Hunters are being invited to shoot elk high on the San Francisco Peaks again this coming fall -- any age and either gender -- to reduce populations of the aspen-eating animals.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is opening it up as a "physically challenging" hunt to promote aspen regeneration on the San Francisco Peaks, including Hart Prairie.
It proposes to offer 390 tags for hunting in the mostly wilderness area. There will be four anterless elk hunts and three any-elk hunts.
This is the second year the agency has opened the area for elk hunts with an intention to help young aspen trees survive to adulthood.
"We are offering these permits in coordination with the Coconino National Forest as another habitat management tool for aspen regeneration on the Peaks," said Carl Lutch, wildlife program manager for the Flagstaff Game and Fish office. "There are other factors affecting aspen trees, but reducing the number of elk that utilize aspen is one piece of the puzzle in helping aspen recover on the Coconino National Forest."
Feb. 12, 7 p.m., is the deadline for hunters wanting to apply for tags.