Meadowbrook Elk and People

Letter to the Editor

On a recent drive to Montana to go hunting, several of us talked about the times we hunted ducks on the Meadowbrook Farm before school, after school and during the weekends. In those days, there were a lot of ducks, but no elk.

We discussed the large elk herd that has established residence on this land. I made the statement that in the near future, there would be a dangerous situation for people during the fall rut when the long awaited trail system is developed by the Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association.

The large heaps of ground-up wood and bark donated by North Fork Enterprises Inc. will be used to start building the trail system. The trails will bring people very close to elk during the six to eight weeks of fall rut. There are approximately 60 to 120 elk visible at different times of the day. This large group contains several mature bull elk.

Reading the Great Falls Tribune in Helena the next day, Oct. 19, 2006, there was a front-page story about bull elk chasing and pinning people, plus damaging cars, in Yellowstone: “This year’s rut – that six- to eight-week period of time when bull elk breed the cows – was typical: elk attacking vehicles, elk pinning people to the steps and cantankerous bulls chasing amateur photographers.”

We all like to view the elk. They are a magnificent animal, but how many are enough? There are satellite herds being established all over Snoqualmie Valley. Yards, gardens, flower beds, fruit and ornamental trees are being destroyed. Golf courses and Christmas tree farms are routinely damaged.

You hear the justification for their wanton destruction that they were here first. I have not researched or documented proof to this statement. Many Valley residents with longevity going back to the 1920s and 1930s say that the elk were imported into the area about 1934 and are not native to Snoqualmie Valley.

Who is responsible for the rapidly increasing elk population in Snoqualmie Valley? What can be done to prevent serious injuries to people, vehicles and property? Build the trails and people of all ages will use them from daylight to dark.

What plan will the Meadowbrook Farm Preservation Association have during the rut season? When the full trail system is in place, will people and elk be compatible?

The cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie financially support the association. What responsibility do they, county and state agencies have for managing the growing elk population within city limits and the surrounding lands and parks? What is the elk-carrying capacity for Snoqualmie Valley? When will it be reached or has it already? Is there a situation developing where serious injuries may occur from people and elk encounters?

Fred A. Lawrence

North Bend