Hailey elk rescue

Fish and Game officers successfully rescued this cow elk from a window well in Hailey over the weekend. Other elk and moose in the Wood River Valley haven’t been so lucky.

Three elk in Blaine County became entangled in household and livestock equipment and a fourth unlucky elk fell into a window well this past weekend, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported on Monday.

The entanglement and trapping calls prompted Fish and Game to remind valley residents to wildlife-proof their homes and barns and cover their window wells.

The first call came on Friday morning about “a cow elk with some type of disk around its neck.” The elk could not be darted because it joined a larger herd, Fish and Game stated, but will be monitored over the coming weeks.

The second report came in Friday of a bull elk with baling twine wrapped around its antlers. Fish and Game officers determined the twine was not threatening the bull’s health and decided to take no action, as the animal will lose its antlers anyway come spring.

Fish and Game received a third report on Friday about a bull elk that had gotten a horse halter and lead rope tangled around its neck and antlers. Wildlife biologists “were able to successfully anesthetize the elk using a dart to safely remove the halter and lead,” according to the department.

The fourth call concerned a cow elk that had fallen into a window well in Hailey. Three local conservation officers and the homeowner were able to safely remove the elk from the well.

Several elk and moose have fallen into “large egress window wells” in the Wood River Valley over the past few years, Fish and Game said. Two examples include an elk that fell into a Hailey basement game room in 2015 and a 500-pound female yearling moose that fell into a Sun Valley basement window well in 2019. Fish and Game was able to escort the elk out of the home; the moose died of exposure.

“Residents are encouraged to cover their window wells with either a metal fabricated cover or wooden planks. Clearing snow from around window wells will also provide a pathway around window wells, since elk or moose will follow the path of least resistance under the eaves of a house, inadvertently leading them to the window wells,” the department stated on Monday.

Fish and Game also asked residents to inspect their yards and barns to make sure that big-game animals do not catch their antlers on ropes, swing sets, wires, electrical cords or strings of lights.

“Entangled wildlife can sometimes asphyxiate, die from exhaustion, or injure themselves in efforts to get free,” the department stated. 

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