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Washington State Elk Herd Plan: Yakima Elk Herd

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: December 2002

Number of Pages: 77

Author(s): Jeff Bernatowicz and George Tsukamoto

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The Yakima Elk Herd is one of the largest of ten herds identified in the State. It is an important resource that provides significant recreational, aesthetic and economic benefit to Washington citizens. The purpose of this plan is to provide direction for the management of the Yakima elk resource for the next 5 years. The plan is subject to amendment. Priority management activities will be implemented as funding and resources become available.

There are three primary goals stated in the Yakima Elk Herd Plan;

  • to preserve, protect, perpetuate, manage and enhance elk and their habitats to ensure healthy, productive populations and ecosystem integrity;
  • to manage elk for a variety of recreational, educational and aesthetic purposes including hunting, scientific study, cultural, subsistence, and ceremonial uses by Native Americans, wildlife viewing and photography; and
  • to manage the elk herd for a sustained yield.

Specific elk herd and habitat management goals, objectives, problems and strategies have been stated in the plan. These are priority objectives identified to address specific problems in elk management. To accomplish each objective a variety of strategies have been developed. The following objectives have been identified:

  • Reduce and then maintain the post-hunting season elk population at 9,500 animals for the Cascade slope portion of the Yakima Herd.
  • Reduce and maintain the Arid Lands Ecology Reserve population in the Rattlesnake Hills at a population level that minimizes damage to private lands (estimated <350 elk).
  • Improve the scientific basis for managing the elk population.
  • Manage for a post hunting season bull ratio consistent with the Statewide Plan (currently equal to or greater than 12 bulls/100 cows in combination with overall bull mortality of less than 50 percent).
  • Minimize damage caused by elk through aggressive removals of elk below the elk fence and improve Department/ landowner relations.
  • Maintain an effective and efficient elk winter-feeding program.
  • Share elk population data with the Yakama Indian Nation, The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Medicine Creek Treaty Tribes.
  • Increase public awareness and viewing opportunities of elk.
  • Cooperate with the U. S. Fish Wildlife Service and U. S. Department of Energy in the management of elk on the Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, and with the U. S. Army on the Yakima Training Center.
  • Cooperate and coordinate to improve elk habitat quality and effectiveness on National Forest and Washington Department of Natural Resources lands.
  • Improve elk habitat quality and effectiveness on private lands with willing cooperators.
  • Secure more critical elk habitat.

Spending priorities have been identified for the first year and next 5 years. Achieving spending levels will be contingent upon availability of funds and creation of partnerships. The recommended annual priority expenditures for the Yakima herd are as follows:

Priority
First year cost
Five year cost
1. Winter elk feeding
$126,000.00
$606,000.00
2. Herd population/composition surveys
$14,000.00
$70,000.00
3. Improve collection of hunter harvest and effort information.
$26,000.00
$130,000.00
4. Elk Habitat Study
$150,000.00
$600,000.00
5. Elk fence construction.
$500,000.00
$700,000.00
6. Address landowner/elk conflicts.
$90,160.00
$453,820.00
7. Habitat preservation program.
$200,000.00
$1,000,000.00
8. Road management
$16,000.00
$80,000.00
9. Elk habitat improvement
$40,000.00
$200,000.00
TOTAL
$1,162,160.00
$3,839,820.00