The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is taking an uncommon approach to protect southern Idaho crops by trapping and relocating about 70 elk.
IDFG will move up to 70 antlerless elk in the Little Camas region of southern Idaho to reduce the size of an elk herd that has historically been depredating on agricultural crops.
Elk in this area have a long history of expensive damage to crops on private property at night, and then retreating to adjoining private property during the day. Because all activity will be on private ground, there will not be any disruption to ongoing hunting seasons.
Up to 70 cows and calves will be trapped and transported to central Idaho. Any bulls captured in the trapping effort will be anesthetized, ear-tagged, and released on-site.
"Trapping and translocation of any wild animal is both dangerous and stressful to the animal as well as Fish and Game employees who are responsible for the trapping process," IDFG says. "To keep employees and elk safe, extensive planning has occurred to address a wide range of possible scenarios that might happen during the trapping and transporting of elk."
IDFG says every effort will be made to minimize stress and injury to elk, but it is possible that a small number of elk may die as a result of the effort.
"Any elk that die due to the trapping effort will be promptly field-dressed, refrigerated, and then professionally processed before being donated to Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry for distribution to area food pantries," IDFG says.
According to IDFG, elk populations in southern Idaho are high and it has been a long time issue with the state's farmers.
Crop damage caused by elk across southern Idaho have gone up over the past several years. A contributing factor is the abundant and healthy elk populations in several elk management zones.
Over the last several years, IDFG has become more aggressive toward depredation issues by increasing hunting opportunities during the regular season, depredation hunts, hazing, issuing kill permits to landowners and the use of Department sharpshooters on private property.