Caring for Land

Letter to editor about relocated elk causing problems to farmers in north Hastings

Dale Ketcheson, President of the Hastings Federation of Agriculture writes:

For several years now, farmers in the North Hastings area have been forced to deal with ever-increasing damages and personal stress caused by relocated elk. With fence and crop damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, they have faced these over-whelming costs with no compensation, no opportunity to minimize the damage by shooting marauding elk, and responses by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that can only generously be described as ineffective.

Now people in the Quinte area are paying to go see these "wild" elk, and donating money through various avenues for their "restoration". Some may be of the understanding that some of this money is going to help these small family farmers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, at the present time, every dollar donated and every dollar spent viewing elk contributes directly to increasing the misfortunes of these already hard-hit farmers and landowners.

I urge anyone in the Quinte area to consider this very seriously before donating money or spending money to view "wild" elk, some of which are actually being fed hay and grain as if they were in a farm or a zoo.

It also seems that the hay and grain being used to maintain these elk, and which in fact makes them that much more dependent on and accustomed to raiding farms for their survival, is being provided by farmers and farm businesses in the Quinte area. Anyone involved in providing hay or grain for "wild" elk, either through sale or donation, is contributing doubly to the misfortunes of their fellow farmers. Some of these North Hastings area farmers are being forced out of business due to the cost of damages, or by health issues exacerbated by the extreme stress the elk are causing. More will certainly follow, and if the elk herd are allowed to continue to expand, the problem will quickly move south.

For any farmer to take part in this, either for profit or out of some misguided donated efford, is absolutely reprehensible.

Dale Ketcheson, Roslin, President of the Hastings Federation of Agriculture

(613) 477-1131, (613) 242-5757