August 25, 2019

Another Case Of "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

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The state of Washington is another that does not allow farming of elk or deer. As with most states that ban this industry, the reasons stem mostly from the fear of contracting and spreading disease. Scientists believe that diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis and chronic wasting disease are much more easily contracted and spread when these animals congregate in large numbers.

Washington state is also another state that defies their own laws and practices elk farming. Many states participate in “emergency” supplemental feeding of elk herds during severe winters. What does that mean? In general terms, when winters are harsher than normal, i.e. cold and heavy snows, officials will bring in food to herds in order to lesson the degree of starvation among animals. An example of this is the Mt. St. Helens herd where last year people complained that elk were starving to death. Officials claimed the rate of starvation was no higher than what is considered normal, yet this year they have already begun supplemental feeding for that herd.

Now, under pressure from animal rights groups, state biologists are feeding the herds even when winters aren’t severe in order to maintain herd numbers that are artificially high. Even when the same scientists preach that keeping wild animals in large groups for extended periods of time will spike the chances for disease, they still do the feeding.

Now, they have gone one step further. The Seattle Times this morning has a short article that says officials there want to erect fences to contain an elk herd in the Sequim area.

Instead of moving a herd of elk that has been hemmed in by development in Sequim, wildlife managers have decided to spend about $1 million to erect fences to keep the animals out of highways and farms.

An earlier idea to move the elk out of the area was panned by the public. The fence is intended to keep the elk on public land and out of urban areas. Now the tribal and state co-managers of the herd are looking for money to pay for the fence.

This practice has been going on for centuries. It’s called farming. When farmers couldn’t contain their herds and keep them out of crops and off neighbors lands, they erected fences. The state of Washington prohibits such acts for elk and deer, yet they believe they are above the reasons they gave to prohibit elk farming. I am also sure much of the public pressure to keep the herd there is so they can maintain their own private zoo for elk.

On the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, an article there on chronic wasting disease sampling, states that Washington is a low risk state.

Washington is a very low risk state. Washington law does not allow farming of deer and elk, so we don’t have live animals being shipped around that could pose a risk, and we are far enough removed from Colorado and Wyoming that there is little chance of the disease spreading naturally to Washington.

There is no viable scientific evidence to show that a well regulated elk industry poses any threat to the public but obviously Washington wildlife officials believe otherwise…..or do they? If they believe as is quoted on the website that farming of deer and elk poses a threat, then why are they now practicing elk farming?

No state wants to contract diseases, including CWD but states should not be regulating an industry while at the same time defying their own laws. Next thing you know, the state will be selling permits to their “shooter bull” operations to help fund their farming ventures across the state.

Tom Remington

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