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Elk herd moved near Fort Hall

FORT HALL, Idaho (KIFI)- On Sunday, Shoshone Bannock authorities moved an elk herd to the west side of Interstate 15.

This was a joint effort from many agencies at the state level and Shoshone Bannock tribes. "We had Idaho State Police, Idaho, Fish and Game, and the Idaho Transportation Department. We also had folks on the tribal side from our Fish and Wildlife Department, our Fish and Game Department, the fire department, and our Transportation Department. So everybody pulled together in the best possible way," said Tom Wadsworth with the Shoshone Bannock Fish and Game department.

Wadsworth adds that the elk herd even needed a little convincing that it was time to move on to greener pastures. "Our hardest component was the elk. They did get nervous, but it took a little bit. But then they cooperated with us."

Part of how they convinced the elk it was time to move on was with a helicopter and the copter's pilot was trained in air-to-wildlife interactions. "That pilot did an exceptional job in getting those elk pushed across. You didn't hurry them, you know, kind of let them go at their own pace once they got to the fence line. And that's important for the herd, that keeping the stress levels down. But our pilot that we had specializes in working around wildlife."

The Idaho State Police had a rolling roadblock from milepost 73 to milepost 84 on the I-15 corridor. "We had two herds, one south of exit 80. That herd was about 150. We worked on it first. They went over fairly smoothly. We had a second herd that was north of Exit 80. That herd was about 389 animals and it took us a little bit longer just because of the herd size. But everything was pretty successful. We got everything pushed to the east side," Wadsworth said.

Although there is the possibility that the elk herd can still come back across officials believe that will not be the case. "I believe that they're going to go ahead and stick where they're at. Our office will be monitoring them to make sure that they do stay back. But given that we are getting warmer temperatures, things will start to open up for them and hopefully, they'll be able to move back. They will be starting calving within another month or so. And I think that was another reason for them to want to push across. But God willing, everything will be good for this year," Wadsworth said.  

The operation proved successful and the elk safely crossed the interstate.

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Braydon Wilson


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