Elk group seeks support for collars

Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group member Harold Erland made a pitch to the Snoqualmie City Council on Monday, Nov. 23, asking for financial support for the non-profit’s radio collaring program.

Erland wants the city to contribute $3,500, enough for 11 collars, to be used in a study to determine how many elk live in the Valley. The elk group seeks about $60,000 to collar and track 50 elk, with the radio and GPS collars helping volunteers make more statistically relevant counts. Once a count has been made, the group can take steps to alleviate elk-cause problems in the Valley.

North Bend has already contributed $3,500 to the study.

“This is a proactive approach to public safety, to property damage,” Erland said.

Erland said local elk-caused traffic accidents have topped 30 this year. He told the council that he wants solutions in the works before elk cause more problems.

The elk population is already too big for the urban Valley — visible browse lines at Meadowbrook Farm attest to that, Erland said. Within a year or so, he expects them to be causing problems for Snoqualmie Ridge residents.

“At some point, they’ll be in every part of this Valley, eating everybody’s landscaping,” he said. “I’d just as soon have elk out in the mountains, where they belong.”

While no decision was made on the funding Monday evening, several councilmembers, including Charles Peterson and Kathi Prewitt, showed support for the project.

“I view this as a safety issue,” Prewitt said. “There have been many nights, coming back from North Bend, when you pray you don’t hit the shadow coming across the road.”

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