Skagit family farmers and farm leaders explain the damage caused to farms, homeowners, Skagit County and the public by an expanding herd of imported elk which should never have been introduced into the farm area near Hamilton and Concrete.
Farmers have had to reduce the numbers of cattle, bear the additional costs of buying feed to replace what the elk are eating, and face increased liability as elk destroy cattle fences. The Skagit Farm Bureau is supporting these farmers and asking the Fish and Wildlife Department to do what the law and the legislature have required that they do: move the elk off the valley floor and into the upland wilderness where they were intended to make their home.
The valley floor where farms are located (the shaded gray area at bottom of map) is a fraction of the size of the natural elk habitat. The elk were supposed to be delivered in the early 2000s to the mountain upland area, but because of snow were dropped off in the farmland. The easy meals appealed to them and their numbers have grown to about 800 of the 2500 elk in the Nooksack herd.
Fence damage is just one of many major problems the elk cause. The damaged fences must be continually repaired as farmers are liable for any damage caused by their cows which escape through the fences damaged by the elk. The liability and continual financial cost is more than some farmers can accept.
This totaled Sheriff's Department car is one of four accidents with county vehicles alone, costing the county more than $60,000. Many more private vehicles have collided with the expanding herd. This makes this an urgent public safety issue as well as farm protection and economic issue.
Facts About Imported Elk and Skagit Family Farmers
The Skagit Farm Bureau is asking the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to follow the law and the direction of the State Legislature and manage the imported elk herd harming Skagit family farmers.
Some important facts: