Winter offers a great time to view wildlife watching, and one of the best places in the state to set your sights on hundreds of hungry elk and big-horn sheep is state Fish and Wildlife’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area.
With cold temperatures and heavy snow in the forecast, managers at the wildlife area 15 miles northwest of Yakima are expecting a strong turnout of big game animals feeding on alfalfa hay and pellets.
State Fish and Wildlife’s winter feeding program usually gets under way when snow starts to pile up. Even before feeding begins, some animals are visible near traditional winter feeding sites.
In past winters, more than 1,000 elk are fed 30 tons of alfalfa at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area until they migrate back into the mountains.
Bald eagles can also be observed feeding on spawned-out salmon along the Yakima River.
Oak Creek visitors can check the recorded message on the headquarters phone 509-653-2390 for updates on feeding and volunteer-led, elk-viewing tours. Tour reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance by calling 509-698-5106.
(Photo by Ellen M. Banner, Seattle Times staff photographer)