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Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

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Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

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Location: Central Washington
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 27
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

I have never visited the Mt. Saint Helens area but know that it does have a rather large herd, one that exceptionally rebounded after the eruption. I personally feel that a herd of over 12,000 is a rather large herd and should be reduced like they're planning. The reduction will only benefit the elk herd by opening up more resources. Hunting will be a compensatory mortality hunt, meaning that the death of the animals caused by hunters would have happened regardless of the hunting through disease or winter die off. Reducing the herd however to carrying capacity doesn't exactly solve the problem. The term carrying capacity means that the amount of resources in a given area can support X number of animals, but the herd as of now has went over carrying capacity and there doesnt seem to be a tremendous die off which we should see if they overshot K.
I think special hunts should be conducted within the area to reduce the herd. Use disabled hunters and youth to harvest most of the animals would be my suggestion. Allowing youth to take part in a "management" hunt will serve as an educational purpose as well. Knowing that they are not killing an animal but rather harvesting it to better the overall herd health.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

One problem. I have hunted this area since before the eruption, and things have changed now. The only reason that there was a die off last year was because those elk were in an area that white man cannot legally hunt. There is no pressure. It is an avenue to escape to for these elk. Years ago, before the mountain erupted, you could count on hunters traversing over every square inch of this area, no gated roads deterring hunters, no national volcanic monument which is only open to tribal members to hunt. Billy Bob could, and would hunt over the entire area, chasing elk all over the place. Elk moved about, and got thinned in the process. Now, you have tribal members shooting the closest elk to the road in the national park. You have gated areas where elk do not have to move out, why leave...they will just get shot at...so they stay, and starve. Especially since the woods is closing in around them in this area since the rebirth after the mountain blew.

So, why the die off? Too many Elk, give me a break. The problem lies in access to the land. The herd would be in control if hunters had more than 8 days to hunt elk with a gun, had access to the land (thanks alot private timber companies...) and had reduced antler point restrictions. Remember, to the department of Wildlife, Game management = Hunter management. Push all the guys into a few days, check their tags, and send them home. Sorry if I sound a bit PO'd over the issue, but I am.

Take this year for example. The private timber company decided to close the area where I hunt on the south side of the mountain. Gates closed. "Feel free to hunt" just walk in five miles, and you cannot stay the night...good luck draggin your elk out three to five miles of straight uphill to the truck. The herd is doing fine in these areas. Numbers up, pressure down. Do the timber companies have any incentive to open their gates? Someone will just dump trash, or get hurt on their land and sue the bajeezes out of the timber company. It is a skrood up mess. I do not have the perfect answer. I don't mind walking in a ways, maybe a mile to hunt, but pushing three in the dark down hill, to hunt, can't take my dad on these hunts, so I have a hard time going in all day myself. Sort of takes the fun out of it if the old timers are stuck at or nearby the gate.

I am done griping...I feel better now....

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Location: Central Washington
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 27
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

Hopefully the plan will be to increase the hunting season, reduce restrictions and improve on access areas. I think the gated roads should be opened only during the hunting season, but i just cant stand all the road hunting that goes on, that to me is not hunting. I think the term "hunt" is walking miles to find your animal and harvest it. Half the fun is packing it out, but i agree an elk to pack out on your back over miles of rugged terrain is insane. I think if they keep the gates close during hunting season, they should open the gates to those that harvest an elk behind the gates and allow for those successful hunters to get their game out using a vehicle. But then again, road hunting may be the only possible option for disabled hunters, if that is the case i am all for it.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

Good points. I do appreciate reduced access (gates), but for a limited distance. If roads were gated half way in, or whatever, where some roads were open for setting up camps, maybe side hunts, and then the rest closed, for entry by foot only, that would be ok with me. I have had the unfortunate experience of walking way way in on a gated road , only to have a car load of natives drive by me in a sedan, they having keys.

I cannot see allowing anyone to drive in, if all others walk. Meat or no meat. I have packed meat out, long ways, I think allowing hunters to drive in if they get meat, promotes guys pushing themselves past their limits. Hey, I can always drive it outta here!

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Location: Puyallup, WA
Joined: 08/26/2005
Posts: 16
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

Well I kinda like the closed gates. I think that opening them up for hunters to pack out killed elk will only lead to more problems with dishonest people. I think if you are hardcore enough you can pack in a day before the season and have a cold camp as far in as you can walk. It may take you a day to pack out an elk, but to me it'd be worth it.

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Location: Covington, WA
Joined: 12/27/2005
Posts: 19
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

What I find really interesting is the fact that the herd has gotten too big in that area, yet if you look at the hunter success rate for those GMUs, you find like the rest of the state a SUCCESS??? rate of less than 10%. So if the herd is so darn big, why the low success rate? My opinion is that it can be blamed mostly on the timber companies. Their locked gates, and the new growth areas being to thick with trees.
Locked gates-timber companies justify this by claiming it's due to vandalism and lawsuits from injuries. They can solve this situation by opening the gates, and charging for a yearly permit to access the area. Kind of like down south where you have to pay a hunting lease fee, to hunt on someones property. If they charged a fee, (like Weyerhouser did till they sold most of their tree farms to some eastcoast companies), post a guy at one or two select entry points, they could limit and control who gets in there and cut down on the vandalism. It worked for Big W.
And we can thank the great Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for helping the timber companies put up a good portion of those gates. Nothing like making it an exclusive hunting area for your RMEF buddies, eh...

Overplanted reprod-ok, I never have understood why they have to plant trees 2' apart only to go in there and cut down some of them in 5 years and then go back in and cut somemore in 10 years. The woods are still too thick for the animals and man to walk through, plus you have all those cut trees laying all over the place so that you or an animal can't even walk through the area.

And let's not forget the "decommissioned raods". What a stupid thing that was. Why did they have to go in and literally tear-up the existing road and tearout all the culverts? why couldn't they just tank trap it or gate it at the beginning and now classify it as an unmaintained trail? Now they have created these 30'wide and 30'deep mud ditches that man or animal can't get across. And becuase they have went in with a backhoe and tore the whole road up, the road isn't even walkable by man or animal.

And don't even get me started on the "Native American" scam...because I think that's all it is. Why do they have the right to "subsistance" hunt, but we don't. When did we give up our right to "subsistence" hunt. I have alot more on this, but I'll stop...gets me too damn mad...

I'm about to the point of saying the heck with it and not even buying a license for hunting and fishing anymore. If a majority of the hunters and fishermen did this, the WDFG that gets a majority of their funding from license sales would have to layoff a good many of their gamies, and then we could go hunt and fish just like the indian...oh, I'm sorry...Native Americans....

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Location: Washington State
Joined: 04/09/2006
Posts: 9
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

It'll be interesting to see how many tags there are for this area when the regulations are published in May.

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Location: OlyWa
Joined: 04/27/2005
Posts: 472
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd
Rooselk wrote:
It'll be interesting to see how many tags there are for this area when the regulations are published in May.

Early reports are that they may go to youth, disabled and over 65. Either way, they will mostly be cow tags and probably proportioned over the next 5 years.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd

BearHunter59, you are my kind of guy! We think alike. Great idea, buy no tag..., unfortunately, years back, Wildlife began getting their funding thru the general fund. They could care less about tag sales. they can have a skkreww you attitude, and still get 100% funding.

With the recent entry/viewing closures around St Helens, to back off on the pressure on the wintering elk herd, how much do you want to bet, the indians will still go in an hunt?

Can anyone recommend a good state to move to?

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Location: OlyWa
Joined: 04/27/2005
Posts: 472
Washington May Expand Hunting to Reduce Mt St Helens Herd
Iceman wrote:

Can anyone recommend a good state to move to?

Was thinking this very same thought over the weekend.... I vote Idaho!

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