southern Idaho in 2016-17 winter dropped the population, which also contributed to a drop of 11,574 in the mule deer harvest between 2016 and 2017.

But a few things should be noted. The drop in doe harvest accounted for 22 percent of the difference between those two years, which was intentional to protect the does that will hopefully continue rebuilding the herds in coming years. Most of those protections remain in place.

Deer tag sales in 2017 fell by 7,323 tags compared with 2016. If those tags had been purchased, and those hunters matched the 2017 success rate for mule deer, it would have added another 2,123 deer to the harvest. That’s assuming they were all mule deer hunters because success rates for whitetails is significantly higher (see below for details about whitetails).

While the mule deer harvest dropped by 31 percent between 2016 and 2017, the success rate between the two years only dropped by 8 percentage points, 37 percent success in 2016 vs. 29 percent in 2017.

Here’s the breakdown of the 2017 mule deer harvest:

  • Total: 25,946
  • Overall success rate: 29 percent
  • Bucks: 20,275
  • Does: 5,221
  • Mule deer taken during general hunts: 18,588 (24.5 percent success rate)
  • Mule deer taken during controlled hunts: 6,909 (56.4 percent success rate)

Mule deer herds had been growing leading up to 2017 with five consecutive years of above-average winter fawn survival until the 2016-17 winter, which had only 30-percent fawn survival (based on radio-collared fawns) and was the second-lowest winter survival since fawn monitoring started in 1998.

Fawn survival vastly improved this year. The 2017-18 winter survival nearly doubled from the previous winter’s 30 percent survival to 57 percent last winter, which is right at the long-term average and should mean more young bucks in the herds during fall.

That’s the age group that saw a sharp drop in the harvest, accounting for 10,171 mule deer in 2016, but only 6,462 in the 2017 harvest.

Mule deer fawn survival rates last winter were also unusually uniform in the seven monitoring areas spread across the state with the lowest coming in at 45 percent and the highest at 66 percent.

Returning to an average fawn survival rate could easily bump the 2018 harvest by several thousand young bucks, however, there will still be fewer 2.5-year old bucks, many of which perished in the 2016-17 winter or were taken by hunters in 2017.

The Southeast Region and the McCall/Weiser areas were hardest hit during the severe 2016-17 winter, while other areas had closer-to-normal fawn survival, but still below average. Areas that weren’t hit as hard are likely to recover more quickly.

top10muledeer_graph

Creative Commons Licence
Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game
whitetail buck

Creative Commons Licence
Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game

White-tailed deer

Whitetails have long-been a favorite quarry for hunters in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, where they account for the vast majority of the harvest. But whitetails have also taken on statewide significance in recent years because their harvest has increased and closely matched mule deer, which has traditionally far outnumbered whitetails in the harvest.

Part of the reason for the shift is stable and abundant whitetail herds, lots of general season hunting opportunities that include long seasons and liberal regulations with either-sex hunting. Those factors also contribute to a higher success rate than mule deer.

Let’s breakdown the 2017 whitetail harvest:

  • Total: 26,502
  • Success rate: 43.9 percent
  • Bucks: 15,895
  • Does: 10,607
  • Bucks five points or larger (on one antler): 3,384
  • General season harvest: 23,312 (42.7 percent success rate)
  • Controlled hunt harvest: 3,189 (54.6 percent success rate)

Unlike mule deer, Fish and Game does not radio collar whitetail fawns and does each winter and monitor their survival, or do other annual population surveys for whitetails. Biologists rely on other data to judge the health of the population, including harvest data.

Harvest has been over 26,000 for the last four years, and the number of five-points in the harvest has been consistent since 2007.

Whitetail hunting is meeting nearly all of the department’s objectives for the number of hunters, hunter days, buck harvest, and percentage of five points. The only exceptions are the Selway/Middle Fork areas are below objectives for hunt numbers and days, and southern Idaho is below objective for five-points, but southern Idaho is not considered a major focus for whitetail hunters.

Idaho has not seen any significant outbreaks of whitetail diseases in recent years, and now outbreaks have been detected this year.

All signs point to another good year for whitetail hunters with lots of opportunity and the chance to get a bigger buck for those who put in the time and effort.

Whitetail hunters should be aware of rule changes in Unit 10A in 2018, which includes a shortened season (Oct. 10 through Nov. 20), and hunters can not use a second deer tag in that unit.

top10whitetaildeer_graph

Creative Commons Licence
Glenna Gomez, Idaho Fish and Game

 

To learn more about harvest statistics, places to hunt, rules and more information, see the Hunt Planner.

 

‘Disheartening’ — Walleye Caught At Lake Cascade, IDFG Reports

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

An angler fishing for smallmouth bass and perch on Lake Cascade near Crown Point earlier this week instead reeled in an adult walleye, measuring more than 19 inches in length. Fish and Game regional fisheries manager Dale Allen positively identified the fish on Wednesday, August 22.

LAKE CASCADE FISHERY MANAGERS SAYS ITS “DISHEARTENING” THAT WALLEYE HAVE BEEN PLACED IN POPULAR LAKE CASCADE. tHEY SAY THEY WILL PULL RESOURCES FROM ELSEWHERE TO GET ON TOP OF THE UNWANTED SPECIES. (VIA IDFG)

The fish was illegally stocked in the reservoir and is the first-ever confirmed report of a walleye in Lake Cascade. Because of the illegal stocking and the threat walleye pose to Cascade’s and other downstream fisheries, Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a cash reward for information regarding this criminal case. Call the CAP hotline anytime at 1-800-632-5999.

Idaho has just a few walleye fisheries, all established by Fish and Game, and all in isolated reservoirs. Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir in south central Idaho is one example; no outlets from the reservoir exist that might allow walleye to escape to other waters. It is because of their potential threat to existing fisheries that walleye have not been more widely stocked in other Idaho waters.

The Department receives angler requests to establish new walleye populations every year. For the reasons noted, these requests are courteously denied. Unfortunately, some self-serving anglers are not willing to take no for an answer, instead taking matters into their own hands. “This illegal introduction was carefully thought out,” Allen noted. “The closest walleye fishery is more than 200 miles from Cascade. To survive the extended transport time, this fish – and possibly others – would have required clean, cold, aerated water for a number of hours.”

The Department may not know the extent or severity of this illegal stocking for several years. Because of the high stakes, resources will be diverted from other projects to expand fish sampling in Lake Cascade later this year to see if more adult walleye are present and to determine whether reproduction has occurred.

“This incident is particularly disheartening for Cascade,” Allen said. “Fish and Game spent years rebuilding a world-class perch fishery, and the reservoir is also full of big trout and trophy smallmouth bass. Adding another top predator like walleye will almost certainly impact these other sport fish.”

The negative ramifications of this illegal stocking extend well beyond the shores of Lake Cascade. With thousands of acre feet of irrigation water released from the reservoir on an annual basis, it’s no stretch that walleye could move through the Payette River system into Brownlee Reservoir and the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River.

Bipartisan US Senate Fish-Wildlife Funding Bill Introduction Applauded

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA’S FISH & WILDLIFE

The Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife is excited to see introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.3223) in the United States Senate today. Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) along with their colleagues Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation that recommends funding for conservation of those fish and wildlife species in greatest need across the country.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

S.3223 recommends that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from energy development on federal lands and waters to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. This solution, proposed initially by leaders of the energy, outdoor recreation retail, manufacturing, and automotive sectors and well as sportsmen’s/women’s and other conservation groups is complementary to existing natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs and will not require taxpayers or businesses to pay more, but instead allows all Americans to become investors in fish and wildlife conservation.

The Senate bill complements the House version (H.R. 4647), introduced in December 2017 by Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), which has gained strong, bipartisan co-sponsorship due to its innovative approach to solving America’s wildlife crisis, with the current list of co-sponsors growing to over 75 members.

“This legislation puts states back in control of conservation efforts and affords them greater flexibility to meet their state-specific needs, while also protecting the legacy of hunting and the value the industry brings to wildlife conservation,” said Senator Risch, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. “Additionally, by engaging in these proactive, voluntary conservation actions, we will save millions of tax dollars that are otherwise spent on restoring threatened and endangered species.”

“In West Virginia hunting, fishing and outdoor activities are family traditions deeply ingrained in who we are as a state. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will ensure we continue to promote our state’s unique wildlife and preserve our rich outdoor traditions. That’s why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to make West Virginia ever more wild and wonderful,” Senator Manchin said.

“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are the foundation of our natural heritage, held in the public trust for all to enjoy, and cared for by the state fish and wildlife agencies. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help all species — including many that are hunted and fished and those that are not— continue to thrive,” stated Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “We applaud Senator Risch from my home state of Idaho and Senator Manchin of West Virginia for their leadership on this important legislation that will help management and conservation of fish and wildlife, and bolster our great outdoor recreation economy.”

“The Blue Ribbon Panel recommended a proactive approach to conservation funding,” said Greg Hill, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hess Corporation. “The funding model that forms the basis for this legislation is better for taxpayers and businesses and, most importantly, better for the long-term conservation of fish and wildlife species in danger.”

“We applaud the Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders Senators Risch, Manchin, and Heitkamp, as well as Caucus Member Senator Alexander for introducing this important piece of legislation,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. This legislation will complement the contributions of sportsmen and women to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy.”

“America’s wildlife are in crisis—more than one third of all species are vulnerable or at risk. We’re grateful to Senators Risch and Manchin for introducing a bill that demonstrates that the best way to save America’s 12,000 at-risk species is through collaborative, proactive, on-the-ground conservation efforts,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is an important step in the right direction and we look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen it further by adding the dedicated funding necessary to save the full diversity of wildlife species through collaborative conservation, just as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (Pittman-Robertson) helped fuel the recovery of wildlife from pronghorn, elk, and bighorn sheep to waterfowl and ducks.”

“Outdoor Industry Association fully supports the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) which aims to bolster fish and wildlife habitat conservation,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director for the Outdoor Industry Association. “We urge the Senate to approve the Act and applaud the hard work and leadership by Senators Risch (R-ID), Manchin (D-WV), Alexander (R-TN), and Heitkamp (D-ND) to sponsor and push it, as we could soon have a more proactive model for conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife.”

Congress Moves Closer To OKing States, Tribes To Lethally Remove More Columbia Sea Lions

Efforts to reduce sea lion predation on ESA-listed Columbia River salmon and steelhead got a big boost today with the passage of a bill that would provide state and tribal managers more latitude to deal with the hungry pinnipeds.

A CALIFORNIA SEA LION CAPTURES A SPRING CHINOOK. (BRYAN WRIGHT, ODFW, VIA NMFS FLICKR, HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-NC-ND/2.0/

HR 2083, introduced by a pair of Lower Columbia Congressmen from either side of the river and political aisle and which would allow sea lions to be culled in parts of the mainstem and its tribs to save fish, sailed out of the U.S. House of Representatives on a 288-116 vote this afternoon.

Cosponsors Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA3) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR5) were joined by every single one of their fellow Washington and Oregon representatives, as well as both of Idaho’s, in voting for the measure.

The move comes just days after similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate, making action now suddenly more likely after previous versions of the House bill had stalled.

Herrera Beutler said it was the result of a “team effort” and credited Schrader for getting the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act to a vote, Washington U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D) and Idaho U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R) for introducing one in the upper chamber, and “all the local and tribal agencies and fishermen who have trumpeted the plight of our salmon for years.”

A SEA LION SURFACES NEAR A FISHING BOAT DURING 2017’S LOWER COLUMBIA SPRING CHINOOK SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Along with testimony from the Columbia River Inter-Tribe Fish Commission last year, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association has lent its strong support.

An exultant Liz Hamilton, NSIA’s executive director, called this “truly a good day for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon!”

She said lawmakers’ action offered “huge progress … giving fishery managers another tool to prevent extinction and help with recovery.”

Essentially, the bill would expand the scope of removals by, according to a Coastal Conservation Association of Washington press release, amending a portion of the “Marine Mammal Protection Act to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to provide states and local tribes the tools necessary to humanely manage sea lions on the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries as long as the sea lions are not classified as an Endangered Species Act listed species.”

Between 2008 and 2016, as predation at Bonneville Dam increased, ODFW and WDFW were allowed by NOAA to remove 161 California sea lions, euthanizing 139 of those and finding zoos and aquariums for another 15.

But they’re smart critters and know where the food is at and readily return to unnatural pinchpoints.

In a joint letter, the heads of CRITFC, IDFG, ODFW and WDFW said passage of HR 2083 was “critical to ensuring we can manage the ever-increasing issue of predation on sturgeon, lamprey, and Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin,” according to a press release.

Back in April, ODFW took the strongest stance, specifically calling on Congress to act, pointing out that male sea lions gathering below Willamette Falls were driving the basin’s steelhead “closer to extinction,” not unlike what Herschel did at the Ballard Locks to Lake Washington’s stocks.

Earlier this year, federal researchers said that California sea lions had reached their “optimal sustainable population,” a triggering point in the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and a high enough level that West Coast states could begin to take over management.

“The California sea lion population has experienced a huge population recovery in recent years; unfortunately, that population has now grown to numbers totally inconsistent with its historic range, posing a very serious threat to the endangered salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia River system,” Rep. Schrader said in a press release.

Even as passage of HR 2083 put the focus on pinnipeds, that’s not to say that NOAA issuing one-year take permits to CRITFC, IDFG, ODFW, WDFW, and the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama and Cowlitz Tribes to take out up to 100 of the Chinook-, steelhead- and sturgeon-munching marine mammals is a be-all, end-all solution to fish run woes.

“Salmon recovery isn’t about just one issue, and the data is crystal clear that this [sea lion predation] is an important component, just as dam removal must be,” said angler Chase Gunnell, a Wild Steelhead Coalition boardmenber. “We can’t ignore the real short term threats from unnaturally high predation on endangered salmon and steelhead, even if Bonneville and other dams have exacerbated the situation. Pragmatic, strategic conservationists and wild fish and river advocates should celebrate this sensible policy, just as we should continue working to remove the lower Snake River Dams. It’s not either/or.”

But in the short term it is progress.

NSIA’s Hamilton thanked all three states’ Congressional delegations,  especially Herrera Beutler and Schrader, and also urged fellow fishermen to show gratitude to their representatives.

‘Free Fishing Season’ Arrives In Northwest With Lots Of Learning, Angling Ops

Oregon kicks off “free fishing season” in the Northwest this Saturday and Sunday, while Washington and Idaho hold their festivities on June’s second weekend.

It’s not only a great way to get lapsed anglers — yo, Uncle Terry, I’ll be by early to head to the lake! — on the water but features a ton of kid- and family-friendly events.

MAEVE, AGE 7, WITH HER FIRST FISH CAUGHT WITH THE HELP OF AN ODFW ANGLING EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR AT TIMBER LINN PARK POND IN ALBANY DURING AN EARLIER FREE FISHING DAY EVENT THIS YEAR. (ODFW)

Here are what ODFW, IDFG and WDFW are planning for their state’s respective free fishing days:

THE FOLLOWING ARE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASES

Fishing is free June 2-3 in Oregon
Learn to fish at events statewide

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3.

During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

“Free Fishing Weekends are a great opportunity for friends and families to get out and enjoy a day or two of fishing,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager. “Trout, warmwater fish, ocean fishing, crabbing and clamming are just some of the great opportunities available.”

Look for the best opportunities in ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday.

Oregon State Parks are also free to visit on June 2-3, with day-use parking fees waived both days and free camping on Saturday, June 2 (an $8 reservation is required to guarantee a camping spot).

ODFW and partners are also hosting a number of fishing events around the state. Volunteer angler education instructors will be loaning out fishing gear and giving tips on how to catch and clean fish at most events. For more details and contact information for these events, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/2018-free-fishing-days-and-events

Saturday, June 2

  • Albany, Timber Linn Park Pond, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Ashland, Hyatt Lake-Mountain View Shelter, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Baker City, 203 Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Chiloquin, Klamath Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Clatskanie, Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Detroit, Detroit Lake/Hoover Boat Launch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Eugene, Alton Baker Canoe Canal, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Gervais, St Louis Ponds, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gold Beach, Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m.-noon
  • Hammond, Coffenbury Lake-Fort Stevens State Park, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Hebo, Hebo Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Heppner, Cutsforth Pond, 8-11 a.m.
  • Klamath Falls, Lake of the Woods Resort, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Lakeside, Eel Lake/Tugman Park, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Oakridge, Willamette Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Otis, Salmon River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-noon
  • Prairie City, McHaley Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Rockaway, Nedona Pond, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Selma, Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Silverton, Silverton Marine Park, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (required to park offsite, see details)
  • Sunriver, Caldera Springs, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Tillamook, Trask River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday, June 3

  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Port Orford, Arizona Pond, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reedsport, Lake Marie, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Under statute set by the Oregon State Legislature, ODFW can offer eight days of free fishing each year. The other remaining days of free fishing in Oregon coming up this year are listed on page 16 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations and are Sept. 1-2 (Sat.-Sun. of Labor Day Weekend) and Nov. 23-24 (the two days after Thanksgiving).

Free Fishing Weekend events in Southern Oregon

ROSEBURG, Ore – Oregonian’s can fish, crab and clam for free during Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3. Events held around Southern Oregon give families an opportunity to try their hand at landing a trout.

The following events held are Saturday, June 2 unless noted:

Coos County:

  • Eel Lake at Tugman State Park, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. At a series of stations, kids will learn how to identify fish, tie knots, and cast along with fishing courtesy and water safety. Kids 12 and under can have the chance to catch trout out of a net pen. Lunch is provided.

Curry County:

  • Arizona Pond, Sunday, June 3 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The annual Elk River Hatchery free fishing event moved to Arizona Pond located 15 miles south of Port Orford on Highway 101 across from Prehistoric Gardens. This event is open for youth age 17 and under and is hosted by Elk River Hatchery and Oregon State Parks. Rods, reels, bait and tackle will be provided for the event, along with ice and bags so kids can take their fish home. Volunteers can help young anglers and Port Orford Rotary is providing lunch and refreshments. A raffle will be held at noon. ODFW is stocking 800 legal-sized and 300 trophy trout. Information: David Chambers, 541-332-7025.
  • Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. This event is for kids 13 and younger. Sign-up for prizes begins at 8 a.m., and the event features lunch, prize drawings, and loaner fishing equipment. Adults are encouraged to help their young ones fish. Help will also be on hand from Curry Anadromous Fishermen, Oregon South Coast Fishermen, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service who are all sponsoring the event. Libby Pond is about eight miles up North Bank Rd., Gold Beach.

Douglas County:

  • Cooper Creek, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This popular event has a kiddie pond stocked with trout for kids up to 12 years old, loaner rods and reels, casting lessons, and a fish cleaning station. Once kids go through an education station, they get a ticket for raffle drawings. Free hot dogs and Pepsi. ODFW is stocking 2,000 larger sized trout just before the event.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This fishing derby is for kids 17 and younger. Check-in begins at 6 a.m. at the resort’s Marina. There will be prizes for biggest fish by different age classes so kids should check in their trout for measurement at the Marina by 2 p.m. There will be door prizes and hot dogs in front of the resort after check-out concludes.
  • Lake Marie, Sunday, June 3 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. for kids 14 and under. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Rods and reels will be available, along with help for first-time anglers. Kids can enter a casting contest and get a bounty for picking up litter. Kids can also try out Gyotaku, or fish printing. Hot dogs and soda are free to kids with a nominal charge for adults to help pay for next year’s event. ODFW recently stocked 2,000 larger sized trout for the event.

Jackson County:

  • Fish Lake, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The BLM and USFS will have rods, tackle and bait on a first come, first served basis.

Josephine County:

  • Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Josephine County’s only Free Fishing Weekend event is sponsored by the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and ODFW’s Angler Education program. Rods and reels are available for loan and bait is provided. There’s a fishing contest for the biggest fish caught by youth, donated prizes, a free BBQ 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and a 50/50 raffle.

All other regulations apply including bag limit and size restrictions. People who already have a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut are encouraged to use it as it provides data for fish managers.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

June 9 is Free Fishing Day

Saturday, June 9th is Free Fishing Day, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

“Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop it into a life-long pursuit,” Fish and Game regional fish manager Joe Kozfkay said. “Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun fishing excitement.”

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At special locations around the southwest region, equipment will be available for use and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to the special day. Look for the event nearest you and Take a Kid Fishing.

For more information regarding Free Fishing Day, contact the Fish and Game McCall office (634-8137) or the Nampa office (465-8465).

Free Fishing Day Events in the Southwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2018
Note: pay special attention to event times. Check the Fish and Game website (https://IDFG.idaho.gov) for schedule additions and or changes.

Atwood Pond (Payette) – Registration begins at 8:00am

Hosted by Safari Club International

Council (Ol’ McDonald) Pond – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Fischer Pond (Cascade) – 10:00am – 2:00pm

Hosted by Lake Cascade State Park and Idaho Fish and Game

Kimberland Meadows Pond (New Meadows) – 9:00am – 1:00pm  

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Southwest Idaho RC&D Council, Micron Technology and Idaho Fish and Game

Legacy Park Pond (Mt. Home) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Idaho Fish and Game Reservists

Lowman (10-mile) Ponds – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Lowman Ranger District), Sourdough Lodge and Idaho Fish and Game

McDevitt Pond (Boise) – 8:00am – Noon

Hosted by the Boise Police Association and Idaho Fish and Game

Northwest Passage Pond (McCall) – 9:00am – Noon

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

Rotary Park Pond (Caldwell ) – 9:30am – Noon

Hosted by Caldwell Rotary and the City of Caldwell

Sawyers Pond (Emmett) – 9:00am – Noon
Hosted by the Gem County Recreation District, Boise National Forest (Emmett Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Visitor Center Pond (Idaho City) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Idaho City Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) – 8:00am – Noon
Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

OLYMPIA – Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license on “Free Fishing Weekend,” scheduled for June 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state.

Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries. Nor will they need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted.

Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A Discover Pass will also not be required on Washington State Parks lands throughout the weekend, but will be required on DNR lands both days.

“If you haven’t fished in Washington, or want to introduce fishing to someone new to the sport, this is the weekend to get out there,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW inland fish program manager.

Options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

  • Trout in lowland lakes, and in the many rivers opening to trout fishingJune 2 throughout the state
  • Lingcod on the coast.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

New anglers should check online for the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (http://wdfw.wa.gov). The site provides details on lowland lake fishing, high lake fishing and marine area opportunities. Catchable trout stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the weekly stocking report on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

For those who want even more fishing advice, the Fish Washington video page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in free fishing weekend can also participate in the department’s 2018 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem green tags from fish caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid through June at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, it’s still important to check the regulations for other rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements and area closures that will still be in effect, said Thiesfeld.

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.

 

 

Idaho Angler Sets New High Mark For C&R Rainbows With 30-plus-incher

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Would you release a 30.5-inch rainbow trout if you caught it? David Raisch of Pocatello did, and he’s now a state-record holder.

FLY FISHING GUIDE DAVID RAISCH AND HIS 30.5-INCH SNAKE RIVER RAINBOW TROUT. (DAVID RAISCH VIA IDFG)

Raisch caught his record fish in late March and recently submitted it into Idaho Fish and Game’s catch and release records, which allows anglers to claim a state record while letting the fish live. The program started in 2016, and it complements the traditional “certified weight” records that require anglers to weigh the fish on a certified scale, which means the fish is typically killed.

Raisch was fly fishing in the Snake River when he landed the record rainbow, which coincidentally is where the previous record of 29.3 inches was caught.

If you catch a big fish and want to enter it in the catch and release records, here are the general guidelines:

  • Fish must be released alive.
  • All fish must be measured and photographed in the water.
  • Catch-and-Release Records are based only on the total length from snout to tip of tail. Measure the total length from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail, with lobes of tail squeezed together.
  • Fish must be photographed directly next to a ruler/tape or an object of known verifiable length (such as the fishing rules booklet).
  • At least one photo of the angler with the fish.
  • At least one witness to the measurement and release.
  • White Sturgeon records must be broken by a minimum of 2 inches.
  • Records for all other species must be broken by a minimum of ½ inch.
  • All applications must be submitted within 30 days of the catch date.

Here are more details on all of Idaho’s record fish and how to submit fish into the record books.

Idaho Commission OKs Issuing 1 Grizzly Bear Permit For Fall Hunt

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners on Thursday, May 10 approved a hunting season for grizzly bears in a portion of eastern Idaho with one tag offered.

WITH GRIZZLY BEARS IN THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE ECOSYSTEM — THIS ONE WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE PARK’S HAYDEN VALLEY — LONG SINCE RECOVERED, IDAHO FISH AND GAME MANAGERS WILL OFFER A SINGLE TAG TO HUNT ONE IN THE GEM STATE, THOUGH OFFICIALS CAUTION THE SEASON MAY BE CHALLENGED IN COURT, IN WHICH CASE THE TAGHOLDER’S MONEY WOULD BE REFUNDED. (NPS)

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has met federal recovery criteria since the early 2000s. The state of Idaho and its professional wildlife managers played a key part in this population’s recovery, in partnership with other states, and federal, tribal and local governments. In 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the population off of the Endangered Species Act list, and Idaho will continue to responsibly manage the population in coordination with Wyoming and Montana now that federal protections are lifted.

The conservation strategy for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly population includes hunting as a management tool when the population is more than 600 bears.

The 2017 population estimate is 718 grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone “demographic monitoring area” (DMA), which encompasses suitable grizzly habitat in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The DMA includes all of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but no hunting will occur in either national park. The population in the DMA has been stable over the last decade with annual population estimates in the monitoring area ranging between 694 and 757 grizzlies.

Idaho grizzly bear hunt

Fish and Game will offer one tag for the opportunity to hunt a grizzly bear in a controlled hunt, random drawing limited to Idaho residents. Application period will be June 15 through July 15. Resident hunters who applied for any other controlled hunt in 2018 may also apply for the grizzly bear hunt.

The hunt will run Sept. 1 through Nov. 15. No baiting or hound hunting will be allowed for the grizzly bear hunt. Grizzly bears, like bull moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, limit tags to successful hunters “once in a lifetime.”

Because actual implementation of the grizzly hunt may be subject to a pending lawsuit in federal court, hunters applying should beware that the hunt could be canceled, in which case the pre-paid tag fees would be refunded, but the controlled hunt application fees would not.

How is the number of bears available for harvest determined?

Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have agreed to manage the Yellowstone grizzly bear population in the DMA between 600 and 748 bears, which corresponds to the average population from 2002 to 2014. No hunting will occur if the population is below 600 bears in the DMA.

Scientists have determined how much mortality on male and female bears can occur while managing for a sustainable population. Hunting can occur if the measured and predicted annual grizzly mortality is less than the total allowable mortality in any given year. Hunting opportunity is determined by subtracting the known and predicted annual mortality from the total allowable mortality for the population.

Why a single tag?

Idaho, Montana and Wyoming allocate available hunting opportunity based on the proportion of land each state has within the DMA (excluding Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks where no hunting is allowed).

Idaho has 8 percent of the land in the DMA, and in 2018, 8 percent of the total allowable mortality available for hunting represents one male bear.

Avoiding female bears

Fish and Game biologists will work with the person who receives the tag to ensure the hunter understands rules, hunt boundaries and how to distinguish male bears from females.

At any given time, roughly half the female bears will be with cubs or juvenile bears, none of which are legal to harvest under the rules of the hunt. That means about 75 percent of the unaccompanied adult bears are male, and the identification training provided by the department will help the hunter avoid harvesting a female bear.

History

Grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has recovered since being listed as endangered in the 1970s. The population has increased from less than 200 in the 1970s to the current 718 bears. Biologists saw consistent population growth (between 4.2 percent and 7.6 percent annually) from 1983 to 2002, then slower population growth (.3 percent to 2.2 percent) from 2002 to 2014. Biologists say the slowed growth rate and stable population in the monitoring area suggest the population is at, or near, the carrying capacity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The Greater Yellowstone population met the recovery criteria outlined in a 1993 recovery plan by the early 2000s. State and federal agencies finalized a long-term conservation strategy in 2007, and the Yellowstone grizzlies were removed from federal protection that year.

In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed legal challenges to delisting, finding that regulatory mechanisms were adequate to support the recovered Yellowstone population. But the court ordered the bears to go back on Endangered Species list until the Fish and Wildlife Service analyzed if a decline in whitebark pine threatened the bear population’s recovery.

The bears were delisted again in July, 2017, and Fish and Game proposed its grizzly hunting season in March, 2018. The proposal garnered more than 900 comments to Fish and Game’s website during the public comment period in April and early May. Comments greatly varied, but the majority favored moving forward with a grizzly hunt.

$70 Million From Federal Fish, Wildlife Restoration Program Coming To Northwest DFWs

Northwest fish and wildlife managers will receive nearly $70 million for fish and wildlife this year, thanks to the annual disbursement of funds from two key federal programs.

Oregon is set to receive the most, $25,510,834, through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts which help restore game and sportfish through excise taxes on certain hunting, angling and boating purchases.

THE FIRST CHUNKS OF THE SINLAHEKIN WILDLIFE AREA, WASHINGTON’S OLDEST, WAS PURCHASED USING PITTMAN-ROBERTSON ACT FUNDING IN 1939.. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

Washington will see $22,232,988 and Idaho $21,904,604.

The figures were announced yesterday by Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior.

“Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation,” Zinke said in a press release. “The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works.”

The feds use a formula based on how many fishing and hunting licenses that ODFW, WDFW, IDFG and other agencies sell, as well as land size to disburse the funding.

Texas received the most this year, at $54 million, following by Alaska at $51 million and California at $42 million. 

According to the Department of Interior, since Pittman-Robertson went into effect in 1938 and Dingell-Johnson in 1950, a grand total of $20.2 billion has been sent back to the states.

“In discussions with hunters/anglers, we often mention that their license fees, leveraged with PR and DJ, account for about one-third of WDFW’s operating budget – a significant contribution,” WDFW Policy Director Nate Pamplin told me for a blog I posted here earlier this year on how much of your license revenue actually goes back to the agency.

Zinke made the announcement in Wisconsin, which was also the backdrop of a Tuesday NPR story on declining numbers of hunters, a warning about the impending “demographic wall” as baby boomers age out of the sport and attempts to get other outdoor enthusiasts and the public to pay a fairer share.

A bill in Congress would help fund managing the increasing numbers of endangered species across the country. Introduced in the House of Representatives last December, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act picked up more than two dozen cosponsors from both sides of the aisle earlier this month.

For more on the acts, the umbrella Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and the 29 key words written in 1937 and which that require your fishing and hunting license money to go straight to the DFWs and not state general fund coffers, see this handy-dandy presentation.

2017 Idaho Elk, Whitetail Harvest Up, Mule Deer Down, Hunt Managers Report

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Fish and Game biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.

The 2017 elk harvest was about 17.5 percent above the 10-year average, and despite the dip in the mule deer harvest, 2017’s overall deer harvest was still slightly above the 10-year average.

(IDFG)

Elk harvest

Elk hunters are enjoying some of the best hunting in recent history. Harvest was up by 1,242 elk in 2017 over 2016, which was largely an increase in cow harvest. The bull harvest dropped 341 animals between 2016 and 2017.

Fish and Game increased cow hunting opportunities to reduce herds that are causing damage to private lands in parts of the state.

Idaho’s elk harvest has exceeded 20,000 elk for four straight years, which hasn’t happened since the mid 1990s.

Idaho’s elk herds have grown in recent years thanks in part to mild winters, but elk don’t typically suffer the same fate as mule deer when winter turns colder and snowier.

“Elk are much hardier animals and less susceptible to environmental conditions,” Fish and Game Deer and Elk Coordinator Daryl Meints said. “It has to be a tough winter to kill elk.”

(IDFG)

Deer harvest

The 2017 deer harvest dropped by 11,426 animals compared with 2016, which included a slight increase in white-tailed deer harvested, but 11,574 fewer mule deer harvested.

In response to last year’s hard winter, Fish and Game’s wildlife managers reduced antlerless hunting opportunities for mule deer in 2017 to protect breeding-age does and help the population bounce back more quickly. That resulted in 2,517 fewer antlerless mule deer harvested.

Fish and Game’s mule deer monitoring last winter showed only 30 percent survival for fawns, which was the second-lowest since winter monitoring started 20 years ago. Those male fawns would have been two-points or spikes in the fall had they survived, which typically account for a large portion of the mule deer buck harvest. Harvest statistics showed hunters took 3,709 fewer two points or spikes in 2017 than in 2016.

Mule deer tend to run on a “boom and bust” cycle, and “every few years, you’re going to have a winter when this happens,” Meints said.

However, it tends to be fairly short-lived unless there are consecutive winters with prolonged deep snow and/or frigid temperatures. While mule deer hunting was down, whitetail hunting remains solid and stable, and hunters took more whitetails than mule deer last fall, which is rare for Idaho.

TONEY GRIFFITH BAGGED HER FIRST WHITETAIL LAST NOVEMBER WHILE HUNTING IN NORTH IDAHO. MANAGERS THERE SAY THE 2017 HARVEST WAS NOT FAR BELOW 2015’S RECORD. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The whitetail harvest in 2016 and 2017 hovering just below the all-time harvest record of 30,578 set in 2015.

Northern Idaho had an average winter last year, and whitetails in the Panhandle and Clearwater continue to thrive after a series of mild-to-average winters there.

“We don’t have as much telemetry-collar data like we do with mule deer, but there’s no reason to believe we haven’t had higher-than-normal survival of whitetail fawns and adults, and the harvest data supports that,” Meints said.

Looking ahead

While last winter’s above-average snowpack in Southern and Central Idaho took its toll on fawns, it also provided a lot of moisture that grew lots of food for big game animals. Many animals went into winter in great condition, and so far, weather has been mild compared to last year.

A mild, or average, winter typically grows herds because a larger proportion of the fawns and calves survive, which is a critical time for their passage into adulthood.

Even during the difficult winter last year, more than 90 percent of the radio-collared mule deer does, and more than 95 percent of the radio-collared cow elk survived.