Idaho Fish and Game and its winter feeding advisory committees continue to monitor conditions in light of snowstorms, and through late February, there was still no need for large-scale, emergency winter feeding.
The latest batch of snowstorms to come through Idaho have pushed the snowpack for nearly all of the state’s drainages above their respective averages, according to the National Resources Conservation Service. At the end of February, snowpack ranged from 91 to 153 percent of average, with a majority of drainages running between 110 and 130 percent.
Despite above-average snowpack for this time of year, Fish and Game wildlife managers remain optimistic that they will not need to declare a winter feeding emergency in any of the state’s regions in the 2018-19 winter.
“We’re in March,” said Jon Rachael, the Fish and Game’s state wildlife manager. “People should be aware that it is pretty late in the winter right now, and it’s not the same as it would’ve been if we had this snow in December and throughout the winter – like we did in 2016-17.”
Despite the optimism, Rachael said that Fish and Game regional staff and regional winter feeding advisory committees would remain vigilant.
“We will continue monitoring this closely because things can change rather quickly,” Rachael said. “But none of the regional advisory committees or department officials are talking about winter feeding for the purpose of nutrition at this time.”
Winter feeding is typically done under emergency conditions only. In most years, snow depths and temperatures do not create adverse conditions for wintering animals. Deer, elk, pronghorn and other wildlife are adapted to Idaho’s climate and can withstand most winter weather conditions.
However, there are times when unusual weather patterns create critical periods when winter forage