Monthly Archives: January 2023

Three moose relocated from Wood River Valley communities

Moose, when facing multiple winter stressors can be unpredictable and react aggressively.

Idaho Fish and Game staff recently moved three moose when they became a public safety hazard in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. Moose can become a threat to public safety, particularly if they become stressed by human activity such as people getting too close, or the presence of dogs, both leashed and unleashed.

On Saturday, January 14, 2023, a cow moose was moved from the Sun Valley Village after several instances of people approaching too closely led to subsequent reports of the moose showing signs of becoming increasingly agitated. In the interest of public safety, the decision was made to dart and anesthetize the moose and move it to Fish Creek north of Carey. This scenario is an example of the responsibility that visitors and residents alike share in respecting the space of wild animals.

On Thursday, January 19, 2023, Fish and Game received a report of a cow moose directly underneath the Challenger ski lift on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain. The moose, which was reported to be in the area for several days, was repeatedly in close proximity to the ski area with hundreds of skiers coming very close to the animal. Fish and Game managers decided that the risk to people was increasing so they made the decision to dart and anesthetize the moose and move it to Fish Creek north of Carey. It is unknown if this was the cow moose involved in the attack on a Ketchum woman one week prior.

Beginning in mid-January the Magic Valley regional office began receiving reports of a moose in a neighborhood on the north end of Hailey. Local residents were concerned that the moose, that had charged a dog in a backyard, might be a public safety risk. Fish and Game officers monitored the situation and on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, after receiving reports of the moose becoming more agitated, regional wildlife staff made the decision to move the bull moose. The moose was darted and anesthetized and moved into the Bennett Mountains north of Glenns Ferry.

The increase in human-wildlife conflicts with moose in the Wood River Valley may have several contributing factors.

Blaine County is home to a robust population of moose, which are commonly found in Valley communities, many of which are built within habitat favored by moose. Deep snow and cold temperatures can stress moose which rely on their stores of fat to carry them through the winter. Moose naturally attempt to avoid burning calories during winter months when food is scarce. Repeated encounters with people and dogs, especially those off leash, only compound an already stressed moose. If a moose becomes overly stressed it may trigger their fight-or-flight response, which may push the moose to fight.


Moose dies north of Ketchum after eating toxic yew plan

Yew continues to be found in Blaine County despite ordinances that prohibit the plant in many parts of the county.

Despite a 2016 Blaine County ordinance restricting the planting of noxious plants, including exotic yew, a bull moose was found dead in the backyard of a residence on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, after eating the toxic plant north of Ketchum. A field necropsy was conducted by a conservation officer who confirmed that the moose had consumed yew found in the backyard of the home. The officer also noted that he found the overall body condition of the moose, as measured by the amount of body fat, was good.

During the winter of 2021 – 2022 over 20 elk died as a result of eating ornamental yew throughout the Wood River Valley.

Several plant species are toxic to wildlife and pets, especially those in the yew family.

Residents should inspect the landscaping around their homes and remove all yew plants in an effort to keep wildlife and pets safe, especially during winter months when wildlife moves down into the historic winter range, now occupied by community neighborhoods and private residences.

Yew plants are evergreen, even in winter, which is thought to be the reason that reports of wildlife eating the plant seem to be more common during winter months.

Homeowners should completely remove any yew from their yards. If removal is not possible until spring, the bushes should be securely fenced so that wildlife cannot get access to the plants, or the plants should be tightly wrapped with burlap.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald landowners need to be aware of the types of vegetation they purchase and plant on their properties. “I realize that it’s hard to dig up mature landscaping but everyone needs to do the right thing for wildlife, and even to protect your pets, by removing plants like exotic yew. It takes a surprisingly small amount of yew to kill an elk, deer or moose, which are all species that residents can see throughout the valley, almost daily.”


Moose attacks and injures Ketchum woman

Fish and Game is thankful that the woman’s injuries were not life threatening.

On the evening of January 13, 2023, a resident of Ketchum received substantial injuries in her driveway area after a moose attack. The incident was preceded by an encounter between an unleashed small dog and the moose. When the homeowner attempted to intervene, the moose, which was approximately 20 feet away, charged the woman. The moose ran at the woman, hitting her in the head which reportedly knocked her unconscious for a brief time. It is unknown what happened immediately after the contact, but her injuries are consistent with a moose continuing the attack while the woman was on the ground.

While the attack occurred on Friday evening the incident was not reported to Idaho Fish and Game until Tuesday morning, January 17, 2023.

Timely reporting of attacks by aggressive moose or any other wildlife to Fish and Game is critically important. Having conservation officers and biologists responding immediately to an attack or aggressive wildlife incident, greatly increases our ability to safely provide a service of protecting the public from additional wildlife incidents.

Attacks should be reported immediately by calling 911.

If a moose displays signs of aggression towards people or pets please call the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359 during normal business hours. After hours reports can be made to Blaine County Dispatch non-emergency line at (208) 788-5555.

Regional staff are attempting to locate and relocate the moose to a more remote location. The challenge is that multiple moose have been reported in the Warm Springs neighborhood west of Ketchum.

Residents who live in areas where moose are common are strongly encouraged to be vigilant when they see a moose nearby. While moose may give the appearance of being slow and plodding, they can react incredibly fast when provoked, and cover distances in a matter of seconds.

If a person encounters a moose, they should closely watch the behavior of the moose, looking for signs of agitation or stress. If a moose lays its ears back or the hair on the back of the neck raises, that means it is stressed and could charge at any time. Moose will often snort or grunt or stomp their hooves when stressed or feeling threatened. If you see any of these behaviors the best course of action is to put something between you and the moose – like a tree or a vehicle, or, if it can be done safely, enter your house or vehicle.

Residents are strongly encouraged to keep these safety measures in mind when around moose:

  • Always keep your dog on a leash when wildlife is present.
  • Even if leashed, a moose may perceive a dog as a predator so avoiding an area when a moose is present may be the best and safest course of action for dog owners.
  • Never put yourself in a situation where you are between a cow and calf.
  • During the fall when males are in the rut, they can become very agitated and show aggression towards people and pets.

In winter, moose can become stressed due to extreme cold and deep snow while their food supplies are scarce, and their fat reserves are being depleted. Minimizing disturbances during the winter is critical to reduce stress to moose and other big game animals.

For more information about how to live safely with wildlife contact the Magic Valley Region at (208) 324-4359 or visit the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities website.

Castle Rocks State Park Fishing Pond to close to remove illegally introduced goldfish

Goldfish illegally introduced into Castle Rock State Park Pond requires Fish and Game to eradicate all fish from the pond

Castle Rocks State Park Fishing Pond will be closed to public access beginning January 20, 2023. It’s anticipated to reopen to the public in early May 2023. The closure will allow fisheries biologists from the Magic Valley Region to apply a substance that will kill all fish in the pond.

Illegally introduced goldfish in Heagle Park Pond in Hailey are eradicated using rotenone in 2020

The project is a collaboration between Castle Rocks State Park and Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Magic Valley Region. Fish and Game staff will apply rotenone to Castle Rocks Fishing Pond to remove illegally introduced goldfish. Rotenone is a plant-derived fish toxicant that is widely used for fish control projects throughout the United States. All public access to the project area will be restricted during the closure period. Hatchery fish stocking of Castle Rocks Pond will resume following the completion of the project.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to close public access to the Castle Rocks State Park fishing pond, but it’s necessary since goldfish were illegally introduced there” commented Tucker Brauer, Regional Fishery Biologist with the Magic Valley Region, “This is our only recourse to re-set the pond to support sport-fish that anglers love to catch.”

Illegally introduced fish can cause serious damage to natural ecosystems and are extremely difficult to remove once established. Idaho Department of Fish and Game would like to remind the public that individuals illegally transplanting fish where they don’t belong can be held legally responsible for the financial costs to restore the fishery to its prior condition. These restoration related costs can total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The act of introducing fish into another waterbody can also result in a felony charge. It is everyone’s responsibility to help keep Idaho’s waterways free from invasive species.

If you have questions regarding this project, please contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324 – 4359