Recent elk-crossing activity near Peregrine Ranch on state Highway 75 north of Hailey has caused “significant” traffic backups and may require hazing, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said.
Magic Valley Regional Office spokesman Terry Thompson said Monday that the animals have been crossing the highway at that point—at times, loitering in the center—during the 6:30-8:30 a.m. morning commute hours. Other known elk-crossing sites farther north include Ohio Gulch and East Fork, but officers haven’t seen the same kind of traffic backups there.
“Our officers, along with Blaine County Sheriff’s deputies, are concerned about public safety when you have traffic stalled,” Thompson said.
With drivers’ cooperation, he said, elk can be encouraged to cross in a more orderly fashion.
“Our suggestion to motorists is to slow down in these known elk-crossing points when elk are present, but not stop unless absolutely necessary,” he said.
“It is always possible that elk will need to be hazed off the highway, and if that’s the case, we have several options available.”
Hazing methods could include unpleasant stimuli such as airhorns, sirens or cracker shells—firecracker-type noisemakers shot from a shotgun—or nonlethal rubber slugs or buckshot, he said.
“The method selected will depend on the current situation our officers may face,” Thompson said.
In a Friday Facebook post, the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office also urged motorists to slow down but not stop completely when encountering elk.
“Stopping completely can cause serious rear-end collisions with other vehicles,” the post said.
On its website, the Department of Fish and Game lists several tips to avoid colliding with elk or deer:
Be on high alert at dawn and dusk, as these times are when big-game animals are most active. At night, watch for shining eyes in headlights.
Brake, don’t swerve. It’s usually safer to hit an animal than a tree or other vehicle.
Bright lights: Use high beams to help you spot wildlife, but be considerate of other drivers.
Don’t tailgate. If the driver in front of you brakes suddenly for an animal in the road, you won’t be able to react in time.
Expect more animals to follow—when there’s one, there are usually more.
Scan ahead. Watch for movement, especially near the fog line and side of the road.
Slow down to increase your reaction time.
Wildlife collision information can help Fish and Game improve human and wildlife safety. Drivers who come across a dead big-game animal on the road are encouraged to report the roadkill by visiting idfg.idaho.gov/species/roadkill or calling the Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359.