Oak Creek Wildlife Feeding Area
The Oak Creek Wildlife Area is managed by the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. A supplemental winter feeding program maintains the Yakima elk herd on department lands during the winter; up to 1,200 elk, including about 90 branched-antlered bulls, can be seen at feeding times.
Recognized primarily as winter range for elk, its multipurpose acreage insures permanent populations of fish, elk, deer, bear, chukar, partridge, quail, grouse, and hundreds other other species. In addition, the wildlife area preserves many miles of streambank access for fishermen. The Oak Creek Wildlife Area was purchased with funds obtained from sportsmen through the Federal Pittman-Robinson Act and established in 1939.
When snow blankets the mountains, the elk are forced to migrate to the foothills to find food. Here, they come into conflict with man, whose orchards, ranches, and homes occupy land that the elk need for winter range. Wintering elk may eat from 3 to 10 pounds of hay per day at the feeding stations, most of which is grown and purchased from Washington farmers. During a severe winter, as many as 8,000 elk may use feeding areas. Elk begin arriving as early as mid-November, with the largest part of the herd arriving in January.