Magic Valley Winter Feeding Report - Feb. 27, 2017

History

The Magic Valley Region has significant history of winter feeding and has an active Winter Feeding Advisory Committee.

Feb. 27, 2017 status report

Blaine County experienced colder weather and snowfall during the last week, which resulted in more animal movement and more animals returning  to feed sites.

The feed site at the “Queens Crown” originally had more than 400 elk on feed, but over the last two weeks, that number decreased to roughly 150-200. On Feb. 24, the number of elk at this feed site went back up to roughly 400 elk.

The feed site is on the southern end of the Queens Crown had no elk, and feeders were monitoring the site to see if elk were coming back. On Feb. 25, about 50 elk returne, and feeding resumed.

The number of deer at the feed site near Bellevue continues to fluctuate as animals use the plowed city roads to move around.  The landowners/homeowners in this area are  tiring of all the deer, so the Department has been building “drift” fences to keep the deer out of peoples front  yards. We have also been trying to slowly move this feed site east and closer to the mountains. We have ceased feeding at several deer feed sites, especially feed sites that were located on or near south facing slopes. The animals at these locations have moved up in elevation, away from the feed and onto more suitable winter range.

At all of the deer feed sites, fawn mortalities have increased in the last week, with the cause of death typically being malnutrition. At elk feed sites, mortalities have remained low.

The Bullwhacker feed site operation is going  well. This year there have been six known mortalities. One adult cow that did not die of starvation, and five calves. 

Totals: 21 feed sites, 676 deer, 1533 elk 

The purposes of the feeding sites are as follows:

  • Critical winter conditions - 13 sites
  • Public safety - 15 sites
  • Private property damage - 24 sites
  • Reduce elk/cattle interaction 10 sites
  • Range fire - 0