Elk Return Causes Concern in Arkansas

HARRISON, AR - A state Game and Fish Commission official says elk don't care whose land they graze on, but there are ways to reduce the impact of the large creatures on pastureland and crops, and on the fences that can fall if they get in the way of the elk.

The elk that populate the northern Arkansas Ozarks, thanks to a reintroduction program 26 years ago, are drawing complaints from some farmers.  The elk now number about 450, mostly in the valleys of the Buffalo National River and surrounding areas.  Farmers say the elk are eating hay awaiting harvest and tearing down fences as they run through the fields.

David Goad, a deputy director at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, concedes that the elk do move around within the territory they occupy.  As he put it, political boundaries don't mean a whole lot to them and they kind of go where they want to go.

Goad said a new plan being discussed by the commission would address the concerns of private landowners over the elk.  But he stressed that simply paying landowners wouldn't be the solution.  He suggested putting small pieces of PVC pipe atop barbed wire fencing, so elk could see them and know to clear the line when jumping over it.  Goad also suggested farmers could shoot rubber buckshot at the elk, which he said has had some success on driving away bears.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)