By Don Jenkins Capital Press
Jan 3rd, 2019 -- Skagit County Wash., farmers may report roughly $1.5 million annually in elk damage by the time a yearlong survey is done, the county assessor, Dave Thomas, said Wednesday.
"The survey is about 3/4 finished, and 77 landowners have reported losses averaging $15,000 per farm." "Some farmers submitted comments with their damage estimates", Thomas said.
"There are a lot of underlying aspects to this that aren't being reported in the survey results, the most frustrating thing we are hearing is that they're having to go out and repair fences on a regular basis."
The Elk occupy valleys in eastern Skagit County and are in a herd that Fish and Wildlife and American Indian Tribes bolstered 15 years ago. Elk were rounded up around Mount Saint Helens, trucked to Skagit County and released in hills. The herd grew and elk moved down onto private land.
Farmers say elk are eating food crops and livestock forage, damaging pastures and destroying hay bales, as well as breaking down fences. State lawmakers directed Fish and Wildlife to get elk off farmland. The department has not had any apparent success.