Press Release

Winter Wildlife Conditions Report February 2000

UPPER SNAKE REGION - Although the winter conditions in the Upper Snake have been milder than normal, we have not been immune to depredation problems by antelope, deer, elk and moose. These depredations are occurring on haystacks, but are not because of the lack of available native forage. Rather, they are due to the fact these animals would prefer to eat 2nd or 3rd cut alfalfa than native shrubs or grass. Allowing deer, elk, moose and antelope to feed on such haystacks can create long-term problems, not only during harsh winters but even during mild winters. In addition, respecting designated wintering big game area closures can also reduce depredation problems by providing security areas and reducing animal stress. Finally, remember deer, elk and moose antlers may only picked up in the field during May 1 through December 31 for Units 60, 60A, 66, 67, 68, 68A, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 73A, 74, 75, 76, 77 and 78.

Spring and early summer weather conditions were generally cool and wet, which resulted in good foraging opportunity for deer and elk. In addition, fall and winter weather conditions were unseasonably warm. Therefore, deer and elk are in good physical condition. Many animals are being observed on transitional areas between their winter and summer ranges. Deer have been observed wintering as high as 9,300 feet in January during Idaho Department of Fish and Game's big game winter flights.

Harvested deer & elk observed at local check station were healthy and had good body fat condition. Fat measurements on yearling bucks were excellent with an average fat measurement of 11.5 mm (values > 8 mm are considered excellent).

LOCAL CONDITIONS

Sand Creek, Hamer

Animals are wintering in 0-18 inches of crusted snow with available native forage. Deer, elk and moose are in good physical condition.

Swan Valley, Teton Basin, Conant Creek

Animals are wintering in approximately 1 foot of crusted snow however much of the native forage is available. Currently, about 300 elk are being fed at the Rainey Creek bait site and are in good physical condition.

Big Desert/INEEL

Mostly open, with scattered pockets of crusted snow. Plenty of native forage is available. Deer, antelope and elk are in good physical condition.

Big and Little Lost Rivers, Birch Creek, Medicine Lodge

Fair accumulation of snow in the valleys. Many of the south slopes are still open. Because of the lack of snow, deer & elk are still utilizing higher elevation ridge tops and mountaintops. Deer, elk & antelope are in good physical condition.

Tex Creek

Animals are wintering in 0-5 inches of crusted snow. More than 1,000 elk have been observed on Tex Creek and are good physical condition.