Missouri lawmaker wants state liability for elk

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | 11:20 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri lawmaker wants the state to be liable for damage caused to crops or cars by wild elk.

Republican Rep. Casey Guernsey is a farmer from northwest Missouri — far away from where the Department of Conservation plans to reintroduce elk in rural southern Missouri.

But Guernsey raised concerns during a legislative budget hearing Monday that elk could stray — eating corn, soybeans and alfalfa and potentially getting hit by vehicles. He asked whether the Conservation Department would be willing to reimburse people for damage.

Department Deputy Director Tim Ripperger says the agency historically has opposed efforts to hold it liable for damage caused by wildlife.

The agency expects to spend $411,000 to bring up to 150 elk from Kentucky to Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties in Missouri.


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Sam Tyler November 30, 2010 | 7:34 a.m.

On the one hand, I like the idea of having large edible game around me.

On the other hand I have seen the disasters that result from governments trying to alter nature.

On the third hand, yeah, I know. Call me Shiva. It's obvious that Guernsey's real concern is that the Elk may eat farmer's crops.

On the fourth hand, if we hold government agencies responsible for the unintended consequences of their actions, we may see a lot less action. Which is always a "good thing."

So, call me Shiva, confused.

(Report Comment)
Donna Barton November 30, 2010 | 8:08 a.m.

The people living in the area where the elk are to be introduced should not be forced to bear the financial burden that will result.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 1, 2010 | 10:30 a.m.

Let them introduce the elk, then wait until the first fatal (to humans) automobile accident occurs.

Charge ALL officers of both the public and private agencies involved in the introduction process with manslaughter; specifically, "depraved indifference to human (and animal) life." You knew that fatal accidents were a distinct possibility, yet you went ahead with your moronic plan.

Apparently both humans and elk are "expendable" so long as you get your way.

But... but... but... what about those Western states where there are elk herds. They don't charge people with manslaughter when there's a fatal accident there, do they? No, they don't, but their elk herds haven't been gone for more than a century, and no one there has arbitrarily attempted to reintroduce the species.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 1, 2010 | 10:51 a.m.

Ellis, seems to me that in these economic times, the Department of Conservation should be saving money and not engaging in such frivolous programs. I'm also reminded of the recent program to put up signs at Stephens Park talking about the monetary benefits of various trees there, which I believe was funded by a grant from the Department of Conservation.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum December 1, 2010 | 1:11 p.m.

I was just 30 minutes south of Missouri, and saw elk. They've already been reintroduced. So lame to see more haters. Typical of Missourians, "the Show-Me Hate". We did massacre them to local extinction after all, stay off your cell phone when you're driving in the deep ozarks and you probably won't hit one of a couple hundred elk.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 2, 2010 | 3:58 p.m.

Louis, that was Arkansas. They are free to waste their tax dollars if they wish. I would prefer Missouri raise cockleburs as the old saying goes, instead of using tax money to reintroduce elk. We massacred mountain lions as well, are you calling for them to be reintroduced as well?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 2, 2010 | 4:28 p.m.

Louis, I don't use my cell phone while driving. To do so would be almost as irresponsible as attempting to reintroduce a large wild animal into an environment where that animal has been extinct for about 150 years.

But I do like you writing style. Seriously, it reminds me a lot of the way I used to write - 50 to 60 years ago.

PS: The preferred food of mountain lions is deer; the principal enemy of elk is wolves. Lions tend to wait for their prey; wolves chase their prey in packs, concentrating on weaker individuals in a herd. There have been numerous TV specials concerning these documented behaviors. Would you favor introducting wolves to Missouri to control the new elk population? That would really thrill stockmen and farmers!

(Report Comment)
Justin Ritter December 2, 2010 | 5:27 p.m.

IF there are elk 30 minutes south of Missouri AND the habitat in Missouri is still naturally suitable THEN it would seem that they might make their way to Missouri on their own. Granted, that's 30 minutes by car, not elk steps.

What's the rush? Given that there aren't any wolves around to thin the herds in Arkansas, if the habitat is suitable the population in Arkansas should reach large numbers soon enough. I doubt the Arkansas elk are going to be all that concerned with merely staying in Arkansas.

Disclaimer: I am not an elk expert.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum December 3, 2010 | 1:25 a.m.

It's not "IF", it's a fact. They did a similar program near the Buffalo River in AR already.

(Report Comment)
Justin Ritter December 3, 2010 | 2:51 a.m.

@Louis. I didn't mean to imply that I doubted that there are elk in Arkansas. The capital letters were only meant to highlight my train of thought.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum December 3, 2010 | 1:11 p.m.

Woops, apologize for my misinterpretation.

(Report Comment)

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