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Wildfires Update

Fall 2013 Newsletter

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are currently 16 active fires in Idaho affecting over 182,000 acres. Along with the impact for hunters and anglers, the destruction of wildlife habitat and range for winter feeding is a growing concern that will alter migration patterns and press the need for funds to mitigate these impacts. The Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation will apply individual donations to assist our partners in wildlife habitat rehabilitation and many wildlife management needs resulting from these fires.  Related fire information and other updated links are available through https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/fire


Hunt Idaho Event This Weekend in Lewiston

Idaho Fish and Game is piloting a two-day event entitled “HUNT IDAHO: Connecting Mountains to Meals” this weekend.

The event will be held Friday, August 21 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lewis-Clark Wildlife Club Shooting Range at 27007 Tom Beale Road near Lapwai, and Saturday, August 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Idaho Fish and Game regional office at 3316 16th street in Lewiston.

Anyone interested in hunting-those that have never picked up a gun before, those whom have hunted for many years but would like to try a different aspect of hunting, or even those that have been away from hunting for years are invited to attend.

Idaho Fish and Game and Lewis-Clark range staff will be available on Friday, August 21 starting at 2 p.m. to mentor participants as they shoot shotgun or try various rifle calibers. A barbeque dinner will be served starting at 4 p.m.

Saturday, August 22 will include outdoor workshops at the Lewiston Wildlife Habitat Area and the Fish and Game office. Specialized workshops to be offered include: horse packing, bear hunting in the Clearwater, calling elk, traditional vs. modern archery, upland game bird, duck hunting, women in hunting, and much more.

Families are encouraged to attend. Activities will be offered for kids such as; BB gun shooting range and laser shooting. Lunch will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participants can pre-register by calling 208-799-5010 or stopping by the Fish and Game office for an additional chance to win a rifle donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse.

More information including a schedule of events can be found on Facebook by searching Idaho Fish and Game Clearwater Region at https://www.facebook.com/IDFG.clearwater?ref=bookmarks#!/events/460701730757551/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=3&source_newsfeed_story_type=regular


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Milkweed by Terry Thomas

An annual war is forming up on the canals and ditchbanks, fields, farms and backyards all across the country. On the one side is a pretty pink wildflower called common milkweed. Landowners are on the other side, armed with an array of chemicals loaded into tanks pulled by tractors, carried by ATVs or even by backpacks, and marking their battlelines with blue dye. Anything short of milkweed annihilation seems to be unacceptable.

It is easy to see why landowners might resent this native plant. It is a perennial that not only reproduces through copious seed production but by rhizomes as well. Rhizomes are lateral roots that shoot from the mother plant at an astonishing rate and form numerous new sprouts. They can quickly create a milkweed colony where other plants cannot grow.

To see where mmilkweedilkweed gets its name, cause a little injury to a milkweed stalk. A sticky white sap will immediately begin to ooze out and run down the stem, much like a milky tear. This milky sap is full of toxins known as cardiac glycosides, making this plant poisonous to most animals, humans included.

Milkweed has several redeeming qualities though. First, the pink five-petaled flowers form up in a pretty globe on top of handsome green foliage.

Second, milkweed is attractive to many beneficial insects, providing pollen, nectar and escape cover.

Third, milkweed is the host, the only host, to monarch butterfly caterpillars which can absorb the toxins making themselves poisonous in the process. The relationship between milkweed and monarchs is similar to that between sagebrush and sage-grouse. The plant thrives without the animal, but the animal’s biology is hardwired to the plant.

It’s that third one that should give pause to the war on milkweed. Monarch numbers are dropping fast, and researchers tie it directly to the decline of common milkweed. To save a milkweed is, quite possibly, to save a monarch and thus a species.

Despite its beautiful flowers and foliage, despite the fact that the late summer seedpods are works of art, even despite the fact that monarchs must have them, for me, our native milkweed is not a plant to welcome in a small backyard.

Once, in an attempt to do my part for monarch conservation, I allowed, even encouraged, a single milkweed plant in my garden. By the second year, I had milkweed runners 12 feet from the mother plant. Feeling two-faced, yet fearing a hostile takeover, I too went to war and battle this same plant today. Its aggressive nature may be best suited for fields and woodlands. There are other species of milkweed, such as butterfly milkweed, that will still satisfy a monarch caterpillar yet won’t overwhelm the garden.

If milkweed existed for only one reason, as life support for monarch butterflies, for me that would be enough reason to preserve and even perpetuate it.  It would be hard to imagine a world where monarchs no longer fly simply because humans were intolerant of the plant that sustains them.

Terry Thomas is a wildlife biologist with 27 years of experience.  Opinions expressed are his own.