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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

January 15, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Northeast Washington elk herd topic of public meetings

State Fish and Wildlife sent out a news release on a draft plan and public meeting dates for managing elk in northeast Washington.

At the meetings state Fish and Wildlife will take public comment on the plan, which has been revised in response to hunter input regarding elk numbers in northeast Washington.

The proposed elk management plan is referred to as the “Selkirk Elk Herd Plan” because it includes elk in the Selkirk Mountains of Pend Oreille County. Under the plan, the elk are considered as two distinct sub-herds–the Pend Oreille sub-herd and the Spokane sub-herd.

The plan covers elk management in Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln, Whitman, and eastern Okanogan counties of northeast Washington (Game Management Units 101 – 142 and 204.)

The meetings are 7 p.m.-9 p.m.: Jan. 26, at the Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) #1 Main Office, 1331 2nd Ave. N., in Okanogan; Feb. 1, at Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, in Spokane Valley; and Feb. 2, at the Northeast Washington Fairgrounds Building, 317 W. Astor Ave. in Colville.

Sportsmen’s groups and others have long expressed an interest in elk numbers in some parts of northeast Washington, Kevin Robinette, a state Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager in Spokane said in a news release.

“We have managed elk in this part of the state–where elk groups are small and scattered–with liberal hunting rules to keep elk numbers low and minimize agricultural damage,” Robinette said. “But we have heard from hunters that they want to see more elk.”

Robinette said game managers are trying to address hunters’ interest through the proposed plan, which should result in greater elk numbers by shifting from ‘any elk’ hunting seasons to restrictions on antlerless elk hunting in the Pend Oreille sub-herd areas, including units 101, 105, 108, 121 and 204.

“If agricultural damage problems should arise, we would address them through a variety of tools we use throughout the state,” Robinette said.

The draft plan is available for review at the state Fish and Wildlife website, where a link provides opportunity to submit comments through Feb. 10.

The elk plan must be finalized before changes in Selkirk elk hunting seasons and regulations could be made. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to review proposed new hunt rules in March and to consider adoption in April. If adopted, those rules would become part of 2012-14 state hunting rules package.

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