REXBURG - As if the lack of water this year had not been dramatic enough, vandals earlier this month drained much of the precious water that had been stored up at Cartier Wildlife Management area near Rexburg, Idaho. According to Regional Habitat Biologist Kim Ragotzkie, "Sometime in early November Vandals removed twelve 9-foot long steel boards from the main water control structure at Cartier Slough."
The actions of these vandals resulted in the near total draining of the 50-acre main slough. Before the slough had been drained nearly 40 trumpeter swans had been observed on the slough. According to Ragotzkie, "Not only have the trumpeter swans lost a good feeding area on their migration south, but many other waterfowl that typically stopover at Cartier Slough will find few areas of open water remaining." This lack of open water means that prospects for late season waterfowl hunters have dried up as well.
Due to the ongoing drought, many area marshes and sloughs have dried up this fall. At Cartier Slough, water conditions had been excellent though, due to the season-long operation of a large U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Teton Project Recharge pump operated by the Fremont-Madison Irrigation District. The pumped water passes through the Cartier Slough on its way to the Henrys Fork River. As the pump is now shut off, the slough will not refill this year. A few of the smaller sloughs still have water due to beaver dams that hold back small amounts of water.
In a land where water is liquid gold, any acts of molestation towards irrigation control structures are against the law. Injuring dams, canals and other structures is a violation of Idaho Code 18-7019. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Idaho Department of Fish & Game at 525-7290, and ask to speak with Kim.