When big snowstorms roll through Idaho, people often wonder how they will affect big game, and whether Idaho Fish and Game will start feeding deer, elk, pronghorn and other animals. The short answer is so far, this is a normal winter, and there’s no need for emergency winter feeding to help animals survive.
According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in mid-February, Idaho’s snowpack ranged from 81 percent to 112 percent of average with the majority of drainages running between 85 and 95 percent.
Fish and Game has winter feeding advisory committees in each region of the state except the Panhandle (which has never had a winter feeding program). The regional advisory committees monitor weather conditions and keep a watchful eye on things such as snow depth, whether there’s crust on snow that hinders an animal’s ability to forage for food, extended periods of sub-zero temperatures, whether animals are congregating on private agriculture lands and causing problems, and other factors.
If these conditions start to occur due to winter weather, the committees convene and make recommendations to Fish and Game based on specific criteria whether to begin emergency feeding.
The photo shows an emergency feeding operation that took place at the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area in 2017.
Find more information here.
(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)