Idaho Fish and Game will shut down public access to the eastern Boise Foothills on Friday to protect wintering big-game animals. The closure will remain in place indefinitely.
The closure affects the Boise Front segment of the Boise River Wildlife Management Area (see map in the photo viewer above, or try this one). It includes the Homestead, Cobb, Highland Valley and Lucky Peak trails.
The closure “eliminates a source of stress for big-game animals already dealing with abundant snow and low temperatures on the BRWMA,” according to the Fish and Game press release.
“Providing secure areas for these animals to weather the storms, without additional stress from human disturbance, can improve their chances to survive the winter,” Fish and Game habitat manager Zach Swearingen said in the release.
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The BRWMA protects critical winter range in the Boise Foothills. Mule deer and elk migrate from the Sawtooth Mountains into the BRWMA. As many as 7,000 mule deer use the land during the winter.
A dozen elk showed up in Harris Ranch nearly two weeks ago. Deer are common in the area year-round.
In other wildlife news: