Even though landowners are harvesting more of the imported elk than they have in the past, they’ll never keep up with the non-native herd’s growth, says Randy Good with the Skagit Cattlemen’s association. He joined Dillon Honcoop on the Farming Show to explain how the real cost of the invasive elk’s damage is much higher than what’s been reported.

The Capital Press reports the Skagit County assessor estimates elk damage at about $1.4 million a year. 

Good would estimate the number is actually higher than $3 million annually. 

Good says the numbers for elk keep growing.

“Fish and Wildlife gives out permits and then they keep track of those numbers,” Good said. “But those numbers are really, really low.”

The Capital Press has reported that 22 elk have been shot this year compared to last year’s 15 elk at this point. 

Last year about 60 permits were handed out and about 30 elk were taken. Good says that it doesn’t help with the elk population, because so many elk are born every year. 

“Eliminating 22-30 elk isn’t going to do it,” Good said. “The elk will keep expanding.”

Good said this hazing process, or trying to get the elk to move away by killing some, isn’t working.

Good says the problem is the elk have become nocturnal. 

“On my farm, I live next to highway 20, I put two cameras up, and the elk are coming in at night,” Good said. “After sun up, before sundown are the only time we’re allowed to use our permits. We used one permit here a few months ago and I have not had an opportunity to use the other permit because the elk are not coming down here during the daylight.”

The elk are adapting to the permits and other scare tactics and have figured out they can avoid that by coming out at night. 

Years ago, USDA used a wildlife program where they came in and hazed and removed the elk during the night. 

Good believes moving the elk would be the best way to solve the problem. He says hazing the elk on the ag floor could work.

Good said the elk has caused a lot of damage to local schools. 

“The elk goes from a big, ranch farm over to the schools,” Good said. “They ruined the playgrounds for the schools.”

A Sedro-Woolley bus driver has expressed the dangers they faced while transporting students and getting close to running into elk. 

“One of these days, we hate to see it, but kids are going to get injured or worse when it shouldn’t happen,” Good said.