The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has announced changes to the elk hunting season in the East Kootenay.For this fall, the elk hunting seasons in the South Trench of the Kootenay region will be as follows: General Open Season for antlerless elk in 4-03 Zone X (includes portions of 4-2 to 4-5 and 4-20 to 4-22), Sept. 20 to Sept. 30 – CLOSED. Senior/youth season for antlerless elk in 4-03 Zone X (includes portions of 4-2 to 4-5 and 4-20 to 4-22), Sept. 10 to Sept. 14 – CLOSED. Senior/youth season for antlerless elk in 4-26 Zone X (includes portions of 4-25 and 4-26), Sept. 10 to Sept. 19 – CLOSED. For a detailed map of Zone X, please consult Page 52 of the 2012-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/hunting/regulations/All other elk hunting seasons in the Kootenay region remain unaffected. The elk hunting seasons were initially expanded in 2010 to help reduce crop damage in the South Trench area.However, crop damage has persisted, despite a decrease in elk numbers.The ministry is considering a number of site-specific measures in those agricultural areas hardest hit. Local stakeholders are currently reviewing options to ensure elk are managed sustainably and in a manner that meets the interests of all involved.This year’s hunting season closures are guided by the Kootenay Elk Management Plan that called for a 20- to 40-per-cent reduction to local elk populations. Elk populations now have been reduced 35 per cent, and lowering the elk harvest is now needed to maintain elk numbers at the management target agreed to in the plan, and to avoid continued population declines.Population surveys conducted in January 2013 estimate there are 7,509 elk in the South Trench area. The 2008 population for elk in the South Trench was estimated at 11,580.