A bill in the Missouri legislature could hold the state’s conservation department financially responsible for any property damage done by wild elk.
That could be disastrous.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is currently planning to re-introduce elk into the southern part of the state this spring. Several eastern states have successfully brought elk back after absences of more than 100 years.
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Such a law that holds the wildlife agency responsible for the actions of wildlife could be very problematic.
It obviously could take huge amounts of funding to reimburse landowners for things like crop damage or fences.
It could also lead to law suits from those wanting compensation for damage done by other kinds of wildlife, like deer.
And what happens if someone dies in an elk/vehicle accident? The department could be sued for millions.
Several years ago some southeast Kansas brothers tried to get the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to compensate them for what they claimed was tens of thousands of dollars in crop damage. Some legislatures backed their attempt until it failed.
The farmers had long been issued depredation permits to protect their crops yet they were highly protective of who they’d let hunt their lands.
Wildlife and Parks has denied requests to establish elk populations outside the one within Fort Riley. They’re working with landowners to control or eliminate elk herds that have popped up in some parts of Kansas, including a herd of several dozen along the Arkansas River in far western Kansas.