An Alberta elk herd introduced in central Ontario in 2001 with a provincial pledge for population control has led to “devastation” on local farms, according to local and provincial farmers’ groups.
“If something isn’t done soon to solve the elk problem, we will all lose our farms,” Lynn Davis, farmer and director of the Hastings Federation of Agriculture, said Thursday in an Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) news release.
Ontario’s ministry of natural resources (MNR) introduced a herd of 120 elk to the area at Bancroft, about 110 km north of Belleville, and promised a population management plan if the herd rose past 250 animals, OFA said.
“With over 500 elk now roaming the area the herd has more than doubled MNR’s control trigger, and nothing is being done to control it or compensate farmers for their losses,” Davis said.
“In this severe situation farmers are losing thousands of dollars every year,” OFA president Geri Kamenz said in the release. “We feel elk need to be part of a provincial wildlife damage compensation program for crop losses; currently none exist.”
“I’ve tried everything to keep them away from my crops,” said Bancroft-area farmer Dave Parks in the OFA’s release. The elk “break down fences letting my cattle out, trample guard dogs and walk right up to my fake wolf caller which MNR put in to scare the elk away. All it did was draw more wolves to the area causing farmers to lose their sheep.”
Parks said he now makes trips out to his fields at 3 a.m. to try to scare the elk away from eating what little crops he has left. “If I don’t do everything I can to keep them out, they’ll take over the farm,” he said.
“A farmer has no way to protect his or her crops from Elk
invasions,” said Davis, who also farms in the Bancroft area. Elk visit farmers’ fields at least twice daily to eat crops and livestock feed and to trample and make beds among the grain fields, he said.