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(The Columbian ) In our view Feb. 17:
Allow Feeding Of Elk

Allowing Mount St. Helens elk to die of starvation seems unthinkable, yet a bill making its way through the state Legislature would make it a crime to feed them.
        House Bill 1885 is considered a form of management, to keep the herd size down so it can survive on available forage in the Toutle River Valley. Increasing elk hunting tags is another herd education "tool." Mark Smith, owner of Eco Park Resort near Mount St. Helens, has fed the herd of up to 80 animals 30 to 40 tons of hay during winter months.
        Smith told The Olympian newspaper that feeding is not the solution for an overpopulation of elk in the area. "But I'm not in favor of using starvation as a management tool," he added. Smith, his family and other volunteers have fed the elk the past three winters.
        Passage of the misguided HB 1885 would stop this aid. The bill "Makes it unlawful to intentionally feed … wildlife" identified as bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, deer, elk, turkeys, raccoons, opossums and skunks.
        Smith and his helpers merit high praise for feeding the elk. Smith notes man-made changes destroyed habitat along the north fork of the Toutle River Valley. He said hungry elk are also easy targets for poachers along a highway that runs through their range.
        Allowing elk to starve is irresponsible management. Smith wants to see an elk research center and a winter feeding program along state Highway 504 for the next 5-10 years, until herd and habitat is brought into balance.
        It makes sense, and ought to receive immediate attention from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Starvation is cruel and inhuman. Majestic Mount St. Helens elk deserve better treatment.

The Mt. St. Helens Preservation Society is dedicated to preserving our natural resources and human heritage in and around the Mount St. Helens Volcano National Monument. After the May 18, 1980 eruption, the area around the mountain has been under tremendous change and controversy. This organization was formed in an attempt to maintain and preserve the area.

We are dedicated to the preservation of all WILDLIFE in and around the area by working with all agencies for controlled permit harvesting and game management for all people. We work to document the increase in poaching and malicious shooting, animal cruelty and wastage of game.

Our "ADOPT AN ELK" program aims to help prevent elk from starving to death during the harsh winters. Your tax deductible donation helps buy hay with alfalfa.

We work to control GARBAGE AND DUMPING by patrolling in and around the Mt. St. Helens area (including the Mt. St. Helens Tree Farm) for illegal dumpsites. We have participated in two major clean-up programs during the summer of 1999, but illegal dumping continues to be a major problem in the area.

Ready to spread fertilizerWe are working with state and federal agencies to aid the RESTORATION OF SALMON AND STEELHEAD to the rivers and tributaries of the North Fork of the Toutle River.

We are building a network of volunteers to record and report all vandalism to equipment, buildings and the forest in and around the Mt. St. Helens Area. This includes scheduling night patrols.

By working with private, country, state and federal agencies, we are involved in PLANNING FOR PUBLIC ACCESS AND RECREATIONAL USE for today and tomorrow. We are currently putting together a proposal for a new trail up the south side of the North Fork of the Toutle.

None of this gets done without the help or support of people like you.

If you are interested in any of the topics listed above and would like to be part of the solution, please attend one of our meetings (see the Calendar page.) You don't have to live in the local area to become a financial core member; just go to the "JOIN US" page and fill out the membership application. If you would just like to make a financial donation to further our efforts, we're happy to tell you it is tax-deductible!