A long-term research project has resulted in fewer available elk tags for two hunts in the Starkey Experimental Forest in Oregon this fall. Previously, 25 tags were available for both 252C and 252R, but now only 12 tags will be available for each, according to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) press release.
Hunt 252C is an any legal weapon hunt that runs Oct. 27 to 31. Hunt 252R is an archery hunt that runs Sept. 11 to 19.
Within the Starkey Experimental Forest, the elk population is “managed to meet research objectives” and the current project examines “factors influencing mule deer populations, including competition with elk and predation.” It’s in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, according to the agency.
Over the past four years, ODFW has moved 363 elk from this forest to the Mt. Emily and Starkey units. Hunters have also harvested 146 elk in the Forest, reducing the overall Experimental Forest population by 80% to 85%. Researchers plan to compare mule deer habitat use and demographics, identifying differences at varying elk densities. Essentially, seeing if reducing elk creates a positive response to mule deer population. They will also assess the “impacts of predation and available nutrition.”
If you already applied for one of these impacted hunts, you have until June 1 to change your hunt choice. You can do this either through your online account or at a license sale agent.