Idaho Game and Fish Commission considers salmon, auction tags and mineral rights
The Chinook salmon that would be heading for the upper reaches of the Salmon River have not yet been seen at Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River.
Idaho Fish and Game managers had intended to propose Chinook fishing seasons on the South Fork Salmon and the upper Salmon rivers to Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners during their meeting Thursday, May 10.
They held back asking until the fish begin to show themselves. Tiny transponders inserted in hatchery origin salmon before they head downstream as juveniles are detected at the federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers. From transponder data, biologists can determine what hatchery the returning adults originated from and how many have passed over the dams.
So far no fish from the South Fork or upper Salmon rivers have been detected.
Fish managers expect to know enough by June 4 to recommend seasons to the commission. If the fish begin to show up as expected, they plan to propose seasons in the upper and lower sections of the South Fork Salmon River and in four segments of the upper Salmon River.
To check on Chinook salmon counts go to the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/fish/?getPage=111.
In other action, the Fish and Game Commission on May 10 directed the Fish and Game Department to begin to develop rules for special wildlife auction tags as directed by the Legislature.
New state law authorized the commission, at its discretion, to issue three elk, three deer, three pronghorn, one moose, one bighorn sheep, and one mountain goat tag for auction. The commission would consider the rules later this year.
During the May 10 meeting, Commissioner Wayne Wright expressed concern that some landowners were using landowner appreciation tags to charge large trespass rights to hunters. He cited an instance in the Bennett Hills, where 25 percent of tags in some controlled hunts go to landowners, where a hunter paid $12,500 in trespass rights to hunt a specific buck promised by the landowner.
Wright urged commissioners to consider reducing the number of landowner appreciation tags to 10 percent.
In some controlled hunts, Fish and Game sets aside a number of controlled hunt tags as landowner appreciation tags for landowners who qualify. In most cases the number of tags set aside is an additional 10 percent of the total controlled hunt tags available for that particular hunt.
In another matter, the commission also approved including 386 acres on the Payette River Wildlife Management Area in an Idaho Department of Lands mineral rights auction this year. The approval of the lease for gas drilling included the stipulation that there would be no surface disturbance on the wildlife management area.
Lease payments would be small, but Fish and Game would earn royalties on any natural gas extracted from the leased lands.
The commission also honored two commissioners whose terms expire at the end of June. Gary Power of Salmon and Wayne Wright of the Magic Valley both have served eight years on the commission.
The commission's next scheduled meeting is July 11 to 13 in Coeur d'Alene. For information about the commission visit the Fish and Game website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/.