Elk herds horn in on cattle pastures

From The Westerner Blog

The mild winter in Western Oregon has produced plenty of green pasture forage for livestock, but some elk herds are also loving it.

The elk rest and relax during the day in nearby forested area and then dine on the green grass during the night. Many of the ranchers who own those pastures and the livestock are not too pleased with the wildlife intrusion.

“They’re robbing feed that is intended for livestock,” said Veril Nelson of elk. Nelson is the owner of a red Angus operation east of Sutherlin, Ore. His pastures have had many nightly visits from a herd of 50 to 60 elk over the past couple of months.

“One of those mature elk weighs as much as a yearling cow, 600 to 700 pounds,” the rancher said. “They certainly eat as much as a yearling beef animal. They hide in the timber during the day to rest and ruminate, then they’re back out at night, eating enough for a 24-hour meal.”

Tim Miller of Siletz, Ore., runs cattle on five properties. He said he has elk issues at four of those locations.

“If I can’t keep the elk out, I’m a month later getting the cattle onto those pastures,” he said.

Miller is working to keep the elk out. He has built 6-foot electric New Zealand fence around two of the pastures and is in the process of fencing a third property. He has also obtained a hazing permit. Those permits allow ranchers to run or scare off wildlife with vehicles or shotgun blasts.

Craig Herman, a rancher in the Bandon, Ore., area, is chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association’s Private Lands Committee. He said there has been “a lot of frustration” with elk herds on private property. He explained in addition to losing pasture forage, fence damage caused by elk is also a major issue and expense for ranchers…more




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