April 26, 2009

State plans elk antler auction

By The Spokesman-Review

Elk are becoming a cash cow for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For the first time, the agency will auction the antlers elk have shed on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area where they congregate for the state’s only regular winter feeding program.

The auction is set for Saturday starting with pre-registration at 11 a.m. at the wildlife area headquarters, 16601 Highway 12, west of Naches in Yakima County.

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

Hundreds of pounds of antlers picked up by staff and volunteers will be available for bidding, including a few matched sets from some of the biggest and oldest bulls.

About 3,500 to 4,000 elk are fed each winter in a program started in 1968 to help prevent damage to farm crops by keeping elk on the public land.

The winter feeding attracts about 100,000 visitors a year.

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