Elk population flourishing in Ontario not good news for all

    GUELPH, ON, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - When most Ontarians think of elk, images of
the Rocky Mountains often come to mind. Many are unaware of the elk population
explosion happening in Central Ontario since the Ministry of Natural Resources
(MNR) introduced an Alberta herd in Bancroft in 2001/02. Even more are unaware
of the devastation they cause local farms.
    "If something isn't done soon to solve the Elk problem, we will all lose
our farms," says Lynn Davis, Farmer and Director of the Hastings Federation of
Agriculture. Davis is one of many Bancroft area farmers who witness the damage
caused by the growing elk herd every day. Elk visit farmers' fields at least
twice daily to devour crops, eat livestock feed, trample and make beds among
the grain fields. "A farmer has no way to protect his or her crops from Elk
invasions," says Davis.
    Dave and Penny Parks who grow grain crops and raise cattle near Bancroft
are one of the hardest hit farms. "I've tried everything to keep them away
from my crops; they 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," explains Dave Parks. Parks is visited by hungry elk day and
night. He even makes trips out to the fields at 3 a.m. to scare them 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."
    The MNR first introduced 120 elk, promising a population management plan
would take effect if the herd surpassed 250 animals. "With over 500 elk now
roaming the area the herd has more than doubled MNRs control trigger," says
Davis, "and nothing is being done to control it or compensate farmers for
their losses."
    OFA supports the fair and humane treatment of all animals and continually
engages farmers in wildlife and habitat protection. "In this severe situation
farmers are losing thousands of dollars every year," says Geri Kamenz, OFA
president. "We feel elk need to be part of a provincial wildlife damage
compensation program for crop losses, currently none exist."

    The Ontario Federation of Agriculture will work collaboratively towards a
    profitable, sustainable future for Ontario farmers.

For further information:

For further information: Contact: Geri Kamenz, (613) 720-2435; Bette
Jean Crews, (613) 921-0597; Don McCabe, (519) 331-6175

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