Hunting elk hitting too close to home

Many, if not most, of you have had the pleasure of viewing the elk herds that occasionally may be seen lazing, grazing and just trying to exist in the Enumclaw outskirts. Over the last several years, we have lived on property that the elk frequently visit. Often they are within 100 feet of our home and our day-to-day farm activities, and go about their business with minimal interest in, or fear of, our daily comings and goings. They are basically semi-tame and have little fear of humans when compared to elk we have encountered in the wild just a few miles east of town. These herds have called the Plateau home for many decades.

Today, two men came to our house looking for a wounded elk that they said a fellow hunter had shot and not killed, allegedly with the permission of a farmer near our property. This act occurred just a mile or so from downtown. A search ensued for the wounded animal with our assistance, to no avail. We suspect the wounded creature had struggled to a hiding place to die, or to suffer for hours or days before it died. This was some “hunter.” Apparently he was not skilled enough to humanely do the job from such a close range. And if the shot was taken from a range beyond his skill level, it should never have been taken.

We are not anti-hunting, although it is not an activity in which we participate. Some of our friends are very active hunters. But if you want to hunt, then go hunt, as our friends do, honorably. Get your butt out of town and out of your pickup truck. Spend some days or weeks in the mountains doing due diligence in tracking, searching, calling, climbing, sweating and waiting. Then win or lose, at least it was a fair fight. That is hunting. What the folks who failed to execute this particular elk were engaged in was not hunting; it was clumsy slaughter, pure and simple, and they failed at that.

We suspect the cries will come from farmers who will say that their fields and fences are under siege from the elk. We suspect the cries will come from those who say they must feed their families. Truth is, most if not all of those arguments hold no water when realistic alternatives and truths are exposed. Easy arguments.

There are plenty of animals in the foothills, just five minutes away. Those animals have the wild animal instincts that hunters should have to deal with to help level the playing field. Those instincts in our Plateau herds have been muted as they have lived among us. So please, go hunt in the foothills or points east. Please do not subject the rest of us to witness the laziness, the lack of skill and the blatant lack of good taste and consideration for others and the elk that some exhibit. This was not an isolated incident. It happens every year. Others living near Enumclaw or Buckley have similar stories to tell. Those stories need to be told.

We and these majestic creatures have to coexist in the same limited areas and I am sure the Washington Department ofFish and Wildlife will not regulate as necessary. So we must self-police this activity.

We feel very blessed to live where we do. Elk bugling in the fall. Thousands of salmon spawning in the creeks. All of this less than five minutes from downtown. We will continue to be a voice for our local elk herds and do our hunting with our eyes or a camera. Thank You.

David and Kelley Ward


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