OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a series of workshops this month for volunteers who would like to participate in a survey of the Olympic Peninsula elk herd this fall.
The annual survey, which will be conducted from Sept. 15 through Oct. 8, is designed to provide WDFW wildlife managers with an updated estimate of the herd's size, which has been declining in recent years.
Prospective volunteers should plan to attend one of the preparatory workshops offered by WDFW at the following locations:
- Clearwater: Scheduled Saturday (Aug. 26) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this workshop will prepare volunteers to use telemetry equipment to locate elk fitted with collars and transmitters. Participants in this survey should be prepared to contribute at least three or four days between Sept. 1 and Oct. 8.
- Sequim: Volunteers will learn to determine a herd's age and sex composition at a workshop scheduled Aug. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Carrie Blake Park.
- Montesano: This workshop, scheduled Aug. 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the WDFW regional office, will also focus on determining herd age and sex composition.
For the herd composition surveys, observations of elk made while scouting for hunting trips or while on photographic shoots can contribute to the information base that resource managers will use to rebuild the elk herd.
Anyone interested in attending one of the workshops and participating in the surveys should call Warren Michaelis (360-249-6523) or Jack Smith (360-249-1222) for more information.
"Last year was the first time we used volunteers to assist with this survey and they made a real contribution," said Smith, regional WDFW wildlife manager. "Our annual surveys are critical to our understanding of what is happening to this herd and we appreciate people's commitment to help out."
Smith said recent surveys have indicated that the Olympic elk herd's population has dropped between 30 percent and 40 percent from 10 years ago, when the herd numbered between 14,000 and 17,000 animals.
"We're working to bring the herd up close to previous levels and this survey is an important indication of how we're doing," Smith said.
The volunteer effort has received financial support from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Eyes In the Woods, and KBH archers.