The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game are asking the recreationists to stay out of areas where wildlife are wintering, particularly in the East Hailey and Quigley Canyon areas. This year’s deep snow and cold temperatures are creating a particularly stressful time for wildlife in the Wood River Valley. When deer, elk, and other wildlife has to move, stop feeding or get up from their beds, the animals use precious energy they cannot spare. The Fish and Game Dept. has begun setting up feeding stations, but many of these animals are in survival mode.
“We realize that these are very popular areas for recreation, but we are asking the public’s assistance and cooperation for the sake of the animals. If you encounter wildlife, please be respectful, turn around and go elsewhere, said Sheriff Steve Harkins. It is very important to keep your dogs on leash. Unfortunately, even well trained dogs find chasing wildlife hard to resist.
Both Blaine County Code and Idaho State Code have provisions for charging individuals with dogs who harass wildlife. Depending on the circumstances you could be cited for a state infraction or county misdemeanor. Idaho Code 36-1101(b)7(B) makes it an infraction to “Own, possess or harbor any dog found running loose and which is tracking, pursuing, harassing or attacking a big game animal.” Idaho Infractions are subject to a $72.00 fine. Blaine County Code 4-4-2 provides for a misdemeanor charge for dogs at large. Misdemeanors require a court appearance and may be subject up to a $257.50 fine and/or six months in jail.
“It is not our intent to start writing a lot of citations. We are hoping that the public will use good judgment by not disturbing wintering animals who are struggling for the sake of recreation,” said Harkins. We all enjoy a wonderful quality of life in Blaine County. “We hope everyone will cooperate for the sake of our wildlife.”
Sheriff Steve M. Harkins
End. Photo Credit: Lacie Thompson