(KLIX) – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is urging people in the Wood River Valley to help avoid actions that may cause stress to wintering big game animals.

The department said this time of year is often the toughest for wintering big game animals and they don’t need additional stress caused by humans.

“In late winter, wildlife begins to draw upon the last of the fat reserves they built up during summer and fall,” Fish and Game said in a news release. “Conserving the remaining reserves becomes critical, and disturbances can mean the difference between an animal surviving winter, or dying before spring green up. Among the potential stressors for wintering wildlife is human interactions.”

The department offers a number of tips to help reduce stress on wintering wildlife.

Craig White, Fish and Game supervisor for the Magic Valley Region, said conditions of most adult elk and deer on winter ranges during the last week of February appeared to be in good health.

“The end of February dumped a lot of precipitation in an unusual pattern,” White said. “Prior to that pattern, however, it had been a relatively mild winter for deer and elk.”

Wildlife officials will continue monitoring the conditions in the Wood River Valley and take action if needed, but the department said it is optimistic that wide-spread emergency winter feeding won’t be necessary.

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