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Washington State Elk Herd Plan: South Rainier Elk Herd

Category: Wildlife Research and Management - Game Management and Conservation

Date Published: January 2002

Number of Pages: 39

Author(s): Min T. Huang, Patrick J. Miller, Frederick C. Dobler

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The South Rainier elk herd is one of ten herds residing in the State. It is an important resource that provides significant recreational, aesthetic and economic benefit to Washington citizens and is a valued cultural, subsistence, and ceremonial resource to the Native American people of the area.

This plan's purpose is to provide direction for managing the South Rainier elk resource into the future. This is a five-year plan subject to amendment. Before the fifth year this plan should be updated, re-evaluated, amended and implemented for another five-year period. It will be a valuable reference document and guideline for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tribes, agency cooperators, landowners and the general public. Priority management activities will be implemented as funding and resources become available.

Three primary goals guide the South Rainier Elk Herd Plan: (1) to manage this elk herd for a sustained yield; (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 and enhance elk and their habitats to ensure healthy, productive populations.

Specific elk herd and habitat management objectives, problems and strategies are identified in this plan. Priority objectives address specific problems in managing this elk herd and a variety of strategies have been developed to solve these problems. The following objectives have been identified:

  • Manage the South Rainier Elk Herd using the best available science.
  • Increase the estimated elk population in the eastern half of its range from about 1,700 to approximately 2,500 elk, in keeping with habitat limitations and landowner tolerance.
  • Manage all game management units for bull ratios consistent with the statewide plan (currently greater than or equal to12 bulls per 100 cows post-season) in combination with overall bull mortality rates less than or equal to 50 percent.
  • Minimize elk damage to private property.
  • Encourage maintaining the current amount and quality of elk habitat on U.S. Forest Service lands (no net loss).
  • Maintain the current amount of elk winter range along the Cowlitz and Skookumchuck rivers and the Hanaford Creek area.
  • Develop diverse private/public partnerships to improve habitat and management of elk.

Spending priorities have also been identified for the first five years. Achieving spending levels will be contingent upon available funds and the creation of partnerships. The recommended prioritized expenditures for the South Rainier Elk Herd are as follows:

Prioritized Expenditures 1st year 5 years
Pre-hunting season composition surveys $6,000.00 $30,000.00
Improve state and tribal harvest data collection $12,000.00 $60,000.00
Secure and enhance elk winter habitats $50,000.00 $250,000.00
Post-hunting season composition surveys $3,000.00 $15,000.00
Increase enforcement emphasis patrols $10,000.00 $50,000.00
TOTAL $81,000.00 $405,000.00