September 29, 2020

Idaho Gubernatorial Candidates Have A Say About Elk Farming

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Elk seem to be big news in Idaho these days. The biggest news surrounds the escape of between 60 and 120 elk from the Chief Joseph elk ranch near Ashton, only a stone’s through from Yellowstone National Park. Governor Jim Risch ordered the elk shot on sight and has enlisted the help of hunters and landowners in that endeavor. Risch says the killing of the elk is necessary to ensure disease isn’t passed on to other wild elk and Idaho livestock. He also says if mating occurs between the farm-raised elk and wild elk it could taint the gene pool. This is mostly theory.

Also recently, another 8 domestic elk, four cows and four calves, have escaped from somebody’s pen but officials don’t seem to know from where. The animals are clearly tagged as domestic but the nearest ranch are not the owners.

In the north, Idaho officials are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to kill wolves because the wolves are killing too many elk. To this point, USFWS has rejected the Idaho plan.

With all the hullabaloo over elk, it is no surprise that the candidates for governor in this November’s election are starting to speak out. Jim Risch replaced Governor Dirk Kempthorne who left office to become the new Secretary of the Interior for George Bush. Risch was Lt. Governor. Because he had already committed to run again for Lt. Governor, a new governor will be elected this fall.

C.L. “Butch” Otter is the favored republican candidate who some believed would be completely in favor of continuing elk farming. This is what he had to say about it.

“My position has never been to seek their closure. However, I would support the legislature if it came to that conclusion based on the potential threat to our wild elk herd.”

Otter thinks that if elk farms remain, strict new guidelines need to be put in place.

His democratic counterpart, Jerry Brady, differs.

“He doesn’t feel they are truly hunting. They give a bad name to traditional hunting. They give it a black eye. They should probably be called canned shooting.”

Brady believes there is no sportsmanship in penned hunting but isn’t against elk ranching.

Obviously, Brady is talking two separate issues. There are something like 78 elk farms in Idaho and the majority of them are nothing more than farms but there are a few who raise elk for hunting. Whether the animals are raised for hunting or for agricultural purposes, they all require penning of the animals.

Eldon Golightly, an Idaho elk farmer, stands up in support of his industry. Among other things he points out that no matter what animals you enclose in a pen, they will eventually escape.

“If there are to be approximately 500 elk that are going to be shot on domestic hunting ranches this year. If the average price of those hunts are $6,000, that is $3-million brought into this state just for the hunting portion of that – let alone those other people that come with them, the other monies that are spent and the other products that are harvested from our elk farms.”

Golightly defends the elk business and doesn’t think one or two bad experiences should be the destruction of an industry that is economically beneficial to Idaho.

“We need the government, we need the Department of Ag, we need the governor’s office not to slander our industry.”

Now that an event like the one that happened at the Chief Joseph ranch has gotten the attention of the people, the politicians are sure to make it into a football.

*All posts on the topic*:

Rammell For Governor, Ranch Sold, Elk Still Being Hunted
Wyoming Governor Freudenthal Says Interior Department Not Doing Enough About Escaped ElkIdaho’s Escaped Elk Now Getting National Attention
Idaho Elk Farmer Says All His Elk Accounted For
Idaho Governor Expands Hunt For Escaped Elk
More Elk Killed In Idaho – Some By Hunters
Idaho Elk Farmer Plans To Sue The State
Scientists Will Test Killed Idaho Elk For Disease And Genetic Make-up
A Helicopter, A Plane And 25 Agents Can’t Find 160 Domestic Elk
Escaped Idaho Elk Being Slaughtered. Wyoming Ordered To Kill Elk Also
Domestic Elk Crash The Gate – Escape!

Tom Remington

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