Cindi Confer Morris, 509-697-4503
Rachel Blomker, 360-701-3101
YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has closed four vehicle and walk-through gates at the Wenas Wildlife Area in Yakima County to reduce the risk of damage to neighboring private properties and minimize disturbance to wintering elk.
Through as late as March 31, the elk fence gates at Ridge Road, Black Canyon, Hessler, and Kelly Hollow will be locked, limiting access to the south side of Umtanum Ridge. The public can still access Umtanum Ridge Road via Sheep Company and Durr Road, although snow-covered conditions can make driving difficult.
“The gates are key because it’s very challenging to get elk herded back onto public land if they get out onto nearby private property,” said Cindi Confer Morris, WDFW Wenas Wildlife Area manager. “There are many small private landowners along this section of elk fence, so this closure will benefit hundreds of elk as well as wildlife area neighbors.”
Morris said the dates of the closures may change depending on weather conditions, and the walk-through gates would likely re-open earlier than road gates.
The Wenas Wildlife Area is located southwest of Ellensburg and northwest of Selah, in both Yakima and Kittitas counties. Wildlife use is diverse, including elk, deer, sage grouse, turkey, chukar, quail, and a myriad of small mammals, upland birds, and reptiles. The wildlife area is popular for hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
WDFW actively manages about one million acres statewide, with 33 wildlife areas and nearly 500 water access sites around the state. These public lands help sustain wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.