Elk NetworkIdaho Begins Elk Feeding Operation to Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflicts

General | December 20, 2022

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Idaho Fish and Game staff from the Magic Valley Region will begin feeding elk at the Bullwacker feed site in mid-December 2022 as deep snow begins to accumulate throughout the Wood River Valley. Over 125 elk are fed in a typical winter. It is anticipated that feeding will continue until April 2023.

Residents and visitors are asked to stay away from the feed site in order to not disturb the elk.

Located west of Ketchum, the Bullwacker feed site is the only Fish and Game Commission sanctioned feed site in Idaho. Depending on winter conditions, feeding typically begins in late December or early January.

Feeding at Bullwacker has occurred on an annual basis since the 1980s, with periodic feeding beginning in the 1950s.

The feed site was established with the intention of keeping elk away from the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley. While many think of feed sites as a way to supplement food on winter range, the Bullwacker feed site’s purpose is to lure elk away from local communities where conflicts can occur.

A large number of deer and elk have become year-round or seasonal residents within communities throughout the Wood River Valley, leading to an increased number of human-wildlife conflicts in the winter. Big game that remains in and around communities run a higher risk of getting hit on roads and highways, caught in fences, falling through thin ice on decorative ponds and into household window wells, as well as getting chased by off-leash dogs, and tangled in swing sets and hammocks.

Feeding wildlife by residents is strongly discouraged since unauthorized feed sites can lead to unintended consequences of attracting wildlife into close proximity of towns and neighborhoods. (Please read Feeding elk and deer in town does more harm than good.)

For more information about how to reduce human-wildlife conflicts and suggestions on how to live and recreate safely around wildlife visit the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities website.

(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife)