ELK RANCHING POSES THREAT TO WILD HERDS

February 04, 2002 11:00 pm

People who support the concept of raising elk as a burgeoning industry and a way to satisfy demand for the taste of game have had their way with Oregons Legislature far too long. What a few years ago might have seemed like a harmless industry, despite testimony to the contrary from wildlife biologists, could soon take a toll on Oregons wild elk herds. The time has come for elk ranching to be banned.

Oregon voters are likely to see an initiative petition that would do just that. Oregonians can only hope that an initiative will come in time to spare our wild elk of the diseases that can be spread from ranches to the wild. So concerned are the states wildlife managers that Friday they announced plans to kill 250 deer and 100 elk to test for tuberculosis.

The threat that elk ranching presents to wild herds in the form of TB and other diseases cant be taken lightly, even if legislators arent willing to listen to the experts. A penned cow elk died on a Kimberly ranch this past fall. The elk was diagnosed with TB. The disease, if it were to spread, could decimate our wild elk herds. Eliminating disease in wildlife populations can be difficult and expensive. TB in elk can be spread to deer, cattle, scavengers and to humans who eat contaminated meat that has not been well cooked.

Elk ranchers and those wanting to get into the business apparently have the ear of the Legislature. But the Oregon Hunters Association has been carefully tracking the threat that game ranching presents to wildlife. The prospects for Oregons wildlife is not good if game ranching is allowed to continue.

If legislators dont have the intelligence to recognize the threat, perhaps Oregonians will. For the sake of Oregons wildlife, elk ranching needs to be banned.

TEAM SPIRIT

If ever there was an example of what team spirit can do, the New England Patriots victory in Sundays Super Bowl was it. The Patriots, a team without any real marquee players, demonstrated what a group of athletes committed to a cause can accomplish. They upset the heavily favored and star-studded St. Louis Rams 20-17.

The Patriots were a 14 1/2-point underdog going into the game. No one really thought they had much of a chance to beat the spread, much less win. But the New England players didnt accept the prognostications. They chose to be introduced as a team, they played like a team, and even in post-game interviews every Patriot gave credit to the team.

Just goes to show what people can accomplish when they are committed to a cause. The Patriots cause was to win the Super Bowl, against all odds. And by working together they did exactly that.