GUEST COLUMN: Missouri landowners still not sold on elk plan

Monday, September 27, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 7:22 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 9, 2010

It was like déjà vu all over again. On Sept. 21 at City Hall in Salem, the public was invited to share their thoughts on the Missouri Department of Conservation's proposal to reintroduce wild elk in three southern Missouri counties. One participant observed that a similar meeting took place in the same room almost 10 years ago when the department proposed a similar plan. That plan was "suspended" due to the opposition of landowners throughout the state.

Almost a decade has passed, but most of the meeting's participants' feelings have not changed. By a show of hands, the crowd was overwhelmingly opposed to reintroducing elk. To be fair, a few participants and a representative of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation expressed support for the plan.

The meeting was interesting in that it differed greatly from the glowing comments released by the conservation department following workshops in the proposed release area. The optimism was premature as there seems to be a division forming. Those who support the reintroduction plan believe they have something to gain by the potential for additional tourists and possibly elk hunters. Those who oppose the plan have something to lose.

Opponents' concerns include disease threats to the area's $165 million cattle industry, potential loss of life resulting from automobile-elk collisions, and damage to fencing and forages. Questions regarding the cost of the reintroduction plan and who will assume liability for damages resulting from elk went unanswered. Many in the crowd were skeptical the elk will remain in the release area, and some indicated that Arkansas landowners would be thrilled if their elk would leave Arkansas and come to Missouri.

In the end, 52 participants responded to a written questionnaire stating they oppose elk reintroduction and six indicated support for the plan. This may not be a statistical sample, but my guess is the results are a good reflection of how Missouri landowners still feel about the plan — at least the ones who have something to lose.

Dan Cassidy is the chief administrative officer for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

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Ellis Smith September 27, 2010 | 6:05 a.m.

How will the elk be restrained to a three county area, even initially (let alone after they start to multiply)? Can the elk read highway signs stating that they are entering another county? Can you equip each elk with GPS and train them to read it?

We've been through this with wolf releases in Arizona and New Mexico. Each state was given the option by the federal government of whether the state wished to participate in the program. New Mexico said they did NOT wish to participate.

Care to guess where some of the wolves that were released in Arizona ended up? They were hunted down and shot by New Mexicans.

Since the proposed "elk area" isn't far from Phelps County, can we one day expect to see elk grazing on the lawn at Missouri University of Science & Technology? Cool! Well, maybe.

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 20, 2011 | 8:29 p.m.

dgfsdg gdsgfsg - If this bunch realized that No one interrupted by this asinine attempt at advertising would ever consider spending money with them, might they stop?

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