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Nearly 75 percent of Idaho’s Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area burned in a wildfire in August. The refuge is set aside as winter range for big game. As predicted, thousands of wild elk showed up just as the black landscape turned white with snow.

To keep elk from highways and haystacks, Idaho Department of Fish and Game started the largest emergency feeding operation in the state’s history at a cost of $350,000.

“Once we start a feeding site, we are committed to continuing to feed there until the animals start to disperse,” said Craig White, Idaho Department of Fish and Game state deer and elk coordinator. “That can occur before official spring if hillsides open up and the animals start to forage on natural vegetation.”

That hasn’t happened yet, so more than 3,500 elk are still at the refuge. They keep their distance until the tractor shows up with their daily dose of 15 tons of hay. Watch the herd migrate in for a meal in this time-lapse video.

 

Kris Millgate is an outdoor journalist based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. See more of her work at tightlinemedia.com.