JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Westboro, Mo., farmer Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau President, presented comments before the Missouri Conservation Commission today concerning the reintroduction of elk into the state. Farm Bureau opposes the reintroduction of elk, however, in October the commission directed the Missouri Department of Conservation to proceed.
“If elk are reintroduced in Missouri, then landowners should be compensated for property damage caused by elk, like they are in most states that have elk,” Hurst told the commissioners. “To our knowledge, no other state has the conservation resources Missouri has with nearly $100 million in annual revenue generated by a perpetual, dedicated sales tax, in addition to millions of dollars in permit fee revenue, federal funding through reimbursements and grants, and private funding thorough various organizations.”
Hurst told the commissioners of the problems with elk in Minnesota where conservation officials issued a strategic management plan in 2009. Hurst said the plan notes “Elk management has become increasingly polarized and politically charged. Damage to agricultural crops and private land occurs in a number of ways, including knocking down pasture fences, damaging growing crops including grains and hay, consuming and contaminating stored forage, and damaging gardens.”
Hurst said one objective of the Minnesota plan is to improve landowner acceptance of elk. One way they are achieving this objective is to work with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the state legislature to continue a fully funded elk damage compensation program. Hurst said Wisconsin’s legislature also created a compensation program in response to concerns from the agriculture community.
Hurst closed his remarks before the commission by urging it to convene a group, which includes landowners and farmers, to develop guidelines for a compensation program for damage caused by elk in Missouri, and said Missouri Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the department toward this end.
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