local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 last week

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 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 December 17 - 23, 2003


Live with winter wildlife

Fish and Game offers advice

"Elk are a very hearty animal. When wildlife die in a rough winter, elk are one of the last to go."

ó KELTON HATCH, Idaho Department of Fish and Game information and education specialist

Express Staff Writer

The most common complaint Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials hear from residents each winter is that animals in neighboring elk herds are starving.

Deer and elk commonly dig into easily accessible food sources during winter months. Sources include landscaping, pet food and drying alfalfa. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Unless itís the hardest of winters, that perception is probably not true, said Kelton Hatch, Fish and Gameís Magic Valley Region information and education specialist.

"Elk are a very hearty animal," he said. "When wildlife die in a rough winter, elk are one of the last to go."

Hatch spoke on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at a sparsely attended meeting at the Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum. His presentation, called "Living With Winter Wildlife," was designed to build awareness about the needs and habits of South Central Idahoís animals during the long, cold months of winter.

The most serious problem for the Wood River Valleyís wildlife is the continued expansion of human development, Hatch said.

Historically, deer, elk, and the animals that prey on them have moved to the relative shelter of the valley floors during winter. The valleys have more water and food and less snow than the animalsí mountainous summer range.

But as people have moved in, the traditional wintering areas have vanished, Hatch said. What remains is tight quarters that produce inherent conflicts between private property owners and animals that are wintering in the back yards of multi-million-dollar homes.

For that reason, Fish and Game does something it strongly discourages others to do: It feeds the elk.

"We feed them to protect the elk from people, and the people from the elk," Hatch said. "Many traditional wintering areas are gone."

Fish and Game has a feeding site about 10 miles west of Ketchum along Warm Springs Creek. The only reason the agency feeds there is to attract animals that would otherwise descend on the back yards of Wood River Valley residents.

Feeding operations come with their inherent problems, Hatch said. They attract predators, promote the spread of disease and can attract enough animals to damage the vegetation or yard of a feeding area. For those reasons, Fish and Game frowns on several private feeding operations throughout the area.

But the Wood River Valley isnít all deer and elk.

Moose are a "major problem and pretty dangerous, too," Hatch said.

Mountain goats are a delicate animal that conserves strength to make it thorough difficult winters at high elevations.

"When people see wild animals, you need to view them from a distance. You donít need to walk up to them and smell its breath."

Hatch offered the following tips to getting through the winter with as few problems as possible:

  • Report large numbers of congregated
    animals to Fish and Game.

  • Slow down when driving and look for eye reflections.

  • Protect yard plants and wrap trees with fencing.

  • Control your dogs.

  • Never feed wildlife.

  • Protect hay from deer and elk.



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

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.