OLYMPIA – A grassy area along the west bank of the Columbia River near Wenatchee will be closed to hunters – and everyone else – to protect a group of about 200 elk feeding there, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Under an emergency action approved today, the area known as West Bar will be off limits to hunters and other visitors from Wednesday (Oct. 26) through Nov. 15.
Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager, said the area will be closed to protect both the elk and valuable crop lands on the other side of the Columbia River in Grant County.
"We've had situations in the past where the elk stampeded and swam across the river to get away from hunters and other people," Ware said. "When that happens, they can do a lot of damage to themselves and the crops on the other side."
With elk hunting season scheduled to begin Saturday (Oct. 28), Ware said wildlife managers decided that closing the area was the best course of action. The closed area, which is in the Quilomene game management unit (GMU 329), will be marked using yellow signs with black lettering.
Ware said the elk congregating on West Bar are part of the 4,500-member Clockum herd, drawn to West Bar by the green grass that has sprouted there in the aftermath of a summer fire and recent rain.
"This situation raises concerns about crop damage and public safety, not to mention the image of hunters in our state," Ware said. "All things considered, West Bar is just not an appropriate place for hunting or other human activities right now."
West Bar, which is owned and managed by WDFW, is located midway between Wenatchee and Vantage in Kittitas County.