Treaty tribes speak up against politics in elk management

Yesterday, treaty tribes spoke up to oppose a bill that would move the approval of a regional elk management plan to the legislature.

SB 6199 would move the locally developed plan, with significant work by tribal co-managers and the local community, to the legislature for approval. This is an unnecessary step to politicize a plan based on sound science and policy, according to testimony by treaty tribal representatives. You can watch the testimony given by tribal representatives here.

Shawn Yanity, vice-chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe said:

Since time immemorial, tribes have relied on wildlife populations, especially elk. They have sustained our culture and way of life.


A concern that we have about this bill is that it is very burdensome, it is counterproductive, damaging not only to the relationships with the tribes and DFW but also with the agriculture community who the tribes have been working with on wildlife populations.

Treaty tribes have spent years trying to build up that herd and also mitigate its impacts on local landowners, as described in this piece from September 2014:

Many property owners with agricultural lands in Skagit and Whatcom counties have experienced elk damage as portions of the North Cascades elk herd move into the valley floor seeking easy forage opportunities. Point Elliott Treaty tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), along with other interested agencies, understand the impact damaged or lost crops have on private landowners and are seeking solutions to solving elk-related damage issues.


However, minimizing elk damage does not have a one-size-fits-all solution.


Last year, the Stillaguamish and Tulalip tribes helped an Acme dairy farm install a three-strand electric fence to keep elk out of the pasture. When the elk jumped through the top two strands, the tribes improved the Coldstream Farm fence by making it five strands. The five-strand fence has successfully deterred the elk from the property and tribal natural resources staff returned in June to help fence an additional pasture of more than 100 acres.

Other North Cascades elk coverage:
40 Elk moved from Mount St. Helens to North Cascades
Point Elliot Tribes track North Cascades elk herd
Nooksack (North Cascades) herd continues to recover