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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of November 13 - 19, 2002


A new wildlife strategy

It was a relief to learn that residents of the Golden Eagle subdivision at the mouth of Greenhorn Gulch are trying to figure out how to co-exist with the elk that are abundant there.

We wish them success.

Their new strategy of trying to divert the elk to a feeding station in a small canyon above the subdivision is a far cry from last winter’s attempt to drive the elk out of the subdivision with snowmobiles. It’s a far more positive and humane approach to a problem that exists in many forms throughout the valley.

Yet, even the new strategy may be complicated by the fact that the subdivision lies between the elk and sources of water in the Big Wood River and nearby ponds.

The subdivision’s problems with wildlife are acute, but not uncommon.

It is located at the mouth of a canyon, which was historically used as a wintering ground by a large elk herd. The conflict between the herd and the subdivision was predictable, but no preventive measures were put into place nor required.

Some plants used for landscaping in the subdivision are irresistible to hungry elk, not to mention attractive as shelter.

Last year, a few elk were stranded between the busy State Highway 75 and the subdivision from which they’d been driven. They were a pitiful sight for commuters, an object lesson in the consequences of growth.

The new strategy may reduce conflicts between homeowners and elk, but conflicts will not disappear. As the valley grows, residents will be faced again and again with the question of whether they can co-exist with wildlife.

Clearly, the answer is: not very well. The question that is begging for an answer is whether people can co-exist with any wildlife at all.

Examples of conflicts are everywhere. Decorative subdivision and golf course ponds attract flocks of geese that annoy people and surround ponds with greasy calling cards.

Beavers are attracted to running streams to which they apply their incredible engineering skills. Their dams slow fast water and create great wetland habitat for wildlife. Unfortunately, the aspens beloved for landscapes are the beavers’ material of choice. The dams can also create conflicts over downstream water rights.

The valley has a choice. It can become a place where people choose to be good neighbors to wildlife and to share the valley’s rich environment. Developers, planners, elected officials, and wildlife experts, working together can ensure wildlife survival, if not abundance.

Or, the valley can become a hollow landscape with canyons devoid of large and small mammals, birds and fish.

We like the first option best. Golden Eagle’s strategy is a good first step toward the tolerance and goodwill necessary for healthy wildlife in a growing area.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.