The Wood River Valley acts as a wildlife corridor to a variety of animals such as bears, deer, elk, wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions. The wildlife in this area are very important to our ecosystem, and it is crucial that we learn to coexist with them and preserve their environment.
In an effort to help protect these animals, Blaine County has partnered with several organizations to create guidelines, resolutions, and ordinances that help protect our local wildlife.
Help Our Wintering Wildlife
Blaine County, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Blaine County Recreation District, Wood River Land Trust, the City of Bellevue, and the City of Hailey have worked together to build the Administrative Guidelines for Winter Wildlife Closers and Restrictions. These guidelines were put together to provide direction to educate the community, and to put restrictions in place to protect our wintering wildlife.
The Wood River Valley is a destination for summer and winter recreation, but in the winter recreational activities can be incompatible with the local wildlife, and cause extra stress that is detrimental to their health. Each year, deer and elk summering at higher elevations in the mountains migrate to lower elevation winter ranges. The fat reserves these animals accrue in the summertime is necessary in order to sustain them through the winter as deep snow, scarce food, and sub-zero temperatures force these animals to draw on these fat reserves in order to survive. Conserving energy and minimizing loss of these fat reserves is crucial, and is the best chance for these animals to survive the winter.
We can easily get in our cars and go someplace else, but for deer or elk, moving even a couple of hundred yards through deep snow can exhaust an already malnourished animal, particularly a fawn or calf trying to get through its first winter. It is up to us, as a community, to protect these animals and by leashing our pets, and giving them space when we see them on the trails. We ask that everyone review the Administrative Guidelines and learn the best practices for recreating around wintering wildlife.
Protect Our Summer Wildlife
Wildlife such as mountain lions, bears, elk, deer, and moose frequent the Wood River Valley and it is important to be aware of your surroundings when exploring the area. It is important to make sure to make the wildlife aware of your presence so you don't accidentally startle them, and give them plenty of space. Do not wear ear buds or headphones while recreating, so you can be aware of any sounds or warning signs that an animal may be nearby. When animals are startled this will trigger their fight or flight, and could cause them to charge or attack.
- Never allow wildlife to have access to human food or garbage.
- Always keep your pets on a leash
- Carry bear spray, which can be an effective deterrent to animals such as mountain lions.
- If you encounter a mountain lion or bear remember to never run, don't turn your back on the animal, make yourself look as big as possible, make loud noises, if attacked fight back.
For more information about recreating around wildlife read this article from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.