After last year’s big breakout of elk at Rex Rammel’s elk shooter bull operation SW of Yellowstone Park last year, and lesser incidents, it is expected that up nine bills will appear in the Idaho legislature this year to better regulate the operations or maybe to abolish them.
Supporters of elk farms say that the analysis of the escaped elk that were shot after Governor Risch’s order showed no disease. That was true, but one elk seems to have actually been a red deer (a European species closely related to elk).
Montana and Wyoming governors have complained about the disease threat these Idaho farms pose to wild elk in the three state area. Sportsmen too seem highly concerned about the farms, especially the “shooter bull” operations, where make believe sportsmen shoot trophy elk up against a fence.
A new wrinkle on elk farms has appeared in Bannock County, above Pocatello, Idaho, where I live, pointing to the need for regulation. Most folks believe, as did I, that these farms are relatively expansive in size and that the state Department of Agriculture regulates them to some degree.
However, one elk farm has cropped up in the Pocatello (mountain) Range in an area of 5-acre homesite parcels. The operator of the place has his elk on 2 or 3 acres of his 5-acre ranchette. I’ve heard, but not confirmed that his permit is for about 15 elk, but there are usually far more elk on the small enclosed operation.
Few people know of the operations’ existence (at least until the local newspaper did a story on it), but it raises the specter of unregulated, backyard elk enclosures showing up around the state. There might even be more in the general area where I live, yet to be revealed.
While Idaho’s Governor Risch was aggressive on the matter of elk farms, etc., Idaho’s newly elected governor “Butch” Otter, said during the campaign that he would let the legislature take the lead.