In January of 2018, I wrote to the Wallowa County Chieftain about the elk damage problem in the lower Wallowa Valley and what I considered the lack of an effective management policy. In fact the problem of elk invading private irrigated crop land is growing over the entire Northwest.
I invite interested readers to read the Our View Editorial in the Capital Press issue of January 11,2019, titled “Its not the farmers’ job to feed the state’s elk." In fact it would be educational if this editorial were actually reprinted in the local paper.
Even though the 2017-2018 winter proved to be mild the summer elk population in the lower Valley has grown. More than 50 cow elk elected to utilize the lower valley as their calving yard this past summer. They arrived in May and stayed the entire summer. This year major herds of 150 to 275 head began coming to the irrigated pastures on August 1, about 15 days earlier than the past 20 year average. These numbers continued until the first Bull season. On a few occasions over 400 head were observed.
An hour long meeting with Game Department officials did not result in any new plan or ideas to address this problem.
I was issued special depredation tags so at least five families will have a freezer full of meat for the winter. Not much of a solution for management.
As I wrote in my January 2018 letter, “I am not holding my breath.”