Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

WDFW will auction shed elk antlers to help fund winter elk feeding

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will
conduct its first auction of shed elk antlers May 2 to raise funds
for its Oak Creek Wildlife Area winter elk feeding program.

The auction starts at 1 p.m. at the Oak Creek headquarters
building, 16601 Highway 12, west of Naches in Yakima County. Those
interested in bidding should arrive at 11 a.m. to pre-register.

WDFW Wildlife Area Manager John McGowan said hundreds of pounds
of antlers, shed by Rocky Mountain elk at the Oak Creek winter
feeding site will be available for bidding. The antlers, shed
annually by male elk, were picked up and stored by staff and
volunteers in recent years. Winning bids must be paid in cash or
check, payable to WDFW, at the auction.

“We hope this auction will help us offset some of the cost of
feeding these animals every winter,” McGowan said.

“There are some matched sets from some of the biggest and oldest
bulls, plus lots of single sheds of all sizes,” McGowan said.
“We’ll also have some shed antlers from Roosevelt elk from the
Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area, and possibly deer antlers from
other wildlife areas.”

All funds raised at the auction will go into the winter wildlife
feeding program.

About 3,500 to 4,000 elk are fed each winter at several sites on
the 47,200-acre Oak Creek Wildlife Area. WDFW purchased the Oak
Creek land in 1943 to provide a home for growing numbers of elk
that were coming into conflict with private landowners, orchard
growers and livestock producers. Winter feeding began about 1968 to
keep elk on the public land and avoid agricultural damage.

Over 100,000 people visit the headquarters feeding site at Oak
Creek to view elk each winter. The number of big-antlered animals
on display at the site has increased since the 1990s, when
elk-hunting rules were changed to avoid over-harvesting mature
bulls, McGowan said.

“The oldest, biggest bulls shed their antlers first,” he said.
“We had an impressive, 10-year-old bull drop both antlers right in
front of visitors on February 20. Most antlers are shed by early
April, but some of the youngest bulls are still carrying them
now.”

A large portion of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area is closed to all
access until 6 a.m. May 1. The annual closure in early spring is
designed to avoid disturbing the elk at their most vulnerable time
of year. Like other wildlife, winter-fed elk have critically low
energy reserves at the end of winter, McGowan said. They replenish
those reserves by feeding on the first green vegetation in early
spring.

All shed antlers for auction were collected by WDFW from
supplemental feeding sites, not from the surrounding range, McGowan
said.

For more information about the Oak Creek Wildlife Area,
including driving directions, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/oak_creek/.

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