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Snoqualmie Elk Management Group looks at ways to help elk, people coexist

Valley resident and biologist Harold Erland approaches a herd of elk at Meadowbrook Farm. Erland, part of the newly formed Valley Elk Management Group, says there is room for people and elk. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Valley resident and biologist Harold Erland approaches a herd of elk at Meadowbrook Farm. Erland, part of the newly formed Valley Elk Management Group, says there is room for people and elk.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Residents of Snoqualmie and North Bend share the Valley with a herd of elk that grew by a quarter this year, and is now estimated at some 450 animals.

The close proximity of people with elk can have positive consequences, such as the delighted smiles of tourists that come to view the elk along local highways.

But the elk can also bring problems, including causing highway accidents and damaging property.

The Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group formed this year to take a close, measured look at elk in the Valley, and find ways to balance the needs of elk and people.

The group, which has met three times, has a mailing list of 75 people, but typically draws about 30 to its meetings, held at 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at the Meadowbrook Farm Interpretive Center.

Involved are representatives from King County, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend, the U.S. Forest Service, other agencies, and a wide range of residents, including business people and property owners concerned about elk. The group is creating a mission statemement and objectives, to be presented in a formal public meeting sometime before the end of the year.

“Our next public meeting will be one to let people know what the group is doing, to make sure we’re on the mark,” said group organizer Russell Link, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s district biologist, who manages all wildlife in King County. “We’re open to ideas.”

The group’s plan, to be presented to the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, will address the many aspects, good and bad, of living year-round with elk in the upper Snoqualmie Valley, Link said. Subcommittees will gather information and look at long and short-term projects, from putting out safe-driving tips to placing radio collars on elk to study their travel patterns.

Elk damage

Kelly Moe of Alpine Coachworks has seen plenty of cars totaled by elk hits. She experienced the scary situation herself last January, when she hit a bull elk during a dark drive home down Highway 202. Moe said she had no time to react.

“All I saw was a head,” she said. “His head came through the passenger side. If I had a passenger, it could have been

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