HAILEY, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho homeowner recently woke up to find an elk in the basement -- just one in a string of problems caused by the animals searching for food in populated valleys.
"This time of year, animals are moving down to populated valleys where they traditionally would have fed," said Kelton Hatch, a regional conservation education for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The high snow levels are causing more animals to come into the Hailey area than usual, reported The Times-News (http://bit.ly/1Otx21j ).
It took a lot of coaxing, but Blaine County sheriff's deputies and wildlife officials were able to get the confused elk cow out of the basement.
"It took us about 2 ½ hours, but we got her out uninjured," said Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Alex Head in a statement. "The basement will need a good, deep cleaning, but we are glad it worked out as well as it did."
Head said the elk fell in a basement window well and crashed through the window. Officers used mattresses as shields and prodded the elk toward the stairs.
"They finally get her cornered and moving in the right direction," Hatch said. "She ran up the stairway and out the door."
Just hours before the Hailey homeowner discovered the animal, 10 elk found their way into the Hailey Cemetery and died from eating the toxic Japanese yew. Idaho Fish and Game officers disposed of the carcasses and city maintenance workers began removing the plant from cemetery grounds.
Hatch said there have also been several vehicle versus animal crashes in recent weeks. Elk often survive the initial crash but die later from internal injuries, he said, urging drivers to be cautious at dusk and dawn.
Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com