Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oak Creek Wildlife Area Teeming with Eye Candy

Visitors to the Oak Creek Wildlife area can view large wildlif close up over the next few weeks.

For the next few weeks, the Oak Creek Wildlife area will allow visitors to view Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, California big horn sheep, and resident sage grouse. The wildlife migrates to the lower elevations of the Tieton and Naches River canyons to avoid the heavy snows in the upper elevations.

The Oak Creek Wildlife area is located about 15 miles west of Yakima and allows exploration of lands that are protected as wildlife habitat. Hunting is allowed in some areas with a permit, but most will find an opportunity to watch elk and other wildlife at close proximity. The land was purchased in 1939 for the purpose of protecting wildlife and the areas’ agricultural interests. There is nearly 100 miles of fencing to keep wildlife from damaging crops adjacent to the refuge.

Approximately 150 elk are fed per day at the Oak Creek Headquarters off U.S. Highway 12 near Naches, Washington.

Visitors are allowed to drive all over the property with only a few roads described as not suitable for cars. Hiking, camping and exploring are also permitted with some seasonal restrictions. The needs of wildlife comes first, and closures occur during sensitive nesting seasons for eagles, hawks and falcons as well as winter recovery seasons for larger mammals like elk and deer.

About a mile west of the junction of Highway 410 on Highway 12, is the small Oak Creek visitor center that allows curious sightseers the opportunity to view wildlife from the comfort of their vehicle. Tour trucks that are supported by donations are available most weekends during winter. Since the wildlife does not consider the truck a threat, riders can view the animals from as close as ten feet.

Elk are the most common large mammal sighted, but visitors can also see the more shy California Bighorn Sheep that were reintroduced into Washington after native populations were wiped out in the 1930s.

For those that are more enthused about the wildlife, you can “adopt” an elk or sheep for $35 to $50. The refuge generally spends about that much to feed a single animal per winter. The winter population may number up to 800 animals in a serious winter.

2 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Great photos as always, Gregg!

Gregg said...

Thank you Fuzz....

 
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