PAT NEAL: A solution for Sequim elk

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news.

State wildlife officials have proposed eliminating 25 of the estimated 40 elk residing in Sequim because of the tens of thousands of dollars of agricultural damage they have inflicted on the few remaining farms in the area.

While ensuring the future of sustainable agriculture is a common goal, we all must share it is only part of the puzzle to preserve the quality of life for future generations to enjoy.

The iconic Sequim elk have been important members of the community since shortly after the last ice age.

These civic-minded ungulates have provided a unique identity to Sequim.

From the welcoming signs on either end of town to the primitive pageantry of their seasonal rutting displays, they have selflessly donated their time and names to the many fine real estate developments, street signs and small businesses in Sequim that bear the name of elk.

All while attracting hordes of spend-happy tourists who travel to Sequim to thrill to the spectacle of these magnificent creatures roaming free in an urban setting.

It is unfortunate that instead of rewarding the elk for the valuable public service they perform, we shame and marginalize them for damaging crops.

While it might be easy to play the blame game and victimize the elk for their burgeoning population it might be more helpful for the exploding human population to look in the mirror to see the big picture.

Perhaps by employing the principles of a sound scientific methodology, we could contrast and compare the environmental impacts of both species, the humans and the elk in an effort to forge an equitable sustainable solution for the stewardship of the eco-system as a whole.

There is no question that the elk threaten sustainable agriculture.

I remember when an elk herd walked through my garden.

Talk about instant mashed potatoes. Then the elk went away. I planted more potatoes.

Once the humans move in on your garden, they’ll compact the soil with heavy machinery and cover it with gravel, pavement or buildings and it will never grow food again.

It’s time to shelve outdated bourgeois sensibilities, stop the petty bickering, draw a line in the sand and choose the species that provides the most benefit to the environment.

Suggested possible solutions to the conflict between the humans and the elk have included birth control, fencing and relocation.

While a cornucopia of contraceptives has been made available, safe and inexpensive for many years, the human population continues to explode beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat and the entire Earth in general.

Building a fence or a wall to remove or exclude humans has been tried throughout history and around the world by the Egyptians, Romans, Chinese and the Germans.

Humans are sneaky varmints.

Walls have never worked anywhere.

That leaves only one plausible solution: relocation.

In the past, elk were chased by helicopters, tranquilized and loaded onto trucks and moved.

That was an extremely hazardous, expensive undertaking.

Elk are dangerous, unpredictable wild animals.

Elk on drugs are even worse than that.

Coincidentally, some of the humans in Sequim are already on drugs.

By luring them onto trucks and buses with more drugs they could be conveniently relocated to other urban centers without the expense and hassle of dart guns and helicopters.

The bottom line is that humans pose a greater threat to the future of sustainable agriculture than the elk do.

The humans would be more economical to tranquilize and relocate than the elk.

Do the math. Connect the dots.

We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected]

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