Part of last April's Sequim elk herd rests in a field above Brownfield Road off U.S. Highway 101 southeast of Sequim.  —Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

Part of last April's Sequim elk herd rests in a field above Brownfield Road off U.S. Highway 101 southeast of Sequim. —Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

A reprieve: No public hunt this winter for Sequim’s elk

SEQUIM –– For the first time in a decade, there won’t be any public hunts of the Dungeness Valley’s signature elk herd this winter.

“We’ve got it down to a number we think we can sustain with limited hunts, so we have done away with public hunts for the Sequim herd,” said Sgt. Eric Anderson of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There will be hunts to cull the herd, but they will be performed by selected master hunters, land owners who have crops damaged by the Roosevelt elk and hunters on the Fish and Wildlife staff.

Seventeen were culled from the herd during the six-month season that ended last March.

Anderson said they expect 10 elk will be hunted this year.

With the new calves born in the spring, the herd now numbers around 40, with 10-12 of those being bulls, according to Tim Cullinan, the wildlife biologist who monitors the herd for the Point No Point Treaty Council.

“We don’t really take a full count until the spring because there can be a lot of mortality in the calves over the winter,” Cullinan said.

The target is to bring the herd to a population of 25, with three bulls and the rest cows and calves, Anderson said.

Up until about six years ago, the herd numbered more than 100 and was causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to Dungeness Valley crops.

In one night, the herd ate some $20,000 worth of field cabbage, Anderson said.

“We bumped up the hunts to offset that,” he said.

“We want to keep the herd there for people to enjoy, but we also need to limit the damage that can be done by a population that has no predators.”

Previous policy also allowed landowners who received hunting tags to sell them to the public as compensation for elk damage.

But that has changed, Anderson said, as the state has created a larger pool of funding to compensate landowners for wildlife damage.

Those land owners will be allowed to keep the meat of the elk they kill, as will the master hunters.

Elk taken by Fish and Wildlife hunters will be donated to the Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes who use them in food programs for tribal elders.

Hunters may have a harder time finding the elk this year, though, as Cullinan said they have adjusted their schedules to stay out of sight.

Cullinan has tracked the herd with radio collars placed on some elk for years, but this year, he has been keeping an eye on the animals using two elk wearing collars that transmit their locations to satellites.

From that information, Cullinan has noticed the herd of cows and calves is spending most of its days in the woods near Graysmarsh Farm above Jamestown and leaving at night to feed on maturing corn fields.

“They’re pretty well-trained,” Cullinan said. “It’s like they’ve read the hunting regulations pamphlet and figured out there’s no hunting after dark.”

Historically, the herd spent most of its time in the Olympic foothills south of Sequim.

After discovering a steady supply of field crops in the Dungeness Valley in the early part of this century, the elk began to spend more and more of the year out of the foothills.

________

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored

EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Broadband, public health before county boards

Government meetings across North Olympic Peninsula

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds

County to repave section of Carlsborg Road

Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding a contract for… Continue reading

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail and the entrance to the Port Angeles City Pier parking lot on Wednesday as part of a project to improve sidewalks and storm water drainage around the site. The project is expected to be substantially completed and the parking lot reopened by mid-March. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Angeles City Pier

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail… Continue reading