Six elk were struck shortly after midnight Wednesday while trying to cross U.S. Highway 33 to join other elk camped between the highway and Sugar City, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said.
Fish and Game officials are still perplexed by a group of stubborn elk that refuse to be baited away from the area. Fish and Game generally only feeds elk in emergency situations.
Curtis Hendricks, Fish and Game regional wildlife manager, said the herd migrated west from the Teton River canyon area and has broken into four groups “scattered in tricky areas.”
Last week, Fish and Game began baiting the elk in hopes of getting them to move east away from the highway and livestock feeding operations, but that has met with marginal success. About 30 moved east into a safer area but they were replaced with several others in the dangerous spot.
“It’s a moving target that changes daily,” Hendricks said. “We have a bunch of people trying to monitor those elk and trying to figure out the best plan forward. It’s really a hard place based on developments, roads, highways, fences — it’s a tricky place to get things right out there.”
Fish and Game has three emergency conditions that can trigger winter feeding. Those include preventing damage to private property, such as damage to haystacks; public safety concerns, such as elk congregating near a busy highway; and harsh winter conditions.
“The funny thing is the elk haven’t locked onto bait consistently,” Hendricks said. “As crazy as it sounds, something is a higher priority to them than food.”