Elk Hunting Methods Controversial

I didn’t see it in the Spokesman-Review online, but the West-side online newspapers were lit up today with a controversial elk hunt in Concrete, Washington.  It started at ten this morning when the Skagit Valley Herald posted an article about a group of bow-hunters who killed six elk in a farmer’s field.  You pretty much need to read the article to understand the matter, but basically the farmer let any hunter shoot elk in his pasture.  The elk just ran around from one end of the fenced area to the other while unskilled hunters shot the elk with arrows.  It happened right within a few feet of the state highway 20, and I am sure it attracted a lot of attention.  It is interesting that the Skagit Valley Herald had a reporter on scene but did not post any photographs online.  To truly understand the spectacle from a visual point of view, you need to see this site.  The site is a series of photographs posted on SmugMug.com, a service similar to Flickr.com.  The photographer posts captions explaining what he or she saw.  The photographer mentions that he or she removed certain photographs at the request of people in the pictures.  This is interesting because the photographer had no legal duty to do so.

I don’t know a lot about hunting, but the incident raises a lot of questions.  I guess the background to the story is that the State Fish and Wildlife Department authorized additional hunts in the area because the elk herd was posing a danger to vehicle traffic.  Elk are much like moose in that they are large animals with a high center of gravity that pose a deadly threat to motorists.  The use of private hunters to address a problem through special hunts seems to be the way the State handles such concerns.  I remember that in the city of Republic, in Ferry County, it was suggested that nuisance deer be removed through the same manner.  The city opted instead for the deer to be relocated to the Colville Indian Reservation.  That was probably a wise choice because I am sure the local residents would not appreciate bow hunters’ messy work within city limits.

What do people think of this elk hunt?  The game agent who was quoted indicated that he did not like the activity but that it was legal.  How should the laws be changed?  Is it even possible to craft a law that spells what sort of hunts would be unsporting?

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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