Letter to the Editor

Inflexible laws allow elk to thrive Alan Young’s farm isn’t the only farm contributing to the growth of the Takhini wild elk herd.

Inflexible laws

allow elk to thrive

Alan Young’s farm isn’t the only farm contributing to the growth of the Takhini wild elk herd.

The Takhini elk herd has been making its way from farm to farm throughout the Takhini valley for the past couple of years.

I would like to set the record straight and clarify some comments made by a regional biologist by the name of Rob Florkiewicz in the February 2 Yukon News.

The comment: “Most of the land in the Takhini Valley has only been disposed of in the last five to 10 years, and when it was sold, it was pretty clear there was wildlife in the area, possibly elk.”

Florkiewicz, I hope your science is better than your geography. Your imprecise generalization of the land-disposition period serves little purpose.

I have lived on my farm in the Takhini Valley for more than 10 years, and can state with some degree of confidence that most of the land in the Takhini Valley has been under private ownership, or some sort of legal tenure, for much more than five or 10 years.

Many of the lots have been homesteaded since the ‘60s and early ‘70s and the bulk of the large agricultural parcels were disposed of through agreement for sale in the mid ‘80s, back when no wild elk were seen in the area at all.

Actually, the wild population did not start to show up until the past couple of years.

The Environment department (game branch) has realized the potential problem for a couple of years, but “the game department bureaucrats” refuse to acknowledge or accept responsibility and provide a solution.

Another comment made by our biologist, whom you’d expect to know the facts: “The elk used to spend more time on the far side of the Takhini River, but LaPrairie Ranch has been expanding its fencing to pasture its bison. The fencing excludes the elk, and may have contributed to their movement across the river.”

Come on, the farm the February 2 story focussed on is kilometres away from the LaPrairie Ranch with thousands of square kilometers of free-range territory between for the non-indigenous “not native to Yukon” elk herd.

You mean to tell me that when a farmer fences a few acres, they are going to push animals into another farmer’s field thousands of square kilometres away? Not likely. But you’re the biologist.

Another comment from our biologist: “And in the last six years, the herd has really taken off. We’re not sure why, he added.”

Well, just maybe the recent boom in agricultural produce and forage production may have something to do with it.

Wolves don’t hang around human-inhabited places much. So, if we eliminate all natural predators of the elk, feed them grain and hay and do not run them off — it is illegal because they are a protected species — because some bureaucrat doesn’t want to do anything more than look at them, what do you think is going to happen?

More comments: “Permitting hunting in the Takhini Valley, with its huge farm properties and private residences, is questionable…”

Then why do we have a deer draw for limited hunts, and hunting on farms permitted with owner consent?

And with so-called huge farm properties, where the elk are the biggest problem, you would think a person could shoot an elk with some degree of safety.

Another comment: “Do you want to have hunting in that area when you have this amazing wildlife-viewing opportunity to see, quite close?”

Why did the government of Yukon buy the Yukon Wildlife Preserve?

I seem to remember it was for wildlife viewing and educational purposes. How close do you want to be when viewing these massive animals with horns while driving down the highway? Do you want them on the front hood of your car?

It is not a matter of if, but when someone or someone’s family is killed by running into one of these elk on the highway.

A long-term solution for these animals’ multiplication and grazing or feeding locations must be put in place — and soon.

The elk are currently protected under the Yukon Wildlife Act. I assume this was done way back when they were first introduced and the numbers were very low.

I have endured elk damage in the thousands of dollars over the past couple of years, and it’s not because I neglect to care for my crops or don’t have adequate protection.

My farm is fenced throughout with countless kilometres of treated posts and wire. My crops are removed following harvest and I still have elk tearing down my fencing, grazing in my fields and in my yard for a good portion of the year.

I even hit one in my driveway once while coming home from dropping my kids off at the school bus.

What we have right now is a law without any concessions. The elk were brought into this territory by government, made a protected species, and 40 years later when farmers are feeding them because our fences aren’t three metres tall to keep them out, it’s our fault.

If we do anything about it, we’re criminals under the wildlife act. Where is the justice?

I’m not a biologist, but I am many other things including a game “elk” farmer. I think I probably know a little bit about them.

My guess is that if the government were to do as it did with deer and bison and offer a limited draw for hunting, and if the hunting were restricted to problem animals or animals in sensitive areas (animals posing highway safety concerns or farm menaces), there would be a shift in grazing locations.

They would respond the same as deer and bison. When the hunting commences, they find alternative range and move back.

In the past, farmers have been accused of restricting wildlife passage through the construction of their fencing.

I know from experience that a conventional three-strand fence does not restrict the passage of wildlife.

What does restrict wildlife passage is high-quality game fencing 2.4 metres in height, and this is what Environment’s deputy minister Kelvin Leary has suggested, in writing, that I put around the perimeter of my more than 160 hectares to keep the elk out — at $5 per running foot.

In one breath, you tell us (farmers) to put up game fencing, then you turn around and tell us that game fencing restricts wildlife movement, something we want to happen to some extent.

Please make up your mind.

If the department of Environment does feel that game-fencing all farmland to keep out their wildlife is the practical solution, then would the government be so inclined to contribute towards the cost of this infrastructure?

This situation is not at all like the southern provinces where elk are a native species; remember the government brought them here, all 148 of them.

I don’t believe the farmers are the cause of this issue and, if we are, I guess in order not to be, we should stop growing things.

All the farmers I know like wildlife and do not want to restrict the passage of the odd deer, moose or elk.

Farmers that I have spoken with would like to contribute to a long-term solution rather than avoid or deny the present issues and future implications if nothing is done.

Department of Environment, let’s see if we can all work together with a collaborative effort to come up with practical solutions and resolve this issue.


Wayne Grove

ElDorado Game Ranch


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

A Housing First building on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street will be taken over by the Council of Yukon First Nations and John Howard Society later this month. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CYFN, John Howard Society take over downtown Housing First residence

The organizations have pledged culturally appropriate service for its many Indigenous residents

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read