LETTER: Feeding elk is not helpful

I’m prompted to write by the recent Bulletin article about the RCMP reminding us that “Elk have the right-of-way”. I have been commuting regularly between Kimberley and Cranbrook for the past ten years. Highway ungulate mortality is something we accept as being a reality in the Kootenay, however as the article pointed out, this year has been particularly hazardous for elk and motorists on Highway 95A.

As everyone is aware the favored corridors facilitating elk movement between the St. Mary’s River and the upland, and necessitating a highway crossing have been relatively predictable over the years but that has changed significantly over the past two years or so.

I am not a wildlife biologist but I believe a couple of factors are at play. A few years ago several kilometres of new elk fencing appeared on the north side of the highway. This has impeded historical elk movement, funneling them to non-traditional highway crossing locations. Unfortunately a few of these sites are at unsafe locations – sharp curves or hills with reduced sight lines for example – producing nasty surprises for motorists. I don’t question the landowner’s authority to build these fences but wonder whether there is, or should be some oversight as to the implications of altering elk movements in the big picture.

While changing elk movement patterns might be something we just have to accept I am more concerned that some people believe we need to feed these animals in the winter. I have heard biologists voice the opinion that it isn’t helpful, and while I don’t personally have the expertise to comment on that, I do see how this practice contributes to the highway mortality. In too many instances I have found piles of the feed concoctions deposited in close proximity to the highway. The notion that attracting ungulates to the highway can keep them safe is a bit of a contradiction.

Lastly, I hope the homeowner in the Porteous Road/Highway 95A area does not renew their campaign to feed the elk again this year. Already this winter I have seen elk congregate south of the highway in that area, which previously hadn’t been a traditional crossing spot. Continuing the practice of feeding them close to the highway will only increase the risk to motorists and elk.

My two cents, and thanks for the opportunity to vent….

Rob MacDonald /Kimberley

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

1. Always tell your mother the truth.

2. Read, read the classic novels, e,g David Adams Richards, and then read some more – to understand the great drama of human life and express yourself correctly.

3. Since it is so likely that your children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave Knights and heroic courage. (C. S. Lewis on why he wrote the Narnia books).

4. Young adults: Don’t place the demands of the markets and your pocket book above the demands of your heart.

5. Blessed is sin if it teaches you shame; sorrow in who you are becoming.

6. Parents: never humiliate one another before the children.

7. Don’t be conceited; pretending you are other than who you are really.

8. Develop a madness for the splendour of truth in your family and it will lead you to the House of God.

9. Elderly: a praying relationship with God is a great consolation in facing the passage through death with a joyful heart.

10. All Christians: visit the Church of your Baptism once more and check for a resonance in your soul.

Fr. Harry Clarke, interim RC priest, Cranbrook.

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