The Skagit Valley in Washington state has too many elk. So does the northwestern corner of Oregon — and the northeastern corner. And so do many spots around the West.
Elk pose a traffic hazard and threaten school children when the animals congregate in and around school yards. Elk eat crops and hay.
Elk trample fields, pastures and lawns, tear down fences and overrun farms and forests, causing millions of dollars in damage.
In short, elk are the poster children for how not to manage wildlife. For decades wildlife managers had tried to increase elk numbers. Apparently, they did too good a job.
It’s time to take corrective action.
In Oregon and Washington, wildlife managers need to make hard decisions that will actually help the farmers, ranchers and other members of the public who have had their fill of elk.
The managers know that if they take a step that will reduce the number of elk they will catch flak from other groups that say they like elk, and the more the merrier.
Such is the plight of public servants. They should know about Sir Isaac Newton’s “Third Law of Emotion:” For every action they take there will be an equal and opposite reaction — and a social media overreaction.
During this era of social media — sorry, we mean anti-social media — all public figures are subjected to criticism for everything they do. The vast majority of people who spend their days jabbering on social media apparently don’t have jobs, and are in cities where even elk wouldn’t want to live.
We have a suggestion. Wildlife managers in Washington and Oregon should throw their smart phones in the nearest dumpster — or at least turn off the social media.
Then they should talk with the people who are directly impacted by the overpopulation of elk and figure out a way to get rid of the excess animals as soon as possible.
More hunting tags with fewer strings attached would be one idea. Herding the elk into areas where wolves have taken up residence is another idea.
Killing the elk and donating the meat to food banks is still another idea.
Managing wildlife is not easy. Seeing a handful of elk occasionally is fine. But being overrun by hundreds of elk that are eating thousands of dollars of hay meant for cattle and damaging private property is not.