Emergency feeding will begin for mule deer this weekend in the Pocatello areas of Mink Creek and Gibson Jack affected by the Charlotte Fire last June.
The declaration of a feeding emergency in the Charlotte Fire-affected areas should not be viewed as a signal that emergency feeding is necessary throughout the region. Even with this recent snow accumulation, winter conditions in southeast Idaho are fairly normal for this time of year. However, Fish and Game will continue to monitor winter conditions and wildlife needs throughout the region as winter progresses.
The emergency exists only for a small resident deer herd directly affected by the Charlotte Fire. These deer have been habituated to the residential areas of Mink Creek and Gibson Jack for many years and have not shown the routine migratory behavior of most mule deer herds in southeast Idaho. Even with 1,000 acres of landscape affected by the Charlotte Fire, there are thousands of acres of quality deer habitat in the immediate areas surrounding Mink Creek and Gibson Jack. Nonetheless, deer have been continuing to wander through the burn area and even crossing the highway more frequently than observed in other years.
Also contributing to this resident deer behavior are the efforts of some individuals who have engaged in feeding not sanctioned by Fish and Game. These well-intentioned activities have not been organized in a cooperative effort, and feeding locations have held deer in areas that are drawing them back and forth across roads, presenting a danger to the deer and to motorists.
To address this issue, Idaho Fish and Game has designated three feed sites to begin operation this weekend. The sites will be located close to the perimeter of the fire-impacted area in unburned sections of the landscape.