Preliminary findings from a predator-prey study launched earlier this year in a Washington study area show more than 80 percent of elk calves born in the Blue Mountains died.
According to Northwest Sportsman magazine, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind reported those finding while addressing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in September 2021. Susewind said 104 of 125 calves previously collared did not survive, marking a 30-year low.
“It’s a higher rate than you would expect to see normally,” Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, told Northwest Sportsman magazine.
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: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)