March 21, 2023

Wisconsin Elk Herd Saw No Growth Last Year

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That headline may be a bit misleading. The Wisconsin transplanted elk herd, which numbers around 100, saw 18 animals killed due to human related encounters. Those 18 deaths, which was a record number for Wisconsin, up from 14 last year, came from people feeding the elk at the Clam Lake/Chequamegon National Forest.

When people feed the animals, it lures them into the area. When they travel to get to the food, they cross the lakes and highways and sometimes get run over by cars or fall through the ice and drown. Officials in mid-winter this year began asking the public to stop feeding the elk. Since that time, no more deaths were reported.

DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell says he has applied for a grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to purchase and install an elk warning sign. A majority of the elk are wearing radio collars. The flashing electronic sign would work in conjunction with the collars so that anytime an elk with a collar got close to the roadway, the signs would begin flashing to notify motorists an elk was present.

So, does this logic then say that with warning signs installed, the public will be able to return to feeding the elk? I am mystified at the science behind this kind of thinking which makes me tend to believe that science is out the window in exchange for dollars and cents.

If there is not sufficient growth to provide enough food for the elk to forage and grow on their own, Wisconsin has no businesses trying to transplant elk. I sooner think this is another case of turning our wildlife and its habitat into an overgrown zoo where taxpayers can pretend they are getting back to nature by hopping in their SUVs and going for a ride to feed the elk. Where’s the nature in that?

The demands of the public to be able to see wildlife and the buckling of wildlife management agencies giving in to the demands, are turning our forests and wildlife habitat into something quite unnatural.

I can read the headlines in about 10 years, “Wisconsin officials set to slaughter 700 elk to reduce populations”, like what is happening in Rocky Mountain National Park. There just doesn’t seem to be any intelligent life left on this planet.

Tom Remington