The Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife is beginning a brand new examine geared toward figuring out why elk herds within the Blue Mountains declined and what’s maintaining them from bouncing again.
Company biologists will try and seize and radio-collar 125 elk calves beginning subsequent week to watch their survival and decide causes of demise by way of the next yr, in line with a information launch.
“This can be a distinctive venture to assist us decide the first causes of demise for elk calves within the Blue Mountains,” mentioned Anis Aoude, sport division supervisor for the division. “When a radio collar places out a mortality sign, it’ll function a set off for our biologists to shortly get out and decide the trigger.”
The Blue Mountains elk herd declined beneath the company’s inhabitants goal of 5,500 elk following a harsh winter in 2017 and was nonetheless estimated at 25 p.c beneath the target in 2019. The inhabitants trended upward the next yr, however was discovered properly beneath goal once more this yr.
In response, the company diminished cow elk looking alternatives beginning in 2017, however the change hasn’t produced the specified enhance in elk numbers. In response to the information launch, biologists imagine low survival of calves is the first issue maintaining the herd from recovering.
The examine is designed to find out if calf recruitment is limiting progress of the herd and, if that’s the case, what elements are inflicting calves to die. The elk calves will likely be captured and radio-collared within the northern Blue Mountains between Dayton and Asotin Creek.