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Washington State Elk Herd Plan: Colockum Elk Herd (2006)

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: October 2006

Number of Pages: 58

Author(s): Jeff Bernatowicz

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The Colockum Elk Herd is the fifth largest of ten herds identified in the State. It is an important resource that provides significant recreational, aesthetic, cultural, and economic benefits to recreationists, local communities, and Native Americans. The purpose of this plan is to provide direction for the management of the Colockum elk resource for the next 5 years. The plan is subject to amendment. Priority management activities will be implemented as funding and resources become available.

There are three primary goals for the Colockum Elk Herd: (1) To preserve, protect, perpetuate, and manage elk and their habitats to ensure healthy, productive populations; (2) to manage elk for a variety of recreational, educational and aesthetic purposes including hunting, scientific study, cultural and ceremonial uses by Native Americans, wildlife viewing, and photography; and (3) to manage the elk herd for a sustainable yield.

Specific elk herd and habitat management goals, objectives, and strategies have been identified in the plan. These are priority objectives identified to address specific problems in elk management. To accomplish each objective a variety of strategies have been developed. The following objectives have been identified:

  • Maintain the population objective at 4,500 animals +/- 5% in the surveyed portion of the winter range. Assess the long-term social tolerances and habitat limitations for the Colockum elk herd and if necessary, adjust the population objective accordingly.
  • Maintain the post-season elk population composition ratios in the surveyed area of the Colockum Herd within the objectives of the Game Management Plan, currently at 12-20 bulls: 100 cows, with 2-10% of bull sub-population made up of mature animals, and total bull mortality of less than 50%.
  • Improve elk habitat quality and minimize disturbance to the elk herd during critical times of the year.
  • Minimize complaints and damage caused by elk, thereby improving landowner support for Colockum elk management.
  • Work cooperatively with the Yakama Nation to collect and share data pertaining to the Colockum herd.
  • Increase public awareness of the Colockum herd and develop elk viewing opportunities.
  • Work with public land managers to improve and protect elk habitat on state and federal lands including WDFW, DNR, and USFS. Work with private land managers to improve and protect elk habitat on private lands.
  • Conduct research where needed to provide essential data for improving management of Colockum Elk.

Spending priorities have been identified for the first year and the next 5 years. Achieving spending levels will be contingent upon availability of funds and creation of partnerships. The recommended annual priority expenditures for the Colockum herd are as follows:

Priority
1st year cost
5 year cost
Herd population/composition surveys
$14,000
$70,000
Reduce burden of elk on private landowners
$112,000
$480,000
Work with landowners and livestock operators to
enhance elk forage
$25,000
$75,000
Access Management
$65,000
$215,000
Habitat Management
$30,000
$90,000
Purchase critical elk habitat
$1,000,000
$5,000,000
Research
$75,000
$350,000
TOTAL
$1,321,000
$6,280,000