This herd of Roosevelt Elk are grazing near Fort Clatsop… not too far from the herd that lost six members due to poisoning last December in Warrenton, Oregon. Normally elk eat trailing blackberry, huckleberry, vine maple, big-leaf maple, salmonberry, Douglas fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, forbs, and grasses. The six that perished consumed deadly English yew, a non-native species.
Roosevelt Elk have a secure status… however they may be facing hardships for the second time in a century due to human influence. The first impact was identified by Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the twentieth century when he recognized elk were in danger of being over-hunted. Herd numbers were at alarmingly low numbers. Roosevelt was the first to protect elk by creating the Olympic National Monument (present day Olympic National Forest) to protect calving grounds and habitat. The elk were named after President Roosevelt, and are also known as Olympic Elk or Wapiti. These elk may be facing reduction in numbers again at the beginning of this century. Wildlife managers predict drops in herd numbers due to changes in grazing and foraging that are caused by forest management practices. The problem? Slowed timber harvests over the past fifty years have created a reduction in serial forests that contain the types of vegetation needed by elk and deer. Some speculated that a drop in native forage caused the elk near Warrenton to consume the deadly English Yew plant.