Quotas for hunting elk must be raised to help farmers

Elk are so strong that they go through fences that keep deer out.

Quotas for hunting elk must be raised to help farmers

I am writing in support of the farmer who wrote “Roosevelt elk do not belong on farmland in Cowichan”. The elk in the Cowichan Valley are exploding in growth and Mr. Groenendijk’s complaint is not the only farmer that has complained about damage done by elk to their fields and to their farms.

Another old farming family in the Valley told me that not only their fields have been trampled, but vegetable gardens and fruit trees are attacked with vigour notwithstanding the fences that surrounds them. Elk are so strong that they go through fences that keep deer out. This multi-generational farm family have had many hay rounds destroyed. These rounds not only feed their cattle but are part of the farm revenue they depend on. The plastic covering these rounds is tough but it does not deter the elk. The elk work at the plastic until they tear it, then throw the hay around with their horns, then stand and defecate on the hay while they eat rendering it useless.

I am strongly in favour of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and greatly appreciate the bountiful amount of green space the Cowichan Valley farms provide. However, limiting the lands’ use strictly for agriculture and not allowing subdivision, extra dwellings and so on is only acceptable if the government supports farms and the farming culture that takes place in the Cowichan Valley.

Long term we as a society are looking at a food crisis if these elk are not culled. Farming is hard work for not much return and there must be support for farmers. If farmers become discouraged, their children won’t take on the farms, the land will be sold and not worked, and the beautiful rich soil of the Cowichan Valley won’t be used to feed us.

One hundred ten years without elk in this area allowed farmers to feed the Valley and nurture their land, and surely we can all recognize how discouraging it is for someone who loves their land and is a good steward of it to see unparalleled and sometimes unrepairable damage done to their farm.

The government is not managing the Roosevelt elk on Vancouver Island. Flying over land counting elk during the day doesn’t work as most elk are bedded down under the trees sleeping as they are nocturnal feeders. Why is the government not talking to our local farmers who have firsthand knowledge of the numbers in herds on their property?

Most hunters are food hunters, not trophy hunters. They feed their families, neighbours and friends with this meat. White, as well as indigenous hunters respect animals, are careful with their shots and are grateful to be able to put healthy meat on their tables. Raising the quota on the elk in the Cowichan Valley will help the farming families of our Valley to stay viable.

Carol Money

North Cowichan

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