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Washington State Elk Herd Plan: North Rainier Elk Herd

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: March 2002

Number of Pages: 66

Author(s): Rocky Spencer

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The North Rainier Elk Herd is one of ten herds residing in the State. The elk herd range is north of Mt. Rainier, including Pierce and King counties. The core elk distribution is on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range. Small satellite populations occur in the foothills and pockets of habitat near urban and suburban developments. It is an important resource that provides significant recreational, subsistence, cultural, aesthetic and economic benefits to Washington citizens and is a valued cultural, subsistence, and ceremonial resource to the Native American people of the area.

This plan's purpose is to provide direction for managing the North Rainier elk resource into the future. This is a five-year plan subject to amendment. Before the fifth year, this plan should be updated, reevaluated, amended and implemented for another 5-year period. It will be a valuable reference document and guideline for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tribes, agency cooperators, landowners, and the general public. Priority management activities will be implemented as funding and resources become available.

Three primary goals guide the North Rainier Elk Herd Plan: (1) to manage the elk herd for a sustained yield; (2) to manage elk for a variety of recreational, educational, and aesthetic purposes including hunting, scientific study, cultural and ceremonial uses by Native Americans, wildlife viewing and photography; and (3) to manage and enhance elk and their habitats to ensure healthy, productive populations.

Specific elk herd and habitat management, objectives, problems, and strategies are identified in this plan. Priority objectives address specific problems in managing this elk herd, and a variety of strategies have been developed to solve these problems. The following objectives have been identified:

  • Improve the collection of accurate scientific data to better manage this elk herd.
  • Increase elk population numbers in the following units:
    • Snoqualmie (GMU 460), from 175 to 500 elk
    • Green River (GMU 485), from 150 to 500 elk
    • White River (GMU 653), from 600 to 900 elk, with fall index flights in Mt. Rainier National Park approaching 600 to 700 elk.
  • Manage the North Rainier elk herd to ensure harvest does not exceed recruitment.
  • Provide hunting opportunities while managing the herd for minimum post-season bull ratio that are consistent with statewide management plan objectives, currently 12 bulls per 100 cows.
  • Provide for harvest opportunities of black bear and cougar consistent with population management objectives.
  • Recognize and promote viewing and photographic opportunities that this elk herd provides.
  • Work cooperatively with the Tribes to implement the North Rainier Elk Herd Plan.
  • Develop partnership opportunities to increase the availability, quantity, and quality of elk habitat on important sites.

Spending priorities have been identified for the next five years. Achieving spending levels will be contingent upon available funds and the creation of partnerships. The recommended priority expenditures for the North Rainier elk herd are as follows:

Prioritized Expenditures 1st year 5 years
Population estimation using mark recapture surveys at three to five year intervals (cost-share with Tribes).
$17,600.00
$52,800.00
Herd composition surveys (cost-share with Tribes).
$11,500.00
$57,500.00
Monitor harvest and collect age data.
$10,000.00
$50,000.00
Habitat enhancement on primary winter and summer ranges.
$10,000.00
$50,000.00
Elk augmentation to the North Rainier herd area. (cost share with tribes)
$48,400.00
$96,800.00
Elk research needs. (cost share with tribes)
$20,000.00
$100,000.00
TOTAL
$117,500.00
$407,100.00