We write in response to the Department of Fish and Game’s decision not to set up any elk feeding stations south of Ketchum. State Wildlife Manager Jon Rachael says “we will remain vigilant.” Really? Did that not happen before, in early 2017? Vigilant remained the word of the day until heavy pressure from ranchers and farmers and valley residents forced Fish and Game to recognize that elk and deer were starving due to the severe early winter. The only difference between 2017 and 2019 is that the record snows arrived in February instead of late December.
With our weather pattern predicted to remain cold, it is unlikely that early spring will provide any bare ground for deer and elk to feed in the north portion of our county. What is Mr. Rachael thinking? Could it be he doesn’t want to use the special funds set aside for feeding elk so that they divert to the general fund? (For every elk tag sold, $1.50 goes into a fund for feed. If unused, that money diverts to the general fund).
Could it be that he doesn’t consider state Highway 75 south of Ketchum to be heavily traveled and dangerous to drivers who routinely hit the elk that are standing by the side of the road? Does a human life need to be lost before Fish and Game decides to mitigate? The elk corridor runs east and west between Ketchum and Hailey. The number of elk standing along the roadway and breaking into hay storage has increased dramatically of late—because they need food. It is not rocket science to know that yearling calves and pregnant mamas require a lot of nutrition during these two months.
We need better management this year. Call the Fish and Game office at 208-324-4359. The elk need our help.
Lynn Campion and Ted Waddell, Hailey