Thursday December 18, 2014
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Read four of the comments made by Jeanie Langham in Tuesday's Roundup regarding the elk problem. They are not entirely new, nor are they entirely unexpected, but I thing you will agree they add a new dimension to this concern.
"We have lived in our subdivision for almost 15 years and have never had elk until last summer. One morning my husband saw 17 of them on the vacant lot near us."
"It appears [AZ Fish and Game] are not willing to be proactive with the elk problem that [Darren Julian of AZ Fish and Game] admitted is becoming worse."
"There was a big article in the Wall Street Journal Nov. 3-4, 2012, “America Gone Wild,” which said, 'The total cost of wildlife damage to U.S. crops, landscaping and infrastructure now exceeds $28 billion a year, including a $1.5 billion from deer = vehicle crashes alone.'”
"Our newly planted built flower bed was totally stomped last night — more damage to contend with."
Add that to the fact that when Arizona Fish and Game recently reported that "poaching" was taking place, they said that the dead elk were left lying where they fell.
Does that suggest something you?
A couple of thoughts. First, I knew the issues that came with relocating from a metropolitan area to a rural area such as we have here. The risks of a devastating fire ( have a lot of experience there), the reality that much of the "infrastructure" frequent in metropolitan areas simply does not exist in a very rural area. But most importantly and germain to this issue, I knew that I was moving into an environment which was inhabited by a very diverse wildlife population. For someone to move into such an area and then want everything in that area "modified" to provide them with their idea of "my perfect little world" actually begs the question. Did you not do ANY research regarding these things BEFORE you made the conscious decision to locate here? If not, then here's a quarter, call someone who cares.
I have no evidence that the complaining party has taken matters into their own hands ie. killing elk. I'll leave that to Game& Fish. One thing while we are on the subject. Poaching is broadly described as the illegal "taking" of any wildlife. Most "poachers" do not simply shoot an animal and leave it. They tend to take it for consumption or use of it's parts. Those that simply kill any animal for "the fun of it" and leave the carcuss to rot are the types that even give "poachers" a bad name.
A few years ago Mrs. Langham was complaining about dogs running loose near her house. Maybe they would have kept the elk away. (:
I lived near the Pioneer Cemetery for about 5 yrs. I had Elk and javelina in my front yard, a deer hanging her head over my back fence and a raccoon in my fish pond. Enjoyed watching them. Now I have squirrls living under my house. Don't enjoy them but it really isn't the responsibility of Game and Fish to keep the animals out of peoples yards. Have javelinas here too. They cross Longhorn near McLane all the time.
In the first place the animals were here first. Does anyone think they enjoy all the people who have encroched on them? Most of the animals are here because the forests have burned and they are looking for food and water.
Love it or leave it.
Ron makes an excellent point. This ain't the city.
When you move to the country for things you love you have to face the fact that you are also going to get some things you aren't crazy about. I was born in New York City, but if I had come up here and found a small slice of what I left behind I'd be asking myself why I came.
Of course, we all understand the frustration someone feels when he or she plants something and sees it get messed up, but I think that in all fairness the solution is to think of wild animals as "neighbors" and do the same thing for them you would do for a neighbor you didn't want in your yard.
Remember? "Good fences make good neighbors."
Trying to grow things without a fence won't work. Animals will just stroll in and eat them. So? A fence. Doesn't have to be an electric fence. I hate those things. They are not country. How about a plain old chain link fence? Six feet will do, and it doesn't cost a fortune. As for stepping outside at night and spraying animals with anything short of a BAR, I do not think it is good advice, so I'd leave that idea alone. And night lights attract bugs, which attract mice, which attract rattlers. I'll take the elk.
On a practical level, I myself welcome the elk into my yard. I love seeing them and they only show up at night, so there's little reason to worry about running into one. I enjoy the fact that elk, and raccoons, and squirrels, and yes even skunks, make a trip into the yard to forage around. It's one reason I enjoy having four apple trees.
You know what's funny? Seeing that male elk standing on the road by the creek with a spread half the size of Texas. There he is, keeping a weather eye out as the females pig out on four different kinds of apples. Poor guy, he would never get a bite except for the fact that David and I pick up the fallen apples and wheelbarrow them over by the creek for the deer, javelina, and other guys who can't make it over our fence, which is only three feet high.
As to poaching, I've done a little more research, and the only things I have come across that explain numbers of dead elk found together is disease, poisoning, or someone shooting them. It could be that they are being shot by someone who got tired of a problem. If so, I hope no one asks me what to do about it because I haven't got a clue.
Maybe I'll ask the pair of squirrels that run around in the two pines in my front yard. They probably know, and those two are more fun lately than anything else up here. Must be mating season. The male is an old friend. He accepts Ritz crackers, and I do not feel that giving a squirrel an occasional handout amounts to feeding wild animals. Those two eat anything they want anyway, mostly the seeds out of every cone in those two pines, which conveniently reproduce in different years from each other. Some days you can go out there to do something and there's a regular rain of bits dropping on your head.
I forgot to ask an important question.
Ron is absolutely right. When we move up into a natural area we have to expect to bear the consequences of that choice. But look at that word "natural" for a minute. Is this area up here truly natural? Are animals allowed to roam free and reproduce at their own pace? Are natural consequences of overpopulation allowed to happen? Disease? Starvation in bad years? Harvesting by private individuals when they become a pest? Such things must be "natural;" they are the way the planet ran for many millions of years until the federal government stepped is and changed them.
Can we call this area as it now stands a truly natural area? Or is it in fact a carefully managed area, where rules that do not match the natural way of life are stringently applied to a population of humans, often against their wishes?
Look at the reported cost of damage done by wildlife, and think about the fact that but for the fact that the federal government has worked so hard, and for so long, to increase things like the deer population without taking steps to avoid damage and injury to private individuals and their property. Does the government bear no responsibility what it after all has caused?
I'll give you an analogy to help you think about it. Suppose you, yourself, were to begin raising animals on a piece of open land. Suppose that you raised so many of those animals that they began spilling over onto private property and doing damage, perhaps even injuring people. Suppose you not only did not fence the animals away from places where they could do harm, but you even threatened legal action, including prison, if someone were to dare to exercise his natural right to protect his family, his livestock, and his property by destroying animals that became a nuisance or a danger.
Would you bear no responsibility for what were after all perfectly foreseeable events? Do you really believe that someone, standing on his own land, whose property, animals, or person were injured or destroyed by your animals would have no case against you for negligence? Would you not be guilty of failing to see, and at least trying to prevent, something that was perfectly predictable? Would you have no responsibility at all? Of course you would, and you could expect action regarding that responsibility.
How then, is the federal government in no way responsible for events that it is causing? Is government allowed to do whatever it wants and bear no consequences for its acts?
As regards damage to agriculture the Arizona Game & Fish Department has had a program for yeasrs to address that. They have "Depredation Hunts" designed to remove the animals that are causing property damage to private agricultural concerns throughout the state. I'm not certain if they go so far as to impliment such an action to protect some homeowners private garden. One of the issues that arises with this subject, is quite often people want something done about the nusiance the animals cause but are adamant they do not want the animals culled. A few ststes back East tried to address the burgeoning white-tailed deer problem by using "birth-control" on th wild does in an effort to reduce the populations. They were told going in by professional game managers that the effort would prove futile. It costs millions of dollars, had no effect what so ever, and was quietly ended without any fanfare. They now permit archery depredation hunts in suburban neighborhoods to reduce the numbers of deer and of course, a dead deer is one that will never produce any more deer and add to the problem.
As regards "natural die-off", try to prevent people from "artificially supplementing" the diets of wild critters when people see them starving. They have been feeding the elk at the National Elk Preserve in Yellowstone for decades and that is the Feds doing that. No. I concur that we now have to "manage" our wildlife so that they take secondary consideration to the growing people population and the needs and desires of those people. Like most things, they are simply a resource. Once they no longer are either necessary for esoteric reasons or for commercial purposes, they will be eradicated totally without compunction.
I know you are talking about wild animals but did you know Arizona is an open range state and that if any cattle come into your yard, you better not harm them. If you hit one on the highway you have to pay for it and you don't get to keep the meat.
This may apply to wild animals also. If you don't want them on your property, FENCE IT !
"They have "Depredation Hunts" designed to remove the animals that are causing property damage to private agricultural concerns throughout the state."
I did not know that. That makes great sense. Thanks!
"One of the issues that arises with this subject, is quite often people want something done about the nusiance the animals cause but are adamant they do not want the animals culled."
Somehow, that figures.
"They now permit archery depredation hunts in suburban neighborhoods to reduce the numbers of deer and of course, a dead deer is one that will never produce any more deer and add to the problem.'
That makes good sense too.
"They have been feeding the elk at the National Elk Preserve in Yellowstone for decades and that is the Feds doing that."
Yep! That's what I was referring to.
The part that makes no sense in all this is that you can shoot out a population down to a fairly small number, and given time it will respond--and with a better, healthier population. When the population grows too large through unnatural conservations methods the result is always increased disease problems. They have BIG disease problems in the National Elk Preserve.
The fundamental problem with all this is that Congress wrote a good law back when Teddy Roosevelt et al pushed for some kind of conservation to preserve our wild areas so that future generations could enjoy what they had then, but additions to the law has allowed the pendulum to swing the other way. Now we have laws that no longer concern themselves with preservation of our wild lands for the enjoyment of HUMANS, but actually interfere with the enjoyment of HUMANS both in the wild and on their own land. As with everything else, it is extremists who create the problems.
I agree, Pat. Fences make good neighbors.
What event or problems do we have that the govt. didn't create with the help of a few selfish people giving them money and a little push?
In fact, everybody....
Take a look at the string on tobacco labeling. I think I may at long last have been able to put an idea that has nagged away at me for years into words. The three questions that are asked in that string could be asked in this one.
You lost me completely.
We are so tied up with the PSWID incident that with your permission I am going to put this string and elk "poaching"m on hold for a while. I know you all have more to say on each of them, but I think we will gain by holding onto our thoughts in the face of so many comments on something that strikes so close to home.
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