Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't let the elk starve

It is difficult to understand the reasoning that will result in starving the elk. As I noted in my letter to the editor last year, they are not being domesticated by a feeding program. The opportunity to balance the community and this wild population, native to the area, provided by the Wood River Elk Trust is very appropriate. Agencies that do not wish to participate in the program are not responsible and can preserve their guidelines.

The Community School has fulfilled its obligation to feed the elk for many years. Now a partner, the Wood River Elk Trust can reduce some of the cost and time needed to continue this program. And the school can continue to honor its commitment to feed these beautiful animals.

The elk are considered an asset in Jackson Hole and most people here also consider them an important part of the environment in Sun Valley. They are not pets. The herd is healthy and will remain so with a few months of necessary food provided during the winter months. As their traditional grazing area is now occupied by us, the feeding program will keep the elk from foraging within the community.

Remember, people are spending money on eco-travel to see and learn about wild animals. We in Sun Valley, like the resorts in Jackson Hole, can appeal to lovers of the outdoors not only with our superb recreation, but also with the stewardship of our elk.

I ask you to find a way to feed the elk during the winter, high on the ridge, which will keep the elk away from landscaping both in people's gardens and along the golf course. The opinion of the few people who are opposed to this aid to the elk should not outweigh all of the other positive reasons to sustain this herd.

It is crucial that the city, The Community School and the Elkhorn Association support this effort, right away. It is not appropriate to allow the threat of a lawsuit to bamboozle the decision makers in your organizations. I wonder what kind of publicity Sun Valley would get if a headline, "Sun Valley decides to starve local elk herd" appeared in various newspapers in the markets for our visitors. How would the special image of the area be affected?

Joyce McCallum

Sun Valley

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