The elk population in southeastern Washington looks to be at healthy levels.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently completed aerial surveys of the Blue Mountains and estimated the elk population at 5,774 animals.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that number is 500 to 600 higher than in recent years. That should translate into good opportunities for hunters next fall.

Biologists for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game were largely stymied in their efforts to count elk in the Elk City Zone last winter. Biologists say snow was late to arrive, and when it did start the storms were frequent and kept aircraft grounded. By the time the weather cleared it was too lake to conduct the counts.