Elk feeding dilemma in Pine/Featherville

Posted at 10:42 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 14:22:23-04

A concerned viewer contacted 6 On Your Side worried about a herd of elk in the Pine/Featherville area.  She's worried about the health of the herd and the potential risk to them if they continue to wander closer towards human territory.

On Tuesday a special community meeting with residents and wildlife officials was held in Pine to discuss the issue.

"We still have 60-plus head in that one area," said Karen Savage, the resident who contacted 6 On Your Side. "They are all going to be going to the bathroom and have the potential for disease even when you're not feeding them.  There's gotta be a better solution that's win-win for the people that live in this community as well as the Fish and Game policy."

Idaho Fish and Game officials say they haven't fed elk in the area for years.  The program that used to do so expired in 2014 and the last state feeding was in 2009.

"Elk have naturally existed here in Pine for the last 60 years through bad snow winters and low snow winters," said Toby Boudreau, the Regional Supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game. "And feeding elk brings with it many problems. It's really wisest to feed elk within the means of the habitat."

Experts say elk usually eat heavily in the summer and fall. It gets them through the lean winter months like this one.

But residents say its worse than normal this year.

"The snow came so fast and so much," said Tina Venable, a Pine resident. "[The elk] didn't have a chance to follow their normal migratory patterns. And so they're trapped."

Not all residents think intervening with the herd is a wise strategy.

"They're going to survive, they're going to eat what they need to eat, and eventually they're going to die," said Doug Brown, Featherville resident. "That's just part of nature. [It's] the circle of life."