HAILEY, Idaho (KLIX)-As heavy snow fell early on the Wood River Valley the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and local governments are working to help wildlife survive the early onset of winter. The U.S. Forest Service-Ketchum Ranger District announced it has already closed the Warm Springs drainage to protect wintering elk and deer. The closure is put into effect every year when the large animals arrive and the snow reaches levels that require protection. The intention is to help the animals conserve as much energy as they can. "All National Forest System lands from the West Fork of Warm Springs east to Ketchum and north of the Warm Springs Road within the Warm Springs drainage will be closed. Signs will be posted at normal access points," said the Forest Service in the announcement. Meanwhile the City of Hailey and the Bureau of Land Management have joined with Blaine County and cities of Bellevue and Hailey to remind people recreating in the area to mindful of wildlife and avoid disturbing them. The BLM recommends keeping a close eye out for deer and elk and go somewhere else when the animals are spotted so not to disturb them. “It’s cumulative impacts that really determine an animal’s survival,” said BLM Acting Shoshone Field Manager Lisa Cresswell in a prepared statement. “If deer or elk are disturbed once, or multiple times a day, for several days each week that adds up to a tremendous amount of additional energy expended.” A big concern is dogs, which should be kept on a leash, quiet, and if necessary left at home. Dogs might resemble coyotes or wolves and increase stress for elk and deer, according to the BLM. If a dog is caught chasing wildlife the owners could face a fine of $1,000. The federal agencies, county, and cities are working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to monitor the conditions of elk and deer herds and will consider possible access closures for both dogs and people in certain areas. More information HERE.


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