ELMORE COUNTY -- Ranchers between Mountain Home and Boise are turning to the legislature for help. They say over the past several years, the elk population in the area around Mayfield has grown, and caused a growing number of headaches.
"We get them at the Stage Stop, because I work right over here," said Michael Hovey, who has been working at the Stage Stop for a year and just moved to the area. "And we have to run them off the property every once in a while because they just get into everything, including the trash."
Hovey said the elk are a problem at work, and he has heard about the issues they cause for ranchers.
The Lord's Ranch has been in the Lord family for generations.
"When my husband and I first got married, we had probably five or six bulls that hung out in the chopped hay stacks and were really cool, we loved seeing them. And now in the last few years there's been in the thousands," said Deb Lord.
She said back in the 1980s they only saw a few elk, but over the last 10 years, the number of elk increased.
Lord said the elk eat the rangeland, which is already limited after fire season. Since their cattle can't go out on the range every day, they have to spend money on hay. They also put up barriers around their hay bales to keep the elk out of their hay, but when it gets too snowy, the Lords have seen elk knock them down. The herds can even knock down fencing, which has to be repaired before cattle can be put out to pasture.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game have offered some help.
"They allow us to have some depredation hunting, kinda try to disperse them away from our private ground," said Lord. "They also have depredation funds that they will allow us to use, but you have to prove how much they've eaten, which is really difficult to do."
The Lords and other ranchers want the state to do more.
"Right now, they're putting together a new elk plan and it's calling for increased or maintaining the herds throughout the entire state,and we think there are some areas that they need to decrease the herds," said Lord.
One proposed solution was to move the elk herds to the backcountry, where wolves have reduced the elk numbers drastically.