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Letter: Elk continue to be a problem in Wallowa County

In my humble opinion, it is time for the state to take the lead in developing new management guidelines for elk.

Published on February 6, 2018 4:08PM


I found the recent “Year in Review” photo of elk on feed in the Troy area interesting. The fact that the state can find the funding to feed elk in the Troy and North Powder areas year after year and yet plead lack of resources or take no responsibility when elk were starving and raiding hay barns during last year’s severe winter does not make good management sense.

Following the trial in Circuit Court on charges of illegal elk killing (plea bargained), I was led to believe that a committee was to be formed or meeting to be held to seek changes in the elk management policy.

Because it does not appear at this time that the 2018 winter will be as severe as 2017, the nonimpacted observer might conclude that the problem has gone away.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Upward of 400 head of elk come to the lower valley each summer commencing around Aug. 10 and continuing until the first Bull Elk Rifle Season in the fall. This migration has been occurring for at least the past 30 years. At the onset of the hunting season, the elk tend to leave the irrigated ground to travel a few miles north where they continue to feed on private land.

In addition, around 50 cow elk now come to the lower valley in early spring to have their calves. Many of these animals stay in the valley all summer.

I will admit that I am somewhat biased on this issue since I have suffered considerable financial losses due to elk damage over the past 30 years. Local game biologists are well aware of these issues.

It is a bit tiring to be asked two to three times a week by friends traveling Hwy. 82 past my property, “how are your elk doing” or “your elk herd looks like they are in good shape.”

At the same time, the state sells tags or raffles permits to fund their budget while expecting the private landowner to raise their product.

In my humble opinion, it is time for the state to take the lead in developing new management guidelines for elk. Perhaps it is time to elevate the elk depredation problem to the same level as the wolf program where payments are being mage to individuals who have suffered damage attributable to wolf pack or do wolves rank higher than elk in policy?

I and other landowners are awaiting positive action and leadership on these issues by the state, although after 30-plus years, I am not holding my breath.

Dale F. Johnson

Wallowa



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