An appeal issued two weeks ago to help feed a group of elk searching for food in the foothills east of Millville has prompted an outpouring of donations from Vernal to Idaho.

Jackie Hancey, who has been feeding the elk since Thanksgiving, said Saturday more than 20 tons of hay and nearly $900 in donations have come in since she announced that a barn used to hold feed for more than 500 wintering elk was almost empty.The barn was built by the Cache Valley Wildlife Federation in 1984 during a severe winter that compelled local volunteers to implement a deer and elk feeding program.

Hancey, whose husband, Owen, belongs to the federation, said the donations range from $1 to $100 and have enabled the Wildlife Federation to purchase and haul more hay to the animals.

"Soon after the appeal got out, more than eight tons of hay donated by several local farmers was delivered here - a pickup load at a time - and it was fed to the elk as soon as it arrived," she said. "It takes about a ton each day to feed the elk a minimum ration."

On Wednesday, 15 tons of hay donated by Chevron Resources of Vernal was trucked to Millville during a severe snowstorm.

General manager R.D. Haddenham said he learned of the need for the hay and decided to donate a truckload. He said land on the company's Vernal potash mine winters about 200 elk each year, and hay is cut and stored to feed them in case they get in trouble.

"We heard there were 500 hungry elk over there in trouble, and we have a lot of empathy for them," he said.

Hancey said an Idaho sympathizer has agreed to sell hay for $20 a ton, providing it is fed to the elk. With hay selling for as much as $120 a ton this year, she said, the federation welcomes the offer.

"We're not out of the woods yet," she added, "because what we have now will last only about two weeks and the elk will have to be fed longer if winter weather continues."