Killing Rocky Mountain NP's Elk
They shoot elk, don't they?
They might in Rocky Mountain National Park if Congressman Mark Udall has his way. The Democrat from Colorado believes the best way to control the park's burgeoning elk herds is to authorize the National Park Service to conduct a hunt utilizing "qualified sportsmen."
Of course, killing elk in the park probably won't simulate an actual hunt. Elk in the park, after all, long have lived without predators and they're not overly concerned with humans. I've often driven past bands of elk grazing just a short distance off park roads.
"This bill does not declare open season in Rocky Mountain National Park," says Udall. "It makes sure the Park Service has the authority to allow qualified Colorado sportsmen and sportswomen to participate under strict guidelines in the elk management plan for the park.
"This is a commonsense solution to a real wildlife management problem."
Perhaps, but if this flies, what will be next? Black bears frequently come down into Sequoia's and Yosemite's campgrounds for meals, and that could be construed as a wildlife problem. Ditto with Yellowstone's bison, which at times congregate on roads in the park and have been known to gore visitors who get too close. And Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota also has a glut of elk and is pondering a hunting season.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against hunting. I just wonder whether it meshes with national parks. I mean, don't hunters aim for the biggest bulls? Aren't they the ones with the genes you would want to be passed down in the herds?
Seems to me the commonsense solution would be to return a keystone predator to Rocky Mountain and even Theodore Roosevelt, such as wolves, and let them cull the herds naturally. Of course, that proposal carries its own thicket of problems.