Elk Are Not As Peaceable As They Appear

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Gosh: How do we put it? Try this. Go to YouTube. Look up “elk attacks.” Watch some of the clips. We did. We came to two conclusions.

Elk aren’t nearly as peaceable as they look.

People aren’t nearly as smart as they think.

So please take note of today’s story about the poor dog that got stomped to death in the middle of the night by elk that jumped a lady’s back fence on their way to a neighbor’s feeding station.

For goodness sake, people: Don’t feed the elk.

Now, don’t get us wrong: We love elk.

We’re ever so happy that after humans exterminated Arizona’s native elk they changed their minds and returned the fiercely antlered herbivores to the wild — starting with a small herd of Rocky Mountain Elk from Yellowstone National Park.

Elk have made a spectacular comeback throughout North America. Once, they numbered 10 million, but by the time the West was beaten into submission only about 40,000 existed nationwide. Today, Arizona alone has about 35,000 elk, thriving as a result of the extermination of the grey wolf from most of the state.

Now, the automobile remains the only major predator on elk. Cars hit about 1,000 elk and deer annually in Arizona, which regularly claim human lives as well. One recent tally suggested a befuddling 70 percent of Star Valley traffic accidents involve a collision with an elk, who pay no attention at all to radar speed cameras.

Most elk weigh about 600 pounds — although the big bulls can top the scales at 1,200 pounds. That means an elk doesn’t even have to be mad to kill you — or your pooch. They could just accidentally step on you — maybe not notice you there in the dark.

But bear in mind that during the fall rut, those big bulls go so crazy defending their harems that they lose 40 percent of their body weight. The poor hormone-addled bulls are so sex crazed they don’t have time to even eat.

So think about it: You really want a back-yard feeding station?

Of course, after watching the “elk attack” videos, featuring all manner of knuckleheads hazing 1,000-pound critters bristling with antlers — you have to wonder whether the human intelligence thing has been exaggerated.

But then, most of our readers are smart enough to not feed the darned elk in the first place.

Science education key to Rim Country’s future

Rim Country schools must feel like a family in a wide ocean clinging to the gunnels of a poorly constructed life raft.

State and federal officials have done a shoddy job of constructing and outfitting the vessels that must carry our children into an uncertain future. So many of the vaunted reforms promised by distant bureaucrats amount to just so many sails made of paper.

Still, here we are. We’ve got a bucket to bail. We’ve got a pair of splintered ores. And we’ve got our children on board. At some point, we need to pick a direction and start paddling.

Admittedly, that’s a long windup for observing how happy we feel that the Payson Unified School District just got a $30,000 grant from ARMERESCO to help fund its innovative and hopeful science and engineering program.

Some 48 freshmen signed up for the first-ever course, which teaches students core technical and scientific skills by giving them complicated, real-world problems to solve. The Payson Area Advanced Learners (PAAL) parents group jump-started the idea and top district administrators seized on a challenging and innovative curriculum.

Fortunately, just when the PAAL found itself struggling to raise additional money, a Tempe-based business, ARMERESCO, heard about the program and offered to help.

We hope this will prove the spark for a creative, persistent effort by the district to improve science-based education. We hope the district will make science education a defining program.

After all, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report showing that 27 of the 30 fastest-growing professions require a solid grounding in the sciences.

The ocean is wide. The boat is small. Someone should have given us a sail of canvas. But still, our own fate — and the fate of our children — remain in our hands.

We can lament the failure of the boat makers — or we can grab a paddle and set off for the horizon.

And if we’ve got a clever student on board, perhaps he can fashion a compass out of a cork and a needle.

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