OLYMPIA – The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on a proposal to relocate elk that are destroying crops and posing an increasing safety risk in the fast-growing Sequim area.
A public open house on the issue has been scheduled Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in Sequim by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe, which cooperatively manage the Dungeness Elk Herd.
At 7 p.m., following the informational open house, the co-managers will host a public meeting on a proposal to re-locate elk congregating on the north side of U.S. Highway 101 within a few miles of the Sequim city limits.
Both events will take place at the Guy Cole Center at Carrie Blake Park, 202 Blake Ave., in Sequim.
During much of the year, as many as 70 elk can be seen browsing on agricultural crops north of U.S. Highway 101, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager.
“We’ve tried everything from herding the animals away from town and putting up fences to liberalizing hunting seasons,” Ware said. “Nothing has really corrected the situation.”
The proposal to relocate elk north of U.S. Highway 101 was developed during the past year by the Dungeness Elk Working Team, composed of representatives from WDFW, the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe; city, county and federal agencies; and other organizations with an interest in the herd.
The working team evaluated a variety of options – ranging from maintaining the status quo to lethal removal – and ultimately recommended re-location as the preferred alternative.
Under that option, elk found north of U.S. Highway 101 would be relocated to the Wynoochee River valley on the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula. To help maintain the herd on the north end of the Peninsula, an equal number of elk would be relocated from the Wynoochee River valley to the Snow and Salmon creek drainage areas.
“If we just moved the elk north of Highway 101 to the area around Snow and Salmon creeks, they would very likely make their way back to the Sequim area in no time,” Ware said. “But animals brought in from another area are a lot less likely to find their way to the agricultural lands around Sequim.”
If wildlife managers decide to proceed with the plan, the re-location effort will likely occur in early 2008, Ware said.