Citizens can use hotline to report wildlife violations

BOISE — Idaho Fish and Game officials are encouraging hunters and others to report wildlife violations to the Citizens Against Poaching hotline.

They even suggest people program the number, (800) 632-5999, into their cellphones.

“The public plays a critical role in catching poachers stealing game and fish from Idaho citizens,” said Chris Wright, the agency’s chief of enforcement. “Those who ‘make the call’ help us detect and solve cases that, in many circumstances, we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”

Callers can report wildlife law violations anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People can also report poachers online at idfg.idaho.gov/poacher.

Cash rewards are available to those who provide information leading to the citation of suspected wildlife law violators. Rewards are: $200 for birds, fish and general violations; $300 for most big game animals and wild turkey; and $600 for trophy species such as bighorn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, reward amounts can be higher.

Each year, the hotline receives an average of 600 calls from the public, which results in an average of 150 citations issued and $20,000 paid in rewards. In 2019, Citizens Against Poaching paid out $21,300 in rewards.

Hunters who travel out of state reminded of rules regarding carcasses

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is reminding hunters who travel out of state to pursue game that there are rules about bringing carcasses back into the state.

The rules are designed to help stop the importation of chronic wasting disease, a debilitating illness that has not yet been detected in Idaho.

It is illegal to import the whole carcass of a deer, elk, moose and caribou into Idaho from any state, province or country that has chronic wasting disease, which includes Wyoming, Utah, Montana and 23 other states.

Deer, elk, caribou and moose transported into Idaho from states or provinces with the disease must be butchered with meat cut and wrapped, or cut into quarters, or deboned with no brain matter or spinal tissue remaining.

Whole heads cannot be imported from states with chronic wasting disease. Antlers should be removed and skulls dried.

More information, including a list of states and provinces that have the disease, and full carcass importation rules are available at idfg.idaho.gov/cwd.

New hunters can learn skills at IDFG web site

BOISE — Idaho Fish and Game officials have launched the website gohuntidaho.org, to help new hunters acquire skills they need to be successful and safe in the field.

“For new hunters, getting started in the sport can be intimidating. From firearm safety, seasons and rules, where to find game and processing meat — it’s a lot to take in,” said Ian Malepeai, marketing manager for the agency. “This website is a sort of one-stop shop where new hunters can easily find all the information they need.”

The site includes information on the licenses and tags people need to hunt, the species available to hunters and where people can pursue various huntable species, with an emphasis on upland game.

According to a news release from the agency, 39 percent of Idaho residents are interested in hunting, and of that group, 34 percent have never hunted. Historically, hunting has been a tradition passed down through family mentors, but Malepeai said not all people come from hunting families.

“While we know we cannot replace family mentors, our hope is to be a surrogate mentor and provide as much information as we can to set new hunters up for success,” he said. “We know that there is a demand, and we are really trying to reach this audience and provide this new resource.”

The site includes video tutorials on skills such as finding places to hunt, scouting, field dressing and butchering. There are also short “Maiden Hunt” videos that follow new hunters on their first trips afield.

“Our surveys have shown that the biggest hurdle for new hunters is figuring out where they should go to hunt,” Malepeai said. “These videos will teach new hunters how to use the tools at their disposal to answer that question themselves.”

IDFG offers gun safety tips

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering some gun safety tips to help the state’s hunters stay safe this fall.

Firearm accidents are rare but when they happen are usually traced to human error or inattention, according to a news release from the agency.

“Although there are very few firearm-related hunting accidents, especially relative to the number of hunters we have every year in Idaho, one of the most common causes of the accidents we have is a firearm being loaded when it shouldn’t be, such as putting it into or removing it from a vehicle or while navigating through rough terrain,” said Brenda Beckley, hunter and angler recruitment manager at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “These types of accidents are easy to avoid if you adhere to basic firearm safety principles.”

Safety tips from the agency include:

Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. When another person hands you a firearm, assume it is loaded even if you are told it is not. Ask anyone handing you a firearm to open the action before they hand it to you.

Always control the muzzle of your firearm. As long as the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction, nobody is likely to get hurt, even if the firearm discharges unexpectedly. A safety is a mechanical device that can fail, so there is no instance where you can disregard where the muzzle is pointing simply because the safety is on.

Never touch the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger while loading or unloading. Never pull the trigger on any firearm with the safety on or anywhere in between “safe” and “fire.” Again, the gun’s safety serves as a supplement to proper gun handling but cannot serve as a substitute for common sense.

Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot. Carry and use binoculars to check out the hillside. Never look through your scope at something you cannot identify.

Be certain of your target and what is beyond it. A safe hunter makes certain that movement or sound is a game animal that is in season before pointing a muzzle. Before taking a shot, a hunter must check the background for other people, livestock, buildings, equipment or roads to make sure there is a safe backstop.

Mistaking a person for game is one of the most common causes of hunting accidents in Idaho, which can be serious or fatal. One way to make sure every other person in the field can clearly identify you is by wearing hunter orange. While recommended for safety for those on both sides of the gun, Idaho is one of only a few states where hunter orange is not required, except for hunters on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked during the pheasant season. A hunter orange hat meets this requirement.

Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting. Make a habit to check your barrel often. Even a small obstruction in the bore can cause the barrel to bulge or, worse, explode. The same can happen by placing a smaller gauge or caliber cartridge into a gun, such as a 20-gauge shell in a 12-gauge shotgun. This can result in the smaller cartridge acting as an obstruction when a cartridge of proper size is fired. Always pay close attention to each cartridge you insert into your firearm and only carry the correct ammunition for the gun you’re carrying.

Never cross a fence, climb a tree or do anything potentially hazardous with a loaded gun. There will be times when common sense and the basic rules of firearms safety will require you to unload your gun for maximum safety. Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person.

Store firearms and ammunition separately. While most gun owners consider this most of the year, many leave guns and ammunition in their vehicles during the hunting season. Firearms should be unloaded for safety when in the vehicle. Ammunition should always remain inaccessible to children.

Alcohol and guns don’t mix. If there is alcohol in your hunting camp, make certain all firearms are put away before the alcohol comes out.

Don’t be timid when it comes to gun safety. Don’t hesitate to let your hunting partners know when you think they are putting themselves or others at risk. Gun safety starts with you.

Installation of fiber-optic cables should not disturb hunters

WAHA — The telecommunications company TDS is installing fiber-optic lines to existing power poles along the Snake River between Captain John Creek and Bill Creek, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Disturbance to hunters and anglers should be minimal, however work crews will be accessing the area via the Madden Corrals Road. Work is expected to be finished by Oct. 10.

Eagle Creek Road to be closed for transmission line repairs

WAHA — Work to rebuild transmission lines along the lower Salmon River on the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area near here will lead to the temporary closing of a portion of the Eagle Creek Road.

Avista Corp. plans to rebuild some of its 230-kilovolt transmission line in the area. To allow for heavy equipment access, the company will repair the Eagle Creek Road between China Creek and Wapshilla Creek prior to the work.

The road will be closed for one week between Eagle and Wapshilla creeks. The road was damaged in storms last winter and spring. The repairs are expected to start late this month and take one to two weeks to complete.

Most of the work will take place near the Hermit Springs Cabin. During the road repair and transmission rebuild work, hunters, anglers and others in the area can expect increased traffic on Eagle Creek Road and some helicopter traffic.

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