Idaho will not implement emergency feeding stations

Photo credit: Getty Images

We’re in the thick of winter with spring thaw still months away. However, despite the winter conditions that could impact big game animals along Idaho’s Southeast Region, for now, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has determined that emergency feeding stations are currently not necessary.

This is to help big game animals adapt to the circumstances rather than rely on an unnatural feed source. Undisturbed winter ranges and access to them are ways big game animals like mule deer or elk survive these challenging conditions. And even with additional emergency feed, winterkill will still occur every year. This is due to a variety of factors like “extreme weather, poor body condition of animals going into winter (linked to summer drought conditions), lack of quality winter range” or a combination and emergency feeding isn’t always the solution some may think it is, according to IDFG.

The fact is that big game animals rely on building and maintaining fat reserves obtained during the bountiful summer months and while supplemental feed may keep them going for a short time, once that fat reserve depletes, it is impossible to rebuild using supplemental feed. 

Regardless, should IDFG decide it is necessary, here is the criteria used for evaluating whether emergency feeding stations are needed: 

  • Snow depths;
  • Number of consecutive days of subzero daytime temperatures;
  • Presence of crusted snow;
  • Winter range conditions and access to winter range;
  • Animal body conditions;
  • Number of animals affected;
  • Animal movements near or across roadways; and
  • Depredations on private property

Wildlife managers will continue monitoring big game herds to determine whether any supplemental feeding will be required. While IDFG has implemented winter feeding during other winters, it is not used every year. 

Stay up-to-date on winter feeding and meetings


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