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Treasure Valley Ground Squirrel Tests Positive for Plague

Ground squirrel deaths near Gowen Field prompt testing for plague bacteria

A ground squirrel (whistle pig) found south of Boise has tested positive for plague. Idaho public health officials and Idaho Fish and Game are asking people to take precautions as outdoor summer activities shift into high gear over the long Memorial Day weekend.

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents that can cause serious illness to people and pets if not treated quickly. Plague is generally transmitted to humans and animals through the bites of infected fleas. It also can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets. Common rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels, rats and mice. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague.

“We have investigated reported mortalities of ground squirrels in the area southeast of Boise (see map below) during May,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said. “Dogs and cats can be infected with plague through hunting rodents, playing with or consuming their carcasses, or by exposure to their fleas.”

Plague activity can increase in the spring and summer months when rodents are more active. People can be exposed to plague when pets have contact with rodents or fleas outdoors, or bring infected rodents or fleas back into the home. People also can become infected by caring for a sick pet without proper precautions.

People can greatly reduce their risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses. They should not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents. Health officials recommend:

  • Keep your pets from roaming and hunting ground squirrels or other rodents in the desert south of Boise.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on pets as not all products are safe for cats, dogs or children.
  • Clean up areas near your home where rodents can live, such as woodpiles.
  • Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian, especially if they may have had contact with sick or dead rodents in the desert south of Boise
  • See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.
  • Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
  • Don’t leave pet food and water where rodents or other wild animals can access them.

Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians who suspect plague should promptly report it to their local public health district.

In Idaho, USDA Wildlife Services tested various species of carnivores between 2005 and 2010 for the presence of antibodies to plague and just 18 animals tested positive, primarily badgers and coyotes. If people find dead ground squirrels they should not touch them, but report the location through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.

Since 1940, only five human cases of plague have been reported in Idaho. The last two cases reported in Idaho occurred in 1991 and 1992, with both patients fully recovering.

For more information:

This poster will be posted at the main access points to the affected area.

Map of suspected area where plague may be present in wildlife. Please take precautions when visiting this area.

affected area map


Editors: For public health questions, please contact Christine Myron or Tom Shanahan. For questions about the affected area or animal infections, please contact Mike Keckler. State and district health offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday, and will be closed for Memorial Day weekend.


Central District Health Department
Christine Myron
Public Information Officer


Department of Health and Welfare
Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0668


Idaho Fish and Game
Mike Keckler
Bureau Chief for Communications
(208) 287-2870

Quick tick removal tips

Ticks are out! As Idahoans flock outside for fishing, camping, or just enjoying nature for the long weekend, its good to know how to deal with them.

Our friends at Idaho Health and Welfare and the Center of Disease Control encourage safe tick removal by following these tick removal instructions.

There's also an oldy but goody article on how to prevent ticks in the first place: 10 tick facts in Idaho in the Idaho Statesman from 2014.

Clearwater Salmon Harvest Summary 5/18/15

Clearwater River Chinook salmon in 2015

This past week on the Clearwater creel section 1 closed after fishing hours on Sunday May 17th. Anglers fishing in this section still had the most success fishing from the railroad bridge to Flying J. with the majority of the effort on the hog line. Many anglers that were checked were using green plugs wrapped in herring. Creel section 2  had very good catch rates. Boat anglers reported the most success with back trolling around McGill Hole and just outside of the North Fork boundary using divers spin 'n glo with eggs kwik fish, or cut plugs. Shore anglers fishing at Big Eddy were also successful and they used tuna balls, eggs, and shrimp. Many shore anglers are also seen plunking with spin and glo’s with pink/purple shrimp or tuna balls. Creel section 4 effort picked up over the weekend with many anglers fishing from shore at Zan’s access site. Creel section 5 had very good catch rates. Most of the boat anglers were seen fishing just above Clear Creek back trolling. Shore anglers focused most of their attention at skipping stones and across the river on the dead end access sites. Check Harvest Reports for more details. - Jaime Robertson, Senior Fisheries Technician, Clearwater Region

Clearwater Region Weekly Chinook Update (5/20/15)

Hi everybody, this is Joe Dupont, Clearwater Fisheries Manager. It's time for my weekly update on the Clearwater Region’s Chinook Salmon fisheries (5/20/15). Before I get into the details, for those who fish the Clearwater River, please be sure to read the closure notice and read the section below on the Clearwater River Fishery, as another river section will be closing at the end of fishing hours on Friday.

Harvest Share

By now the run of Chinook Salmon destined for the Clearwater Region has almost all passed over Bonneville Dam.  In fact, the vast majority of these fish have also passed over Lower Granite Dam, the last of the dams they must pass over before entering Idaho. For that reason, the table below shows how many fish have passed over Lower Granite Dam (based on PIT tags), and what our harvest shares will be based on these estimates. It is important to know that not all the fish destined for the Clearwater Region have passed over Lower Granite Dam, so the run estimates and harvest shares listed below are minimums. One of the good things that happened this year is the survival of these salmon as they swim from Bonneville Dam to Lower Granite Dam has been higher than normal. I suspect this has something to do with the lower and clearer flows than normal.  As indicated earlier, these flows allow the fish to migrate faster and farther from the river’s edge which makes them less susceptible to anglers, nets, and predators. Higher survival means more fish for us to catch.   

Clearwater River Fishery

Before I get into how the fishing was in the Clearwater River basin last week, I want to point out the harvest share I used on the table below (6,500 adult fish) is what I believe is a conservative estimate.  There are still more fish on the way so don’t be surprised if we end up with an even higher harvest share than this.  Last week the fishing was excellent in the Clearwater Basin, with catch rates dropping below 10 hrs/fish in many areas. With this good of fishing, it is not too surprising that a lot of fish were harvested last week.  In fact, fishing was so good in section 2 last week that we will be closing it down to ALL salmon fishing at the end of fishing hours on Friday May 22, 2015 (see attachment). Once again, we will not leave this section of river open to Jack fishing due to their poor return.  Some people have been asking why we can’t leave river sections open to Jack fishing. The reason is that with so few Jacks coming back, we will be able to reach our harvest share on them without leaving river sections open longer.  In case you were wondering, the best catch rates that we saw were in sections 2 and 5 last week.  For those of you who like to fish the South Fork Clearwater River, I can tell you over 2,000 fish have already passed our PIT tag array in that river and more are on their way.  For those of you who want to salmon fish for memorial weekend in the Clearwater River drainage, there should be some excellent fishing for you in the areas that remain open to fishing. 

Rapid River Run

As expected, effort and harvest turned on last week for the Rapid River run. Fish were caught throughout the system with the highest catch rates actually occurring in section 1. Catch rates were also decent in the Park Hole (section 3) and Little Salmon River (13 hrs/fish). It did slow down on Sunday as the main Salmon River turned dirty due to the rains we had; but reports are that it has cleaned up some and harvest has picked up once again. Flows are supposed to climb on the Salmon River through Memorial Weekend, but they are not supposed to climb quickly. Let’s hope that it won’t cause water clarity to diminish substantially which can slow down fish movement and harvest. Once again, the harvest share I used below is an estimate, but I suspect that it won’t be too far from what we end up with. The message is, there are a lot of fish on their way to provide some excellent fishing in the next couple weeks. 

Hells Canyon Fishery

Fishing below Hells Canyon Dam was good last week as we estimated that 161 fish were harvested (256 for the season), and catch rates were 9 hrs/fish. We started trapping fish below Hells Canyon Dam for brood stock and other purposes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if catch rates dropped some, but there still should be a lot of fish in the river to catch.

Memorial weekend is almost here. I suspect many of you are planning a salmon fishing trip, just as my family is. I hope to see some of you out on the river.  Good luck fishing.  -  Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fishery Manager


New fishing access agreement on Little Salmon River - Lower Section

The Little Salmon River along US Highway 95 near Riggins is a popular fishery for Idaho anglers looking to catch Chinook salmon and steelhead. Much of the property along the Little Salmon is privately owned, and until now, a stretch that is productive for salmon and steelhead has been inaccessible to the public. Access for this popular fishery has been made possible thanks to an agreement with the Little Salmon River Ranch and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The new Little Salmon River Access area is a cooperative effort with the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

Thank you in advance to our responsible anglers who follow these rules to keep access on this property:

  • Remain in allowed areas (see maps below)
  • No wading across the river
  • No use from 10:30 pm to 5:00 am
  • No camping
  • No campfires
  • Pack-in/pack-out your garbage
  • No shooting
  • Dogs must remain under control
  • No launching of watercraft
  • No commercial use
  • Gates will be locked Oct 1 through December 31, however foot access is allowed year round



Little Salmon River Access Map And Rules Brochure
PDF Poster of these rules and this map [1,076 KB]


Detailed map for new access agreement at Mile Marker 193 on US 95.

PDF Poster of new access area [2,460 KB]



You may also be interested in an angler etiquette video Idaho Fish and Game recently put together. Learn more about how to interact with other anglers and keep it possible for Idaho Fish and Game to provide additional access by watching this video.

Little Salmon River Chinook Salmon - They are Here!!!

It's mid-May and Chinook Salmon are being caught in the Little Salmon River. During the last three days, creel clerks have observed 12 adult Chinook Salmon being caught on the Little Salmon River. Rapid River Hatchery has caught 30 fish in the trap, this week.

Get ready for a great fishing weekend with Little Salmon River flows around 1,400 cfs and clear water.

Northern Pike monitoring project

This video was shot on Killarney Lake, one of the chain lakes near Coeur d'Alene Lake. It shows how anglers help with northern pike population surveys through Fish and Game’s "Tag You’re It" program.

The video also includes a demonstration on how to fillet a pike, which makes excellent table fare.

Montana black bears harassed

Here's a video snippet shared by our friends in Montana. A female black bear and her three cubs were trapped on a bridge surrounded by overly enthusiastic tourists. We think this is a fortuitous example of what "not" to do around wildlife.

Please give wildlife plenty of distance!

FWP videographer Winston Greely recently captured this footage of a black bear sow and her cubs near Gardiner. It serves...

Posted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on Friday, May 8, 2015

North Idaho Fishing Delight - Priest Lake

Most people relate fishing only to the pursuit of fish - but it's so much more! This past week, I had the pleasure of fishing for lake trout on Priest Lake. The first day of our two-day venture was windy and conditions were difficult for holding location in a boat and getting your line down to where lake trout reside. We were fishing at a depth of 150 - 200' and with the wave movement, a lake trout would need to be very fast to catch bait moving up and down in response to the boat bobbing on the white caps. This did however, give us a great opportunity to enjoy the scenery and birds using the wind to effortlessly move up and down.

Day two brought calm and outstanding fishing. We landed and released in excess of 60 lake trout in about 5 hours of fishing. White tailed grubs seemed to be the bait of the day suspended about 18" from the bottom.

Idaho Fish and Game Releases Tigers!

Tiger trout, that is.

The Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game recently released Tiger Trout in several waters around the state. The fish were 8 - 12" long at stocking and should be easy to catch.

Tiger Trout are a sterile cross-breed between brook trout and brown trout and can be an aggressive predator on other fish species. In the wild, these species occasionally interbreed and we've documented "tigers" in both the Panhandle and Magic Valley regions. "Tigers" are being used as a fish management tool to control nongame and nonnative fish populations.

If you happen to catch one, please send us a picture.