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The Game Trail

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On Spring and Wildlife

The woods are coming alive again, the trillium are blooming, and the morels are popping through the warming soil. There’s still quite a bit of snow on the ground and travel far into the hills is pretty restricted. Please don’t assume some road is passable just because you drove on it this time last year. Also, some rivers and creeks are at or near flood stage as I type this, so fishing is going to be difficult if not impossible for some time. Please use some caution and common sense when recreating around flooded streams.

Springtime also means we will be blessed with baby wildlife hitting the ground. Subsequently, game wardens across the state will be receiving calls from concerned citizens that have taken “abandoned” baby wildlife into possession. Unfortunately, the folks trying to help are doing the most harm. It is very rare that a mother deer or elk will abandon their young; in most cases, if a baby appears abandoned, mom is off feeding, replenishing much-needed nutrients. Please, do not pick up any baby wildlife; leave it where you found it.

The same is true for wounded animals; please do not try to save them by picking them up and placing them in your garage. Not only can this injure the animal further, but you may be injured as well. I have seen what raptor talons can do to a person’s arm. It’s not pretty when the Doc has to cut your tendons and muscles to release an Osprey’s fish grabber from your forearm! Bear cubs are pretty darn cute until they shred your pants and flesh like a paper shredder. And the swift kick from a deer or elk can make you feel like you went ten rounds with Muhammad Ali. The best treatment for injured wildlife is Mother Nature, so let her do her thing. Many times these critters heal themselves and adapt to life once again. If we play hero and intervene, most times the animal has less chance of living a life it was supposed to as a wild animal. If the injury is severe enough, call the local officer and we will make the decision to euthanize.

Spring brings the glorious rains that make things grow, top off our wells, and fill up our lakes and streams. However, heavy rains and snowmelt lead to muddy roads and trails, softening the roadbed. If you’re making tire ruts on the road and kicking up mud it’s probably not a good idea to be on that road. If it’s your own property, then more power to you, have fun. If it’s public property, use some caution, and have respect for the land. Those who don’t care and tear up our Forest Service roads ruin it for everybody. Please call me if you see someone engaged in this idiotic behavior.

By the time this prints turkey season will be over and there will be only a few days left in bear season. It’s been an extremely slow bear season, with low harvest rates. If we have a hot dry summer with a huckleberry crop failure, we are in for it with the bears. Now is the time to bear proof your home. I don’t care where you live in Bonner County, it’s bear country! For the newcomers, get used to the bears and learn to live with them. For pointers on things you can do to live harmoniously with local wildlife please call the Regional Fish and Game office in Coeur d’ Alene at 208-769-1414.

With all the streams and rivers blown out for the time being, try fishing some of our lowland lakes. Our hatchery crews have been tirelessly planting fish for weeks. Speaking of our hatcheries, if you have never seen a hatchery or met our crews, give them a call and set up a date for a tour. It’s pretty cool stuff, especially for kids.

Here are a few reminders and deadlines: The application period for this fall’s deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts runs through June 5. Applications may be made by phone at 1-800-554-8685 or 1-800-824-3729, at Fish and Game offices, license vendors or on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Also, the moose, sheep, goat controlled hunt results are out and available at the above website.

Get a copy of the regulations, register your boats and ATVs, grab the kids, and head out the door for some fun. Remember to obey the laws, respect the land, and please clean up after yourselves. See you out there!

Leave No Child Inside

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

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