Idaho's Upper Snake River Wildlife Management Areas

Some of Idaho's most serene and scenic destinations may be found within the Upper Snake River Wildlife Management designated areas. Whether on the hunt, out to fish, enjoy the photography opportunities, or perhaps take delight in taking to the trails, there is a host of activity options to choose from at each of the various wildlife management areas of the Upper Snake Region of Southeast Idaho. Some of the most common outdoor activities in Idaho may be found at the WMAs. Merely heading out to find the ideal destination for decompressing from the everyday norm while surrounded by nature is also an excellent reason to check out an Idaho WMA. Undoubtedly, there is something for everyone at one of Southern Idaho's truly magnificent wildlife management areas to discover and enjoy! South Eastern Idaho's uniquely attractive and distinct wildlife management areas are open to the public, and all are welcome.

Discover wildlife you may not have known existed within minutes. Southern Idaho's Wildlife Management Area plays a crucial role as wintering ranges for wildlife visiting the area. There is something to be said about Idaho's WMA as there is no place like these locations for experiencing wildlife up close and to a significant degree as the areas are commonly populated with a host of varying species. Bring a picnic basket packed with the extras (pack in and pack out - no trash left behind), all-season clothes as the weather has a way of changing quickly in Idaho, and preferred gear for a fun day out at the WMA!

The wildlife management areas offer something for everyone to enjoy, with a variety of outdoor activity opportunities while surrounded by nature. The WMA often acts as a critical natural resource for wintering wildlife; without these areas, the animals would have no other place to go. While the staff at the WMA's are focused on maintaining each of these areas and keeping track of visiting wildlife, the Department of Fish and Game assist in studying the habits and habitats that play such a significant role in the success of the migration cycle of the creatures that utilize these areas. The staff at the WMA's are also responsible for tracking habitat trends, big game use, species diversity, public use, waterfowl nest structure use, duck nesting information, and noxious weed control.

Often it would require a significant time investment and traveling to far off places to experience some of all the wildlife that visits the wma's for forge and refuge from Idaho's erratic weather patterns. Having the opportunity to head out for a day to one of the many wma's is a unique chance at the possibility of getting up close to the wildlife while maintaining a reasonable distance for the safety of all. There is no other place like Idaho's wma's!

The Upper Snake region of Southeast Idaho boasts a few WMA's that include the Cartier Slough WMA, Deer Parks Wildlife Mitigation Units, Market Lake WMA, Sand Creek WMA, as well as Tex Creek WMA.

Cartier Slough WMA

Location: Madison County, Idaho.

Habitat: Find Grassland, Sagebrush, Sloughs, Riparian, and Wetlands.

Open: Due to snow accumulation in the winter, sections of the WMA are closed for use, and other portions of the slough remain open year-round.

Purpose: Habitat for Shorebirds, Waterbirds, and Waterfowl. Activities: Camping (primitive), Fishing, Biking, Camping, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Trapping, Canoeing, and Wildlife Viewing. How about Education, Skiing, Boating, and Dog Training for a few extras.

Features: Established in 1976, the 961 - 1,026 +/- acre wildlife management area features over 100 bird species that utilize the WMA, whether for breeding or call this area home. A couple of miles of riverbank combined with a few miles of slough canal makes this area a prime choice for a great deal of birdlife.

Located on the west side of Henry's Fork of the Snake River, the majestic Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area is a beautiful wetland habitat covered in dense tree life that makes for a great location ideal for bird watching. Some of the more common bird species that may be found here on occasion include the Great Blue Heron, Snow Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Bald Eagle, Canadian Geese, and Pheasants.

The plants within this area make for excellent foraging, which in return makes the WMA a popular destination among wildlife, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, and the occasional bull moose. That is just the beginning. While you're out, be sure to watch for and be aware that there are also chances for coming across weasels, mink, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, red squirrels, beavers, porcupines, as well as cute cottontail rabbits. If that was not enough, there is also the striped skunk. Okay, the skunk is likely a cute fellow from farther away. Additional animals in the area have been known to include raccoons, bats, river otters, red fox, mountain lion, marmot, chipmunks, various frogs, and the occasional snake. Who knew there would be so much opportunity for checking out such a vast selection of wildlife all in one place.

Taking to the trails for an afternoon stroll is one way to enjoy this area, while others might find enjoyment in bringing along the tackle box for a day of popularly revered Henry's Fork fishing. Fish at this location have been known to include Rainbow Trout, Sucker Fish, Cutthroat Trout, Mountain Whitefish, and the Utah Chub.

No matter the number of animal species at this location, there truly is no comparison when it comes to the vast assortment of birdlife subspecies that have been recorded within this area. The birds must enjoy the accommodations, including nest structures, goose platforms, and wood duck boxes, to name a few. The Common Loon, Horned Grebe, American Bittern, Snowy Egret, Tundra Swan, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Duck, and Ruddy Duck are just the start to all the birdlife that may be found here. Other birds that have been recorded as visiting or calling the Cartier Slough WMA home include the Red-Tailed Hawk, Osprey, American Coot, Ring-Necked Pheasant, Killdeer, Long-billed Curlew, American Avocet, Herring Gull, and the Mourning Dove. Try to keep up with all that may be found here as there is also the popular Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, Common Raven, Catbird, House Wren, Water Pipit, Bohemian Waxwing, Olive-Sided Flycatcher, and Western Wood Peewee, oh my! This birdlife list recorded at the Cartier Slough WMA is simply the beginning of the birdlife that may be found here.

Surrounding destinations include Beaver Dick Park and the city of Rexburg, Idaho.

Proximity to:

Rexburg 6 +/- miles

Idaho Falls 31 +/- miles

Pocatello 82 +/- miles

Market Lake WMA

Location: Jefferson County, Idaho.

Habitat: Check out Agriculture, Sagebrush Steppe, Open Water, and Wetlands.

Open: Year-Round.

Purpose: Breeding Habitat for Waterfowl, Wildlife Habitat & Wildlife Based Recreation.

Activities: Dogs (required to be on a leash Apr. 1st - July 31st), Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Viewing.

Features: Established in 1956, the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area has since evolved into an incredibly scenic destination that stretches across 5,409 +/-acres. Discovering the popular Market Lake Wildlife Management Area could easily be described as birds, birds, birds! Though the area is typical for additional wildlife species, this phenomenal location is almost always spotted in birdlife, making it an excellent location for birding. A few of the more common bird species that may be found in this area include snow geese and the white-faced ibis. Some birds are full-time residents while others stop in to visit; many enjoy taking advantage of the waterways' excellent fishing. Common fish found at this location have been known to include perch and the bullhead of the catfish family.

The Market Lake WMA is quite popular among those who enjoy upland hunting. There is a wildlife viewing blind at this location ideal for wildlife watching and observation. In fact, waterfowl hunting is one of the primary sports and outdoor activities at this WMA, as it is one of the only designated areas in this portion of the state that allows this type of hunting. There are also hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mule deer, moose, and elk. If considering a trip or day out of hunting at this location, be sure to check into Idaho's current season rules and guidelines for the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area before accessing this location. A few additional animals that one may come across at this location include the Pygmy Rabbit, Common Garter Snake, Northern Leopard Frog, or perhaps even the Idaho Pocket Gopher.

The Market Lake Wildlife Management Area has by far documented many more bird species that have visited or called this area home. Birds such as the Bald Eagle, the American White Pelican, and even the Great Egret. The Long-billed Curlew, the Northern Pintail, and the Prairie Falcon are no stranger to the area either.

The Market Lake Wildlife Management Area is located in Southeastern Idaho adjacent to the Snake River a few miles from I-15 in Jefferson County. There are several old tattered historic structures that blend well with the surroundings. The Market Lake Slough also calls this area home and complements the overall ecology of the encompassing ecosystem.

During the fall season, the gracious sprawled out prairie lands of the WMA area transition into a stunning yellow and gold canvas of tall reeds and area shrubs as the leaves begin to turn various shades of autumn colors.

Proximity to:

Rexburg 26 +/- miles

Idaho Falls 21 +/- miles

Pocatello 72 +/- miles

Sand Creek WMA

Location: Freemont County, Idaho

Habitat: Discover Wetlands, Semi-Arid Sagebrush Steppe, Riparian, and Douglas-Fir/Aspen Forests.

Open: A Winter Closure Map Applies to this Area.

Purpose: Wildlife Habitat & Winter Refuge for Migratory Elk, Moose, and Deer.

Activities: Photography, Birding, Boating, Camping, Hiking, and Horseback Riding, to name a few.

Features: Established in 1947 as only a mere 4,763 +/- acre parcel, the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area has grown substantially into consisting of several parcels of land with multiple ponds and sprawls out across approximately 32,489 +/- acres in total. The ponds consist of West Pond, Mallard Pond, Singleton Pond, and Backward Pond, naming only a few. Most of the land is covered in either dense grasses and shrubs or spotted by wetlands surrounded by riparian spaces.

The Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area also consists of several segments comprised of Slit Butte Segment, Chapman Segment, North Rick's Segment, South Rick's Segment, Chester Wetland Segment, and the Erin-Hamer (winter closures apply to this segment). Because the Sand Creek WMA grounds are known to have visitors that include black bears and grizzles, properly storing and disposing of food is required within the Sand Creek WMA.

The Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area is an ideal location for a fun-filled day packed full of photography opportunities. This is true, especially if waiting around for the ideal wildlife shot or for the ideal lighting across the landscapes is no big deal.

Proximity to:

Rexburg 19.1 +/- miles

Idaho Falls 44.6 +/- miles

Pocatello 95.4 +/- miles

Tex Creek WMA

Location: Bonneville County, Idaho

Habitat: At this location, there is sagebrush steppe, cropland, and woodlands, as well as aspen groves and grasslands.

Open: Seasonal, most areas are closed from Dec. 1 to April 15 to protect wintering wildlife. Check out the winter map for road closures.

Purpose: Wildlife Habitat & Winter Refuge for Migratory Elk, Mule Deer, and Moose. The Tex Creek WMA also places a significant role as a habitat for the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Dusky Grouse, as well as the Hungarian Partridge.

Activities: A few outdoor fun activities to consider in this area might include photography, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, birding, hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, camping, and exploring.

Features: Established in 1976, the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area now spans across 35,000 +/- acres of stunning Idaho land. The Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area is a favorite for many who enjoy heading out in this direction. Located within minutes of Idaho Falls, the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area makes for an excellent day trip. It offers a host of activity opportunities while out in some of the best nature-filled surroundings the area offers. The WMA is a seasonal location as the snow brings with it mule deer, elk, and moose who choose to winter at this location.

The Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area is known for wildlife visitors, including the grand elk. The wildlife management area has recorded numbers of visiting elk in the upper 3,000-4,000 range. That's a tremendous amount of elk. The staff does their best to keep the visitors out of the surrounding farmland and towns while keeping the visiting elk within WMA ground. The Tex Creek Wildlife Management staff provide a tremendous amount of effort to maintain the area and keep track of the animals and their young while rebuilding fences and natural plant life and grasses that may have been lost by fires.

Proximity to:

Rexburg 31.8 +/- miles

Idaho Falls 30.3 +/- miles

Pocatello 82.5 +/- miles

Sources:

https://idfg.idaho.gov/wma/cartier-slough

https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/cartier-slough-wildlife-management-area

https://idfg.idaho.gov/wma/market-lake

https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/market-lake-wildlife-management-area

https://idfg.idaho.gov/wma/sand-creek

https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/sand-creek-wildlife-management-area

https://idfg.idaho.gov/wma/tex-creek

https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/tex-creek-wildlife-management-area

https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas/cartier-slough-wildlife-management-area

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