Elk Are Getting Tangled in the Wood River Valley
HAILEY, Idaho (KLIX)-Wire tomato cages, plastic buckets, and a sled are some of the items removed from elk in the Wood River Valley in recent days. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says since the beginning of February conservation officers have dealt with four instances where elk have gotten tangled in something from someone's backyard, typically garden items like tomato wire cages. Most of the calls have come from between Bellevue and Hailey.
Why are Wire Cages Getting Caught on Wood River Valley Animals?
Idaho Fish and Game says wire cages are especially problematic and common to get caught around the elk because the animals are trying to find left over vegetation. The elk stick their heads inside and end up with a cage around their heads. Its not just a problem for elk, as deer and moose can get them stuck around their heads too.
When Will Idaho Fish and Game Intervene?
Depends on the situation and if the animal is in danger with whatever is wrapped around their head. In some cases conservation officers will not do anything if the animal's life is not in danger and the item might fall off on its own. According to Idaho Fish and Game, if its something like a tomato wire cage officers may jump in because the metal wire won't come off easily. Sometimes it may not be safe to capture the animal in certain situations and too dangerous.
Idaho Fish and Game says using tranquilizer to stop an animal isn't as simple as some may think. For one, conservation officers do not carry the anesthetizing drugs with them and must call for it. While very few are trained to administer the drugs. Also, the drug can kill an animal if it reacts badly and just the process of darting it can cause stress. Plus, the drugs don't stop the animal right away and they can continue to run, causing a potentially bigger problem. Idaho Fish and Game says the animal may run onto a busy roadway, into a river, or a neighborhood.
The question was raised by people on social media recently when conservation officers mad the decision to shoot and kill a bull moose that had gotten close to traffic on the interstate near Declo last month.
Many Other Yard Items Have Gotten Caught Around Elk and Other Animals
In past years conservation officers have had to pull a variety of items off elk and other wintering animals in the Wood River Valley. Swing sets, tennis court nets, lawn ornaments, hammocks, Christmas wreaths, Christmas lights, clothes lines, and even bird feeders. Idaho Fish and Game asks residents to inspect their yards, "Residents that live near wildlife, especially elk, deer, and moose, should inspect their yards, fences, pastures and all other parts of their property for items that could entangle wildlife, and if found, immediately remove them and securely store them in an area that wildlife cannot access."
Below is from several years ago when Idaho Fish and Game had to pull a horse halter off a bull elk and a swing set off another: