Regarding the Capital Press April 12, “Elk disrupt farming in Northwest Washington valley.”
Double O Ranch, Concrete, founded in early 1940s has always been home to an abundance of wildlife including deer and an occasional elk. There has never been a elk herd until the fall of 2012 when we were inundated with about 50 elk.
After more than 6 years of feeding 30-60 head of elk during late summer, fall and winter we are experiencing losses from diminishing returns. Elk constantly overgraze pastures, destroying our grass production and making it a continuous battle to restore hay and grazing capacity.
This year alone we spent $16,000 to purchase hay to replace feed consumed by elk along with 400 tons we made. When you add costs of increased fertilizer, pasture damage, fencing, purchasing hay and spoilage from torn bales, timber losses and useless hazing it makes it difficult for a small family to continue ranching. Another looming hazard is threat of deadly hoof disease found in elk herds in Skagit County.
I can go on all day about our losses and struggles, but the legality of the elk invasion of our properties lies at the core of the whole elk issue. As law-abiding, tax paying citizens of Washington we should not be subjected to undue hardships that threaten our livelihood and our safety. Why have the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Tribes ignored state laws to the extent they have? We would be subject to fines and jail time.
After years of abiding by laws and following WDFW’s hazing and permit recommendations for elk removal with no relief from damages, landowners are faced with the dilemma of how to protect their property. The lack of a plan by co-managers have left us with few solutions. If WDFW does not present a clear plan for removal, it will be up to us to do so. Why didn’t the co-managers plan for this before their negligence created this problem?