Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Someone feeds Sagewillow elk again

Fish and Game officer says population appears healthy

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley police are investigating another "illegal" elk feeding at The Community School campus at Sagewillow in Elkhorn. It's not illegal to feed big game, but it is illegal to trespass.

The latest elk-feeding incident occurred on Saturday, Feb. 23. Sun Valley police were called to the scene of the crime at 11:15 p.m. They found the remains of two hay bales, one outside the entrance to the campus and another that had been dragged about halfway up the road toward the barn.

"Most of it had been eaten," said Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Mike Crawford.

This makes the second elk-feeding episode on Community School property this month. The first occurred on Feb. 11 when three mostly eaten bales of hay were found just inside the gate at the entrance to the campus.

Crawford said the perpetrators could be charged with trespass and possibly littering.

The Community School fed the elk population that congregates in the area each winter until December. The practice was discontinued after a lawsuit was filed by the Sagewillow Homeowners Association, which claimed the elk were causing "collateral" damage to their property.

Meanwhile, Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer Lee Garwood said Tuesday that the elk population in the area appears healthy. It numbered about 55 at his last count.

"I would rate the majority of them in good body condition," he said. "There's a few that are fair, but none of them are poor."

Garwood said the elk have been eating whatever they can find—evergreens, small tree branches, willows, sagebrush and other exposed vegetation.

"That's all they're trying to do—they're trying to survive until spring," he said.

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