ELK RANCHING BILL RAISES CONCERNS

July 01, 2001 11:00 pm

If you are one of those people who like your meat a little less fatty, then get ready to buy domesticated elk meat, fresh from 16 elk ranchers here in Oregon. Those 16 ranchers had enough clout to convince the state Senate to vote in favor of their bill 24-4. The vote came over the objections of the Oregon Hunters Association, the Humane Society of the United States and some environmental groups.

Currently, the 16 elk ranchers have to send their elk outside the state to be slaughtered. Most of the meat is sold to speciality stores and restaurants; the velvet antlers, meanwhile, are sold to Asia as a medical and dietary aid.

According to one elk rancher, Mike Kilpatrick, These are private animals, and New Zealands been selling elk meat here for years and years. Its not any different than salmon, crabs, plants, oysters or bees. One of the strongest supporters for making elk ranching legal has been Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day.

Those in opposition are concerned about domesticating a wild animal that has thousands of years of genetics that make it wild. And they are also concerned about the potential of spreading diseases.

We have to agree with those in opposition to the practice of elk ranching. Cattle ranchers have been facing a depressed market and dont need the added impact of elk ranchers cutting into the market especially not for 16 elk ranching operations.

Eliminating generations of genetics that make an animal wild will take more than wishful thinking on the part of those who really want to do nothing more than cash in on a speciality market. And just because New Zealanders raise elk and sell it abroad, doesnt make it right.

Perhaps our legislators should be working on more important legislation. Perhaps finding ways to help Oregons already strapped cattle ranchers would be better. But once again, we see a bill that helps a tiny number of Oregonians being pushed through the Legislature while the majority of Oregonians see more important legislation fail to get out of

committee.

We keep wondering what has happened with the Republican leadership in Salem?

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