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:
- General overview: www.cdc.gov/plague/
- FAQs: www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html
- Protect Yourself From Plague fact sheet
- Idaho Department of Fish and Game: fishandgame.idaho.gov
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.
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
Public Information Officer
Idaho Fish and Game
Bureau Chief for Communications
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.
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.
As Fish and Game stocks rainbow trout this spring, they are doing something different that will lead to better success for Idaho anglers. A good share of the hatchery rainbow trout stocked in Idaho’s largest still-water fisheries this spring will be twelve inches instead of the standard of ten inches. Watch this video to learn why this is happening.
Fish and Game’s rainbow trout hatchery program exists for one sole purpose: putting fish in Idaho waters for anglers to catch. But during the last ten years, the cost of raising fish has skyrocketed. While the cost of fish food has increased by more than 150 percent, funding for the hatchery program has remained stagnant. In 2011, managers reduced fish production of put-and-take rainbow trout by 18 percent to keep the program within budget. At the same time they started tracking fish that anglers caught as part of a program called “Tag-You’re-It”.
Fisheries researchers tagged thousands of fish over a four year period, and tracked the tags with the help from anglers.
“We tagged a bunch of fish and put those fish out there, and essentially let the anglers do the work in returning that information to us through our hotline and our website,” said Senior Fisheries Research Biologist John Cassinelli. “So that has given us this large database.”
That database showed that twelve inch rainbow trout are more likely to be caught than ten inch trout. This knowledge has allowed researchers to reorganize the hatchery rainbow trout program in a way that puts larger trout in the creels of Idaho anglers without increasing the cost of the hatchery program.
The science and math show that for every limit of six rainbow trout anglers catch, Fish and Game must stock roughly 18 ten inch trout. When 12 inch trout are stocked in the same waters, only 11 fish are needed for each six fish limit, on average.
Regardless of how many trout managers stock, the true measure of success for the hatchery program is how many trout anglers catch. As the program expands over the next 16 months, managers will be putting more twelve inch rainbows into most of Idaho’s large still-water fisheries.
Check out the fish stocking page for monthly updates on fish stocking region by region.
With opening day for Chinook Salmon just days away, here are some projections for run size in 2015: