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Fish and Game rescue elk from entanglements, window well

“We get these calls every year, especially in the winter when elk are moving through yards and pastures."

HAILEY, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game responded to four separate instances of elk getting tangled up in objects or falling into window wells in the Wood River Valley this weekend. 

On Jan. 7, Fish and Game officers were contacted about a cow elk with some sort of disk around her neck, a bull elk with twine wrapped around his antlers, and a third who had become tangled in a horse lead and halter. 

Biologists were able to tranquilize and free the elk caught in the halter, but the female elk slipped away and into the herd before biologists could get close. Fish and Game will continue monitoring her over the coming weeks, the department said. 

Since the elk with twine on its antler was not in any danger, officials said, no action was taken.

The fourth incident came when a cow elk fell into the window well of a home in Hailey. The well was too deep for the animal to get out on her own, so three Fish and Game officers worked with the homeowner to free her.

Credit: IDFG

The rescue attempt was ultimately successful, officials said.

“These entanglement calls are a reminder to all Valley residents to make sure that they wildlife-proof their homes and barns so that wildlife doesn’t get tangled in household or livestock equipment, and, homeowners should cover their window wells to help keep wildlife out of the deep wells,” said Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd. “We get these calls every year, especially in the winter when elk are moving through yards and pastures. Wildlife can easily get entangled in this equipment which puts the animal at risk, but it also puts the Fish and Game team at risk when using drugs to anesthetize the animal and working to free them.”

These issues with elk are not uncommon: In previous years, elk have had to be rescued after getting caught in hammocks, backyard swings, and other objects. Residents are urged to look around their yards and barns and put away items that could pose a hazard to big game, especially things like ropes, wires, strings of lights, or cords that could snag an animal's antlers.

A deer, elk, or moose who gets tangled up in these objects can die from exhaustion, asphyxiate, or hurt themselves in the struggle to get loose. Covering window wells can also help keep area big game from falling in.

For more information about how to keep the area around your home safe for wildlife visit the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities website at www.wrvsmartcommunities.org or contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.

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