Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

March 24, 2012

Reintro of elk just fine by me

2012 — OK. I’ve decided. I’m for it.

I’m for the reintroduction of Rocky Mountain elk into Almost Maryland.

I mean it’s not like we’re talking about bringing zebras into Garrett and Allegany counties. The elk were here a long time ago, like circa 1700s. It will be a homecoming. In fact, they shouldn’t even be called Rocky Mountain elk. Appalachian Mountain elk would be better.

I know. I know. There is a lot to be learned yet about the reintroduction. Things like the habitat’s ability to house the large animals. Bulls get up to 700 pounds, I’m told.

We await the imminent results of a telephone survey of Maryland residents done by Responsive Management in Virginia. Based upon those results, a habitat survey will be commenced, according to Bill Miles of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation.

That foundation, along with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are the partners in this wapiti looksee.

Finally, based upon the phone survey and the habitat survey, public meetings may or may not be scheduled. If held, we are looking at an August date.

Anyway. I’m for it.

If the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Garrett County Commission can officially oppose the reintroduction before all the facts are known then I can support it ahead of time. Besides, I waited longer than they did before coming out. Maybe that’s not the correct term, but you know what I mean.

Check this out.

I follow the Maryland General Assembly closely at this time of year, but usually click on the hunting or fishing search engine for introduced legislation. Thus, I missed House Bill 750, which, by the way, has already been defeated. I missed it because it was introduced in the public health category.

Bill Miles didn’t miss it, though. He gets paid not to miss those kinds of things.

The bill, introduced by a delegate from Baltimore/Harford counties, was intended to prohibit the release in Maryland of rats trapped in Washington, D.C.

Why anybody would want to release a rat anywhere is something I don’t understand. Probably a product of the Rats Are People Too lobby.

However, the way the legislation was written, an unintended impact would have been the prohibition of the release of wildlife, including elk, into the state.

The bill was killed in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Maybe someday in the future my phone will ring and someone will say “I saw a DNR truck drive up a road in Garrett County and turn loose a bunch of elk.” This time, they will be telling the truth.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
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