There are a couple of more weeks left to take a 2 ½-hour drive from Seattle to the state’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima, and get to within 10 feet of some 100 bighorn sheep being fed alfalfa pellets and hay across the fence.
Then, about 3 miles away, you can stop and see 500 to 600 elk being fed, says Ross Huffman, the state’s wildlife area manager for Oak Creek.
The sheep are fed partly to keep them from going onto nearby farms, but mostly so tourists can have “viewing opportunities,” and also to trap some of the sheep and relocate them to other Eastern Washington areas. It’s best to get there midmorning.
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The elk are fed because these big creatures, weighing 500 to 800 pounds, have a tendency to trample farmers’ fences when looking for food, and then the farmers file claims for damages.
Directions to the feeding site are at seati.ms/yfImjo.
The weather is clear and nippy right now, with plowed roads, says Huffman.