The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) is conducting elk surveys in Kittitas County this week.

Biologists will be focusing on the Colockum Herd in an area northwest of Ellensburg.

WDFW Regional Wildlife Program Manager, Ross Huffman, says the survey is done every two years.

"We do that to get an estimate of the elk population and find out if it's within our management objectives which are established as part of our elk herd plan. The information is then used in helping to design permit amounts and tag allocations for elk hunting season."

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Huffman says there are no research projects attached to the survey and it's not designed to make any specific observations regarding herd health or disease impacts.

"It's purely just counting elk at this point. We do the count by observing just basic age and sex classes, so we're looking for males and females and calves from last year and the ratios for their numbers. That helps determine how well the herd is doing overall, as well as its growth potential."

The agency reported about 3,800 elk in the Colockum Herd during its last survey, which was on par with its expectations.

The survey is conducted from the air and people in the area might notice a low-flying helicopter when it's happening.

Huffman says weather permitting, the count should be wrapped up by late Wednesday.

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