THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
Two Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife areas (WLAs) and multiple units of other wildlife areas in southeast Washington are closed to public access until April. These closures are aimed at cutting down on disturbances to deer and elk struggling through extreme winter conditions.
Heavy snow loads and colder than normal temperatures are causing physical stress to wildlife in the area. The 4-O Ranch and Grouse Flats WLAs, along with the Weatherly Unit, Shumaker Unit, and all Asotin Creek WLA units south of the North Fork of Asotin Creek and Campbell Grade are closed to human activity. Minimizing contact between humans and animals will help the chances of survival for wildlife.
“The 2019 winter has been more severe than normal in February and elk and deer are at the lowest end of their nutritional state. It is thought that the fall drought, lack of fall green up, and the dry summer may have resulted in elk being in poorer than normal condition entering the winter. Elk and deer have been documented dying of starvation in places in southeast Washington. Reducing any further stress from disturbance will be important to maximize survival,” said Paul Wik, District Wildlife biologist
These closures will mostly impact shed hunters who use the approximately 27,190 affected acres to recover antlers dropped by deer and elk this time of year. Adjacent U.S. Forest Service public lands are still open for winter recreation activities at this time.
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“We know it’s an adjustment for the public, but we need their help. Abiding by the closure helps to protect our wildlife for long-term population health,” Wik said.
Closed areas are marked with signs to the extent possible. Fishing access is still available for the river corridor on the Shumaker unit. Motorized travel on county maintained roads through the areas is also still allowed.
More information on WDFW wildlife areas can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/