With winter creating harsh conditions for wildlife in a few places, Idaho Fish and Game has been feeding about 1,050 elk at 8 sanctioned feeding sites, and about 2,450 deer at 36 sanctioned sites in the southern and eastern parts of the state.
In addition, 650 elk are being baited away from agricultural operations at six locations.
Statewide, big game populations number about 115,000 elk, 200,000 white-tailed deer and 300,000 mule deer.
In the Southwest Region, big game came into winter in good shape as a result of good fall foraging conditions. Prolonged and above average snow depths and below freezing temperatures will take their toll on the young and the old wintering ungulates.
Weather data is not available for all sites, but in Garden Valley snowfall for January was 41.2 inches - twice the average - and the average temperature was below freezing. This pattern appears to be typical in most of the Southwest Region this year.
Emergency deer feeding conditions were declared February 7.
Fish and Game is feeding 170 mule deer at 8 sites in the Garden Valley-Lowman area.
About 80 elk are being fed incidentally to deer at these sites. The numbers are lower than typical feeding years, but numerous deer and elk are becoming more visible feeding naturally on the open hill sides.
With snow levels well above average in the Weiser Basin, Fish and Game has begun to bait elk away from agricultural and livestock operations in Cambridge, Weiser Flats, Mayfield and Council. Near Mountain Home, Fish and Game is baiting elk away from a livestock operation and from Interstate 84.
In the Magic Valley Region, deer entered winter in excellent condition. Deer and elk throughout the region appear to remain in good condition. Snowpack across the region is slightly above the 30 year average for this date, but it is still below average for the entire snow season. Temperatures have been relatively high for the past week and are forecast to remain high for the next week, which will continue to improve conditions for big game.
Fish and Game is feeding 544 elk at five sites.
In the Southeast Region, snow survey stations reported that the Blackfoot, Portneuf, and Bear River watersheds were all at 100 percent of the 30 year average.
Conditions across the region were milder than average through about the middle of January. But some low temperatures and high winds with blowing snows hit the region during the last two weeks of January and the first week of February.
Criteria for snow depth, temperature, and deer condition have been met in Georgetown Canyon and west Bear Lake in the past two weeks.
Fish and Game is feeding about 800 mule deer at 10 to 12 sites.
Elk also are being baited to a feed site between Swan Lake and Treasureton to alleviate depredations on haystacks and to keep them off U.S. Highway 91.
In the Upper Snake Region, big game animals were in average condition entering winter. Snow pack across the region is 107 percent to 133 percent of average.
Fish and Game is feeding 140 elk at two sites, 465 mule deer at 11 sites, and 20 white-tailed deer at one site.
In other parts of the state, conditions did not meet local criteria for emergency winter feeding.
After a series of storms, the Clearwater River Basin received about 120 percent of the average precipitation. Daily high temperatures have risen to around 50 degrees in Lewiston and about 40 degrees across the rest of the region. Given the late stage of the winter, ungulate survival outlook should be good.
No winter feeding reports were available from the Salmon and Panhandle regions.