LONGVIEW - A public open house will be held here Aug. 19 to offer citizens updated information on plans to move some 50 elk from the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area to the North Cascades.
The meeting will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Public Utilities District headquarters, 961 12th Ave., in Longview.
During the meeting, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff and tribal representatives will offer updated information on the elk relocation, which is planned for early October.
Under the proposed relocation, wildlife biologists will capture 40 to 50 elk from the Mount St. Helens site and transport them to several release sites along the South Fork of the Nooksack River. Plans call for relocating a similar number of elk next year.
The relocation is proposed as a means of augmenting the North Cascades elk herd, which has dwindled from 1,700 animals in the early 1980s to about 300 elk currently, making it the smallest of the state's 10 elk herds. The state's management plan for the North Cascades herd sets a population objective of 1,950 animals. The herd management plan, completed in March 2002, can be viewed on the Internet.
Supplementing the North Cascades herd could bring the elk population there back to harvestable levels in as few as five years, as opposed to the 20 or more years that would be required without augmentation, according to wildlife biologists.
To help the herd rebuild, state and tribal cooperators eliminated hunting in the mid-1990s in some areas, including the sites where the elk would be released. Although loss of habitat has taken a toll on the herd population, habitat restoration and enhancement efforts in recent years by state, tribal and private entities have improved conditions for the elk.
Click here for additional information on the Mount St. Helens-North Cascades elk transfer