"The Elk Arrive" (The Observer, Dec. 16) provides information about 10 local elk feeding stations operated by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Elk are fed to keep them out of ranchers’ haystacks. Many ranchers graze cattle on public lands in summer while their lower private land grows hay.
As noted, elk are highly adapted to survive winters by pawing through snow to grasses. But when cows eat the grass, elk are forced into the valleys and will quite naturally eat from haystacks. To prevent that, elk numbers are controlled through various hunting programs. The sale of elk tags is lucrative for ODFW. Thus government feeding stations, paid for by tax dollars, are run to benefit ranchers and ODFW. Elk are fortunate to have economic value for ODFW.
When wolves kill or harass livestock all hell breaks loose. Ranchers howl and get reimbursed. ODFW condemns repeat offenders to death. After all, there’s no money in wolves. In an unregulated capitalist system only profit has value.
Respect for diverse species and healthy ecosystems is not yet prioritized by most people, particularly lawmakers taking funding from big business. For that reason, basic ecosystems are unraveling everywhere. See Norm Cimon's Other views column "Cheatgrass will take over Owyhee" (The Observer, Dec. 16).
There's a steep price to be paid for such bedrock ignorance and greed. Worldwide news is chronicling it today.