Sharpshooting debated as method to reduce Idaho elk numbers


TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The growth of the elk population in parts of Idaho has caused state wildlife officials to step up efforts to reduce the number of animals damaging private property with various methods, including nighttime sharpshooters.

Idaho Fish and Game said wildlife officers killed 206 elk last year in an effort to prevent the animals from eating thousands of dollars worth of crops, The Times-News reports.

Some hunters said Fish and Game should have used sportsmen to shoot the elk instead of allowing sharpshooting staff members to elk grazing at night.

Fish and Game officials said they cannot allow hunters onto private land without permission, and many landowners are reluctant to allow hunters onto their property.

Night hunting also is illegal by private citizens, preventing the state from using hunters as sharpshooters to kill the animals.

Hunter Byrd Golay said he is working with Republican state Sen. Lee Heider to prevent Fish and Game personnel from killing elk.

Even if nighttime sharpshooting does prove to be effective, Golay said he believes the department should not be allowed to kill elk while hunters are struggling to find them.

“It’s not fair to the sportsmen, it’s not fair to the elk and it’s not fair to the public,” Golay said.