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The Game Trail

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Turkey season, identify your fish, CSI Wildlife and the bears are out!

"CSI Wildlife," does it exist? You bet. As a matter of fact, IDFG has a wildlife forensics lab in the Boise area. When your local Conservation Officer collects evidence from a wildlife crime scene, we send the evidence to Dr. Karen Rudolph in our Wildlife Lab for analysis. Dr. Rudolph is not a commissioned officer; however, she is an integral part of our Wildlife Enforcement Team, having brought many a poacher to justice in the Gem State. Your Conservation Officers are proud of Dr. Rudolph for the development and expansion of our Wildlife Forensics program, and the people of Idaho should be too, hunter or not.

On March 27, at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Phoenix, Dr. Rudolph was honored by Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North American Fish and Wildlife Foundation when she received the Guy Bradley Award for her contributions to the protection of our wildlife resources. The Guy Bradley Award is made in honor of the first wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in 1905 while protecting our nation’s wildlife resources. Dr. Rudolph is the first Idahoan, the first woman, and the first non-commissioned officer to ever receive this national award. Congratulations Dr. Rudolph and thank you!

Well spring has definitely sprung; I know so because the osprey are back doing what they do so well, catching fish. A few weekends ago the weather was the nicest we have had in seven months, and it was great to see a lot of folks taking advantage of the spring weather and getting outdoors. Well, next time we have a nice weekend, please stay at home so I can take some time off and do some fishing myself!

Here are a few reminders before getting out and enjoying some fishing or the spring hunting seasons. Most importantly, please buy the appropriate license, tags and permits for your activity. If you don’t think that you have the money for a license, you surely can’t afford a citation. River and stream fishing does not open until Memorial weekend, which lands on May 24 this year. However, Lightning Creek, Pack River, Grouse Creek, and the Clark Fork River are open right now. It is illegal to harvest Cutthroat Trout on the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille this year so please correctly identify your fish. For the bass angler, you will notice a change statewide to no size limit on smallmouth bass. The daily bag limit on bass is still six fish, however only two can be largemouth and they need to be over 16 inches in length.

Turkey hunters please be respectful of private property. There are a lot of folks in the county who would love for you to remove a few turkeys from their property; please be sure to ask permission and respect the land. Also, with the turkey population increasing and the number of turkey hunters rising there is an increased potential for accidents in the field. Two hunters stalking the same turkey can be unaware of each other’s presence so we must be cognizant of one of firearm’s golden rules; be aware of your backdrop. Additionally, the use of decoys has increased, also enticing a hunter to "stalk" your decoy. Again, please be aware of your backdrop before you pull the trigger.

Bear hunters might be waiting a little later this year to hit some of the higher country. On the other hand the snow levels are going to be bringing bears down a little lower in search of food. Please purchase a bait permit if you plan on hunting over bait, and remember no baiting in Unit 1. Also, take an extra few minutes to watch the bear’s behavior before you pull the trigger. Is it a sow with cubs? Not only is it illegal to shoot a sow with cubs, it is unethical. It is the hunter’s responsibility to take the time to make the accurate decision.

Yes folks, the bears are out and moving around so NOW is the time to bear-proof your home. Take the winter’s worth of garbage to the dump, bring the dog and cat food indoors, and take down the bird feeders. If you don’t, expect to have a bear hanging around the house in the next few weeks.

I bet I don’t need to remind you to get the kids out of the house for some good ole’ outdoor fun, they’re probably banging the door down.

Leave No Child Inside.

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Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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