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Ray Norton is the winner!

Elk is the answer for Week 466 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country. Watch each day for another clue.

When you think you know the answer, drop us an email at: Please, let us know where you are from, if it is out of the area.

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Monday: Were once scarce

Tuesday: Part of a balance

Wednesday: Highly prized by some people

Thursday: Need particular conditions to thrive

Friday: Is a target species

Saturday: Fire helped them increase

When the Lewis and Clark Expedition was in the Clearwater region no one killed an elk nor even mentioned seeing one. However on their return trip the guide showed them an area where the Nez Perce hunted the animals, so apparently they were scattered through the area. According to The Clearwater Story, by the time of the early miners arrived there must have been some elk as indicated in names of creeks and mountains.

In 1935 the Clearwater Forest grazing report contained a statement that the elk were becoming so numerous that they were depleting the winter range. That overgrazing continued for over 20 years to about 1955. The population is believed to have peaked in 1948. Some of the factors that impacted the increas of the elk population were:

  • The fires of 1910 and 1919 which opened more browse areas.
  • Hunters that bagged 100 mountain lions in 1913 and 1914.
  • Hunters, trappers and sheepmen also killed bear that preyed on the elk.
  • There were few elk hunters due to accessiblity.

Ralph Space, author of The Clearwater Story believes some of the reasons that the elk population has declined since include:

  • Increased in numbers of hunters
  • More accessiblity for hunters with roads
  • Winter range has decreased due to over grazing and reproduction of trees that shade out the shrubs
  • Numbers of preditors have increased

Today, Idaho Department of Fish and Game manages the elk and predators as part of the mission.

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Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Orofino 476 0733
Fax: 208-476-4140