I read the fairly disappointing article by James Goldie regarding the recently poached elk in the Lake Cowichan area.
What struck me initially was the content and headlines seemed more concerned with the health ramifications of the poachers eating the tainted meat rather than the poaching act itself.
Firstly, I think that I speak for many in Youbou and Lake Cowichan in saying “who cares” if poachers eat tainted meat. Secondly, the negligence in reporting that means that all three animals died needlessly as the meat will more than likely be jettisoned. After reading your article, who will risk eating any of it? Then three more elk will die so the poachers can replace the first three.
I am a longtime resident and firmly believe that we are in these animals’ habitat, not them in ours. Three majestic bull elk were slaughtered because they could be. By protecting these animals with little or no education to residents and visitors we have set up a perfect kill zone.
There are not any signs or available roadside information kiosks explaining this sensitive relationship. There is not even any extra effort made to warn motorists other than a few blind signs warning of elk next 20 kilometres. Even though there are areas and times of the year when the elk are all over the road. I have never witnessed the police stop and warn motorists or make any effort to deter people from stopping and stressing these animals out.
What I have witnessed many times are vehicles stopped and people out of their cars following the elk into the woods taking their pictures. The police drive by on the other side of the road and do nothing. Even though I support the Laketown Ranch and Sunfest I watched again, on Sunfest weekend, as hundreds of people drove back and forth to Youbou with elk on the road. The drivers had no clue, but those that stopped did so in droves, again the police did nothing.
I have witnessed individuals in a crane truck around Caycuse with rifles visible at 11 p.m. When I asked them what they were doing I was told “we’re looking for elk because that’s what we do”, “it’s our right”.
I have only seen one conservation roadblock in all the years that I have been up here. There are not even any signs telling people they cannot hunt the elk or that they are a protected species.
The conservation service in this province and especially on the Island is grossly underfunded; and, conservation officers are grossly outnumbered by the poachers and lawbreakers. The government is disinterested in providing appropriate resources.
So please do not tell me, as a resident, that I am “disappointed” by the recent killing of three bull elk. I am angered, frustrated and extremely upset by this act.
The killing of these bulls puts further pressure on the herd to propagate and we appear helpless to stop the poaching.