Officials in the Wood River Valley say last winter was one of the deadliest on the books for elk.
The numbers? Over 80 animals died from three main causes: eating poisonous plants, getting trampled at a Fish and Game feeding station and injuries from bales of hay falling on them.
Around 20 elk were crushed by stacked hay bales over the course of last winter.
In response to more than 30 elk deaths linked to the toxic yew plants, the Idaho Mountain Express reports Blaine County passed an ordinance mandating property owners clear the plant from their land. Violations can result in up to 6 months in jail, fines of up 6,000 dollars, or both.
The biggest die-off last season happened at the Fish and Game feeding station. The majority of the 43 casualties were caused by trampling, but several animals were taken down by mountain lions.
Fish and Game has since upgraded the facility and now distributes food pellets over a wider area. The department emphasizes they don't feed the animals because they're starving, but because their natural winter habitat is in the middle of lands that have been developed.
So far this winter, there haven't been any deaths at the upgraded feeding station.
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