The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
is accepting public comments through Sept. 15 on a draft plan for future
management of the Blue Mountains elk herd in southeastern Washington.
The draft plan for the herd is posted on
WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02010/
State wildlife managers will also accept
comments on the draft plan at two public meetings at the end of August. Those
meetings are set for:
-- Aug. 29, 6-8 p.m.: CenterPlace, 2426 N.
Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA. Room 109.
-- Aug. 30, 6-8 p.m.: Dayton Memorial Library,
111 S. Third St, Dayton, WA, Delany Room.
Written comments can be submitted online to
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BlueMtns or mailed to Blue Mountains Elk Herd
Plan, Wildlife Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2315 North
Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566.
One of 10 elk herds in Washington state, the
Blue Mountains herd is located in Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Walla Walla
counties. The herd is known for its high proportion of large, mature elk and is
currently estimated to number 4,250 to 4,700 animals.
Paul Wik, a WDFW district wildlife biologist,
said the herd has experienced significant habitat changes, and has a history of
conflict on agricultural lands.
“Conditions have changed since the last herd
management plan was adopted 2001, requiring an update in our management priorities
and direction,” Wik said.
The new draft plan includes several strategies
to address those and other management issues.
Key goals of the proposed plan include:
-- Reducing elk/human conflicts, including
minimizing elk damage on private property;
-- Offering sustainable hunting opportunities,
including general season and permit hunts; and
-- Coordinating and cooperating with the Nez
Perce Tribe and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation on herd
WDFW will consider comments received online,
and during the public meetings in drafting the final version of the plan.