If you want to take a wagon ride through a herd of wild elk at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, you need to take it soon. Unseasonably warm temperatures have caused elk to leave the meadow at the WMA early. For that reason, Division of Wildlife Resources managers have decided to end the wagon rides early this year.
DWR managers have decided to end wagon rides at the Hardware Ranch WMA early this year. Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 are the last days to take a wagon ride through the few elk that are still at the ranch.
Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 are the last days to take a ride through the elk herd. After Feb. 10, the elk-viewing season — which was scheduled to run until Feb. 26 — will end for the year.
Hardware Ranch WMA Manager Brad Hunt says the elk are exhibiting behavior that he usually doesn’t see until March. “They’re moving to the hills above the meadows,” Hunt says. “And they’re acting anxious to move to even higher county.”
On Feb. 7, Hunt said 90 elk were still near the meadows where the wagon rides are held. Earlier this winter, the meadows had nearly 500 elk in them.
With unseasonably warm temperatures in the long range forecast, Hunt was concerned about people coming to the ranch and not seeing many elk. “The meadow is also getting really muddy,” he says. “It we keep running wagons over it, we’ll likely damage the meadow grasses that we’ll harvest this summer so we can feed elk next winter.”