Farmers bump up harvest of problem elk north of Seattle


MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Landowners in northwest Washington are harvesting elk at a faster pace than last year to reduce damage to farmland, according to a state Fish and Wildlife official.

The Capital Press reports that since July 1, landowners or their hand-picked hunters have shot 22 elk, compared to 15 at this time last year. The uptick comes after Fish and Wildlife said it was OK for farmers to charge hunters a fee for coming onto their land to fill a kill permit.

Skagit County farmers have complained for years about elk-damaged fences, pastures and crops. The county assessor has estimated that elk do roughly $1.4 million worth of damage annually.

Fish and Wildlife issues kill permits to farmers to scare elk away. The shootings are not intended to reduce the overall size of the region’s North Cascades elk herd.

The department will issue permits until March 31, before breaking for calving season. Landowners harvested 30 elk during the 2018-19 season. The season before that, landowners shot 16 elk to control damage.

Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager Fenner Yarborough said the pace of the harvest this year has not alarmed the department.