Aerial Gunning Elk?
By Todd Helms
“Can they just be gunned,” he asked, “and let the coyotes take care of the carcasses?”
So let me get this straight… southeastern Wyoming has “too many” elk and officials are trotting out ideas like aerial gunning to bring down the population, leaving the dead elk to waste? Pardon my opinion but, “how about, NO!”
I understand that elk wreak havoc on livestock producers, cutting into margins via property damage and competition for feed/resources, but shooting them from airplanes like it’s the 1950s is NOT an acceptable control measure.
The argument for it is that the elk numbers have not been controlled effectively by traditional hunting. This is due in large part to elk being quite cagey and avoiding habitats where they get hunted; which doesn’t take a wildlife biology degree from UW to decipher.
My answer? Well, some will cheer and others will jeer, but here’s my unvarnished two-part opinion. First, if you don’t want all those elk on your place, let folks hunt!
If you’re not willing to allow access to legal, controlled hunting then you have no room to complain or claim relief for damages.
Second, the State needs to vastly liberalize the harvest of these elk if they are truly a problem; longer seasons, larger quota (if any) and expanded public access to private lands. This second part of my argument is crucial to helping willing landowners keep destructive elk at bay.
If the hunting season only lasts a month, after it’s over and things have gotten quiet again, the elk will return and set up shop. However, longer seasons, think mid-August through March for example, with unlimited cow/calf tags and an option for meat donation to organizations such as Wyoming Hunger Initiative or State controlled selling of hunter donated elk meat on open markets with monies going back into State coffers, like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, just thinking outside the box here. . .
I’m just one fella putting my opinion out there for all of you to critique. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and some ideas on how to help with that overabundance of elk in southeastern Wyoming.
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