WDFW to close sections of wildlife areas in Kittitas and Yakima counties to protect wintering elk starting Dec. 15

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Ross Huffman, 509-457-9313
Rachel Blomker, 360-701-3101

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Each winter, hundreds of elk gather at wildlife area feeding stations. This feeding program prevents damage to nearby agricultural and private lands. 
Hunter Ventoza

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.

WDFW’s seasonal closures are shown in detail on Green Dot maps. People can download their own maps to print or use on a smartphone.

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

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.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.