As of Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Winter provides great opportunities to view Idaho wildlife, but it is very important to enjoy the view from a distance. Winter can be very stressful for wildlife, especially in winters like this when snow is deep or crusted.
“Wintering big game animals are very susceptible to any kind of disturbance whether it is from passing motorists, domestic dogs, or antler hunters in late winter and early spring,” said Daryl Meints, Fish and Game wildlife manager based in Jerome. “And there’s growing concern that winter recreationists are putting additional stress on wintering big game in many areas of the state.”
At this time of year, deer and elk are relying solely on their body reserves and what little they can get from surrounding vegetation. Any extra movement an animal makes costs energy and that depletes the reserves it has left. Energy depletion can lead to malnutrition and oftentimes death, especially for fawns and calves at this critical time of year.
“Right now, deer and elk are just trying to hang on until spring green-up,” said Meints. “Some animals may be pushed over the edge unintentionally by people, and we all need to keep that in mind.”
Besides avoiding wintering deer, elk and pronghorn as much as possible, recreationists can help big game get through the winter by following these simple steps:
• Refrain from antler hunting.
• The same goes for those who ski, hike, or ride snowmobiles in areas with big game.
• Avoid emergency winter feeding sites.
• Keep dogs under your control.
• Watch from a distance.