TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-Seasonal road closures are now in effect in the South Hills for motorized use to help protect wintering deer and other wildlife.

The Bureau of Land Management announced the yearly closures will run until March 15 to prevent resource damage and help protect critical mule deer winter range and sage-grouse habitat. The closures impact the roads in the Dry Creek, Indian Springs, Cherry Creek, and North Cottonwood areas (see map ). BLM said the closures could be extended if conditions call for it. The closures only impact motorized travel in the closure areas, including electric bicycles; people can continue to hike into the areas.

Officials say this year is critical for wintering mule deer following the Badger Fire that burned more than 90,000 acres in the South Hills last year. “Increased human disturbance from motorized vehicles forces mule deer to move to lower quality habitat and expend energy that they are trying to conserve,” said Eric Killoy, Burley Field Office wildlife biologist in a statement. Idaho Department of Fish and Game said it is important for big game like deer to not use any unnecessary energy during the winter months and reminds people to give the animals space when recreating in the areas.

The only motorized vehicles allowed in the closure areas are those given authorization and for search and rescue operations, including emergency medical and law enforcement.

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