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Blaine County Considering Ordinance Banning Feeding Famished Wildlife

Keith Kohl
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP

Blaine County is attempting to address an issue that plagued the Wood River Valley last winter: feeding elk. County commissioners are looking into an ordinance revising the county's position on private citizens giving food to big game.

Across the Wood River Valley, some 70 subdivisions prohibit feeding wildlife, but pockets of Blaine County have no rules regarding the practice.

In the blistering cold of last winter, residents of one subdivision – Golden Eagle Ranch – fed elk in their backyards they said were trapped and starving due to the harsh conditions. Community members fed the elk for six weeks, which was against the rules of the development. According to the Idaho Mountain Express, Blaine County sued to enforce the policy and the matter is still making its way through the courts.

Tim Graves, the Blaine County Attorney, presented a draft ordinance to the county commissioners that would ban big game feeding in almost all of the county and make it a misdemeanor to do so. Graves' proposal does allow a small loophole for feeding wildlife in an emergency but how and when it would be sanctioned are lingering questions.

Last winter, Idaho Fish and Game, the agency charged with monitoring the state’s wildlife, set up 27 elk feeding stations across Blaine County. None were in the bounds of subdivisions on the valley floor.

As winter approaches, county commissioners are expected to further discuss big game feeding and revise the draft ordinance.

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