Horror! What Killed These 33 Elk?

Written by Outdoor Beasts Staff on April 8, 2016


This is terrible.

Thirty-three elk died at an Idaho Department of Fish and Game feeding station in Warm Springs Canyon west of Ketchum this winter—11 killed by mountain lions and 22, mostly calves, that were trampled by other elk or starved after they were unable to get to the feed.

The department established its Bullwhacker feeding site in 1980 to encourage elk to remain up Warm Springs Creek and not move into residential areas of Ketchum.

Kelton Hatch, the department’s Magic Valley public affairs officer, said about 180 elk were at or near the site throughout the winter. The animals were fed pellets every few days until early spring, when they began to move onto areas where natural forage became exposed.

Outdoor Beasts Horror! What Killed These 33 Elk?

Hatch said necropsies done on four of the dead calves showed poor body condition and blunt-force trauma. None showed signs of disease.

He said feed sites inevitably attract predators.

“We’ve had mountain lions sleeping in the feed shed,” he said.

Hatch said this winter’s 18 percent mortality rate may be higher than some other winters due to the hefty snowpack, but it’s not too unusual.

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