Commissioners from southwest Washington counties are worried about sinking elk population numbers so they wrote a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to extend the mountain lion season for three additional months to March 31.
Recent findings from a WDFW predator-prey study shows 104 of 125 calves previously collared in the Blue Mountains did not survive. That more than 80 percent figure marks a 30-year low. According to Northwest Sportsman magazine, the Blue Mountains herd is 36 percent below population objective.
“We share a common concern with our constituents and were shocked at the most recent elk calf mortality study. Coupled with other data on elk mortality, we have grave concerns about the apparent inadequacy in the protection of the elk and elk calves to date,” Wrote Asotin County Commissioners Chris Seubert, Brian Shinn and Chuck Whitman as reported by the Lewiston Tribune.
Contributing factors most likely include habitat conditions and a predator menu including wolves, bears and mountain lions. The Lick Creek Fire, which burned more than 80,000 acres in 2021, also burned through some of the study area.
The Blue Mountains are a range that stretch from southeast Washington into northeast Oregon.
(Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)