OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has raised $15,032 for winter elk feeding at its first auction of shed elk antlers at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima County.
About 1,275 pounds of antlers were sold at the May 2 auction, attended by about 150 people. Most of the shed antlers were picked up by WDFW staff and volunteers from the Oak Creek winter feeding stations over the last several years; some came from other areas of the state.
The highest single sale of $550 was made on a set of eight-point elk antlers from the Hanford area.
The auction was conducted with the help of WDFW staff, Wildlife Education Corps volunteers and a professional auctioneer from Tieton.
John McGowan, WDFW Oak Creek manager, said the funds raised will cover about 18 percent of the hay cost for an average, 80-day, winter elk feeding season.
About 3,500 to 4,000 elk are fed each winter at several sites on the 47,200-acre wildlife area. Oak Creek was originally purchased in 1943 to provide a home for the growing Yakima elk herd seeking food in nearby agricultural areas. Winter feeding began about 1968 to keep elk on the public land and avoid damage complaints and payments.
More than 100,000 visitors to Oak Creek view the elk at the headquarters feeding site each winter.
WDFW may conduct more antler auctions at 3-to-5-year intervals as more shed antlers are collected from winter feeding sites.