Greenhorn elk face
Express Staff Writer
elk to protect expensive, non-native landscaping in a ritzy mid-valley
subdivision appears to have come to a conclusion.
elk and deer near Greenhorn Gulch will not be subjected to motorized
harassment in future years as they have been this year, Fish and Game
said. Express photo by David N. Seelig
Department of Fish and Game said Monday it will not allow wildlife hazing
to occur in the Golden Eagle subdivisions near Greenhorn Gulch in the
future, with possible exceptions this spring if the elk return to the
valley floor. Harry Rinker, the developer of Golden Eagle I and Golden
Eagle II, had obtained permission from Fish and Game to haze the animals
using snowmobiles and spotlights earlier this winter.
In a Jan.
17 letter to the Idaho Mountain Express, Rinker said he acted on behalf of
the Golden Eagle Homeowner’s Association and their board of directors.
personally talk to (Fish and Game Magic Valley Regional Supervisor) Dave
Parrish and passed on his recommendation to the board and the people
involved, and they followed his directions and did not haze the elk off of
the property but gently herded them when damaging the trees," Rinker
appears to have worked, and the wintering elk returned to higher ground.
actions upset a contingent of Wood River Valley wildlife advocates who
telephoned and wrote Fish and Game and the Blaine County Board of
know, in retrospect, it was a mistake to allow those animals to be
harassed," Parrish said Friday. "This spring and summer, Fish
and Game is going to develop a long-term plan on how to deal with the
situation up there."
state law prohibits harassment of wildlife from motor vehicles, unless
permission is granted by Fish and Game.
illegal to "use any motorized vehicle to molest, stir up, rally or
drive in any manner any of the game animals or game birds of this
state," according to Idaho Code.
would not elaborate on the proposed plan, but in a January interview about
the issue, he mentioned that fencing individual trees and shrubs would
protect vegetation without stressing the animals during hard winter
winter, elk, deer and other wildlife species live off their bodies’ fat
stores, which they pack on when summer and fall forage is abundant and
green. Fish and Game often recommends that people give wintering wildlife
a wide berth to avoid frightening them.
resident Gerry O’Toole agreed that giving the animals plenty of room and
freedom to winter where they please is the best policy. He added that Fish
and Game should not wait until spring to draft a policy for dealing with
the Greenhorn-area elk.
think they should do something now," he said. "We have a lot of
winter ahead of us. I’m sure we’ll get some more significant snow, and
the elk could come back down."
heavy snows force the animals to the valley floor again, Parrish said Fish
and Game will evaluate the situation and decide how to proceed. He could
not promise hazing would or would not occur.
we won’t have to deal with it any more this winter," he said.
"It looks like the elk are moving up on those open hillsides, and
they are finding some forage."
are a natural part of the Wood River Valley’s ecosystem, but from the
1890s through the early 1900s, the large ungulates grew scarce as settlers
over-harvested them to keep food on their dinner tables.
valley’s elk herd has prospered largely because of recent mild winters,
careful hunting management and favorable summer range, according to the
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
typical winter, elk are forced from high elevations to search for food,
and they move along established migration routes toward traditional winter
One of the
biggest problems facing the Wood River elk herd is loss of winter range,
the foundation states in an informational pamphlet.
valleys and side canyons are brimming over with buildings, and land is
fetching top dollar on the real estate market," the foundation
states. "As their prime winter range disappears, elk have been forced
to crowd onto the few remaining winter range sites, bringing a host of