Officials concerned about elk population |

Officials concerned about elk population

The size of Moffat County elk herds has grabbed the attention of county and state officials.

Beverly Rave, the northwest district manager for the State Board of Land Commissioners, will present a report to the State Land Board in Denver today concerning the size of Moffat County elk herds.

“It’s a research project to determine if the elk are causing resource damage on our land,” Rave said.

The report, which is based on numbers from the Division of Wildlife, concerns the number of elk in the White River and Bears Ears herds.

Rave said there were multiple counts of the herds and that not all of them match. She declined to specify how the counts differ or give specifics of her findings before today’s presentation.

The Moffat County commis-sioners signed a letter to the Land Board at Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting, encouraging the board to work with the Division of Wildlife to maintain elk herd sizes that do not harm livestock grazing.

The letter described elk populations as a “double-edged economic sword” because the hunting industry relies on them, but if the herds are too large, they can damage the ranching industry.

“This is an ongoing battle,” Commissioner Darryl Steele said about controlling elk populations.

The commissioners decided at Tuesday’s meeting to send the letter to the Bureau of Land Management and the Division of Wildlife, as well as the Land Board.

Commissioner Tom Gray said the commissioners drafted and signed the letter because they were concerned the herds were exceeding the Division of Wildlife “objective” population.

The objective population is the number of elk the Division of Wildlife deems appropriate for a given area.

Gray said he also was concerned that rather than trying to get the herd down to the objective size, the Division of Wildlife could change the objective population to accommodate more elk.

Moffat County Natural Res-ources director Jeff Com-stock said he spoke with Division of Wildlife and they did not plan to change the objective size for either herd.

Division of Wildlife representatives could not be reached for comment.

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