Elk NetworkWintering Elk a Concern for Idaho Motorists

General | January 31, 2020

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


A herd of about 70 elk moved out of Teton Canyon Jan. 20 and ended up near Sugar City close the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 33, raising safety concerns for passing motorists.


During the night on Tuesday, the herd splintered and approximately 20 crossed to the west side of the highway and the remaining 50 headed back to the east. Fish and Game has worked with landowners to implement a baiting operation to try and lure the elk away from the highway and back toward the canyon.


Fish and Game has been working collectively with the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State Police to monitor the situation and wishes to thank them for their efforts to keep motorists safe.


During the winter months it is not uncommon for wildlife to move closer into cities or towns. As the snow gets deeper and starts to crust, animals like deer, elk and moose seek lower elevations where the snow is not as deep and food is easier to access.


Fish and Game is asking the public not to disturb the elk. Getting too close could cause them to spook and may quickly become a hazardous situation. “Human safety is our number one priority,” says Doug Petersen Regional Conservation Officer for Fish and Game. “The last thing we want is for one of these elk to be the cause of an accident or injury.”


The Idaho Transportation Department has placed a sign on the roadway warning motorist of the danger. Drivers are cautioned to be on the lookout for wildlife crossing the roadways, slow down and follow all traffic safety rules.


–UPDATE 01/24/20–


At 10:45 Friday morning Highway 20 was closed for approximately 15 minutes to allow the remainder of the elk herd to cross from the east side of the highway to the west side. “We would like to thank ISP and ITD for their quick response and collaborative effort to address this safety concern,” says Jim White, Upper Snake Regional Supervisor for Fish and Game.


Motorists are still urged to use caution and watch for wildlife crossing roads in the area.


(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)