Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Warm Springs area closed to protect elk

Closure helps animals get through winter

Express Staff Writer

An annual winter closure in the Warm Springs drainage is now in effect. The closure is to protect deer and elk that winter in that area from unnecessary stress.

All areas in the Sawtooth National Forest on the north side of Warm Springs Road between the West Fork of Warm Springs Creek east to Ketchum have been closed and notices are posted.

The closure—to all types of outdoor recreation—does not include out-of-bounds areas of Bald Mountain.

“This is a yearly closure that is routinely implemented when the presence of wintering big game animals and snow depth indicate that the protection is warranted,” Ketchum Ranger District Range Technician Bill Whitaker said in a news release. “The closure keeps the animals from expending energy trying to avoid humans.”

Whitaker said the duration of the closure will depend on the severity of the winter and the condition of animals as springtime approaches.

He said the public should avoid getting close to elk wherever they are found, not just in the Warm Springs area. Elk fatten during summer and fall, and those reserves must last them through the winter season of poor forage. Whitaker suggested looking out for tracks and trails that could indicate the presence of deer and elk in any area.

“It’s important to avoid stressing elk so they can use their energy reserves to survive the winter,” he said.

People can contact the Ketchum Ranger District at 622-5371 for more information on the closure.

Kate Wutz:

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