Moving herd expensive, but might be only option

Second of three parts

SEQUIM — Wanted: People with trailers to transport elk out of Sequim.

Moving a herd of about 80 animals is an expensive project, says Scott Chitwood, natural resources director for the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

But it’s something he and Tribal Council officials advocate to ensure the animals’ survival.

A city hearing is scheduled this morning to discuss the tribe’s recommendation that Sequim’s herd of Roosevelt elk, which has become a symbol of the Sequim community, be captured and sent elsewhere.

Possible relocation sites include the Sol Duc area in western Clallam County due to the herd’s ongoing conflicts with area farmers.

Tribal officials said this week that removing the herd may be the only way to prevent a “slow death” as suburban development continues to take over elk habitat.

Sequim’s identity has become linked to the elk, with two metal bull-elk sculptures at both ends of the city on U.S. Highway 101.

Many residents enjoy seeing the elk, and flashing “elk crossing” signs are triggered by elk that wear special radio collars.

But, says Chitwood, it’s now obvious that “Sequim’s urban growth plan does not accommodate elk.”

The wilderness they once inhabited has turned into neighborhoods and shopping centers.

The elk have been driven to the farms northeast of town, where they’re feasting on an unnatural diet of alfalfa and other crops.

Some homeowners also complain that the elk devour their backyard plants and trees, and leave unseemly droppings and odors.

Thursday: The Sequim City Council weighs in on the elk issue.

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