This year, the number of elk hunting licenses available to hunters is expected to exceed the number of moose hunting licenses released, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). This is a consequence of the agency’s recently-implemented harvest strategy for ungulate species, which seeks to ensure the maintenance of the state’s moose populations.
The WDFW’s strategy is designed to safeguard moose populations from overharvesting, and is based on a series of scientific studies that “examined the impacts of hunting on the state’s moose populations” over the last decade. This research determined that a decrease in moose hunting licenses is necessary in order to maintain healthy and sustainable populations.
Given the agency’s research findings, the WDFW implemented a “harvest strategy” to decrease the number of moose hunting licenses in order to provide a “sustainable level” of hunting opportunity. As a result, the number of available elk hunting licenses has increased, while the number of moose licenses has declined. This year, the WDFW has released far fewer moose hunting licenses than in years past, while expanding the number of elk hunting licenses to meet the demand.
The WDFW has been proactive in making sure that moose populations remain healthy and stable even as the number of hunting licenses for the species decreases. The agency has implemented conservation measures designed to protect and promote the recovery of moose populations, such as habitat restoration efforts, predator control programs, and the expansion of protected areas.
The WDFW hopes that its recently-implemented harvest strategy will ensure the long-term sustainability of moose populations across Washington state, while still providing hunting opportunities for elk hunters. The agency is confident that its efforts will result in healthy and robust populations of both moose and elk in the years to come.