YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will implement annual winter closures for sections of the Oak Creek, L.T. Murray, and Wenas wildlife areas starting 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 15 through 6 a.m. on May 1 to protect wintering elk from disturbance.
During winter and spring, elk are concentrated in large numbers near winter feed sites and on their winter range. Human disturbance can cause unnecessary stress on elk during their winter recovery period, which can result in increased damage to neighboring agricultural areas and costly repairs to elk fencing. Trespassers caught within a closed area may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Oak Creek Wildlife Area closures
- Headquarters Unit: The Cleman Mountain/Sanford Pasture area and Oak Creek Road (USFS 1400) will be closed to motorized vehicles but remain open to walk-in access. Large portions of upland range will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps.
- Cowiche Unit: The unit is closed to public entry south of Cowiche Mill Road as shown on Green Dot maps.
L.T. Murray Wildlife Area closures
- L.T. Murray Unit: Areas surrounding the Joe Watt and Robinson feed sites will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps.
- Whiskey Dick Unit: A motorized vehicle closure will be in effect from Feb. 1 through May 1 that extends from the Vantage Hwy north up to the Quilomene Ridge Road as shown on Green Dot maps. There are no changes to this existing closure.
Wenas Wildlife Area closures
- Wenas Wildlife Area: Areas surrounding the Mellotte feed site will be closed to all public entry as shown on Green Dot maps.
A large area of the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area in southeast Washington’s Asotin County is also closing for the winter to protect elk that lost habitat to the Lick Creek wildfire this summer, as well as to protect private crops from elk feeding on them. For more details about this closure, read the news release.
WDFW manages more than a million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas throughout the state. By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the Department serves as stewards for Washington’s natural places, protecting the state’s land and water for its human and wildlife populations.