Wildlife in the Wood River Valley need your help



BLM Office:

Twin Falls District Office

Media Contact:

Heather Tiel-Nelson

HAILEY, Idaho—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and partners Blaine County and the cities of Bellevue and Hailey, along with the Wood River Land Trust want to remind the recreating public to be mindful of deer and elk during the winter months. Your help is critical for their survival. We can all be part of the solution; and together we can balance recreation opportunities and human-wildlife conflicts.

Please remember to:

  • Look before you go; when you see deer or elk, please visit another area to avoid disturbing them.
  • Dogs should be leashed, under strict voice control or consider leaving them at home. 

“Even though it’s been a pretty mild start to the winter and deer and elk are still moving to their historic winter range that can change overnight with one snowstorm,” said BLM Shoshone Field Manager Codie Martin. “Depending on how the winter unfolds, specific restrictions may be implemented to protect wintering wildlife. These could include a no-dog restriction in certain areas, or if warranted, human-entry closures.”

 All forms of winter recreation can disturb deer and elk, displacing or preventing them from using historic winter range habitats, which are typically south-facing slopes throughout the Wood River Valley. Recreating with dogs, specifically dogs off-leash, dramatically increases stress on deer and elk. Dogs may resemble a coyote or wolf, both of which have been natural predators of deer and elk for thousands of years. A leashed dog is unable to chase the animals when their owners are recreating in town, on trails and adjacent hillsides. It is illegal for dogs to actively chase wildlife and owners can be cited according to Idaho Code with a misdemeanor up to $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Deer and elk must minimize expending their stored energy reserves in winter because of reduced available habitat, especially high-quality food. Even human presence can stress wildlife.   All recreationists need to consider their potential impacts to deer and elk and adjust their plans accordingly. Information signs are posted at all main access points where conflicts have historically occurred.

“It’s the repeated disturbance that can undermine an animal’s survival.  Winter stress on big game is cumulative. If deer or elk are disrupted once, or multiple times a day, throughout the winter–that adds up to a tremendous amount of additional energy expended that an animal might not have the reserves to sustain,” said Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Technical Assistance Manager Bradley Dawson.

 Staff from the BLM, Blaine County, Bellevue and Hailey, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Wood River Land Trust meet monthly (December-April) to discuss animal health/herd numbers, locations, weather and snowpack conditions, recreation use patterns and whether use restrictions are necessary to minimize impacts to deer and elk.

For additional information, visit the Wildlife Smart Communities website, https://wrvwildlifesmart.org/seasonal-restrictions-for-wildlife/, or contact BLM Shoshone Outdoor Recreation Planner John Kurtz at 208-732-7296, City of Hailey Administrator Lisa Horowitz/Lt. Charles Cox at 208-788-3531, or Wood River Land Trust Lands Program Manager Keri York at 208-788-3947.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.