During the fall hunting season, the refuge became a sanctuary for the elk resulting in a negative impact of heavy browsing of young aspen and other deciduous shrubs and trees on the refuge. Damage to hay and other agricultural crops, fences and ornamental shrubs occurred on surrounding private lands. Hunting is one of the six priority refuge public uses identified in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (NWRSIA) of 1997. The growing elk population is adequate to provide high quality hunting opportunities while maintaining elk on the refuge for other priority public uses. Opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography may actually increase as a result of elk being pushed out of the hunting area and into adjacent refuge areas closed to hunting. Because of these reasons plus interest from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other hunting advocates, refuge staff decided to propose a special permit elk hunt in the Turnbull NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).
Feeling blue? Look for the western bluebird, the perfect indicator of a healthy, thriving ponderosa pine forest.