ALBERTA

Alberta Elk Running Roughshod Over Farmers' Property (TWEET)

10/07/2014 07:28 EDT | Updated 10/07/2014 07:59 EDT

This is how elk say, "na-na na-na boo-boo."

First they trespass on Alberta farms, break fences and eat the crops.

Then, when farmers confront them, they run away to the relative safety of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield, which the public can't access, The National Post reported Monday.

There, their numbers grow, creating only more potential for destructive behaviour on nearby farms.

That's the issue facing Jeff Lewandoski, one of a number of southeast Alberta farmers who feel the animals are totally out of control.

"They will stand on the other side of the fence and almost taunt you like they know that they are safe," he told the newspaper.

The elk population has spiked after the province and Canadian Wildlife Services brought 132 of the animals to the area to replace feral horses in the 1990s, The Medicine Hat News reported.

The Canadian Forces felt that the elk would be a good fit for the area's ecosystem, believing that they could help manage its grasslands, CBC News reported last year. They promised farmers there would only be 800 at most.

But the population has ballooned to as many as 6,000 on the base, though farmers estimate there could be as many as 10,000 in the region. As many as 45 elk enter Lewandoski's property every day.

"I would rather have 7,000 gophers than 7,000 elk, because those elk do a lot more damage," he told the network at the time.

Culling the elk has been floated as a solution, but even that has difficulties, Bob Olson, reeve of Alberta's Cypress County, told the Medicine Hat News.

A deer cull which took place along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border in 2007 remains controversial today, as a number of people in the area did not like the way it was handled. Some felt it was a "slaughter," The Canadian Press reported.

"The question is, do you want more elk or do you want more hunters," he said. "The answer to that is we'd rather have neither."

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