Two elk shot north of Finland

If the hunting lobby wanted good publicity, this certainly was not the way to go about it.
Sometime late Saturday night, someone shot and killed two elk near a sideroad in Richardson Township. In the process, a calf was left orphaned, whose chances for survival are about nil without its parents to protect it from wolves and bears.
Richardson Township resident Chris Gallinger spotted the carnage early Sunday morning and immediately notified the OPP, who then contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“I’ve been watching them for nearly three years now,” said Gallinger. “They’re so pretty to watch.”
Gallinger, an avid hunter herself, said she discovered a bull elk lying partly in a ditch less than a mile-and-a-half from her property north of Finland while the cow was in a field a short distance away.
“One of them was wearing a [radio] collar, so there’s no way anybody could possibly mistake them for something else,” she said. “There are signs all over the place telling hunters the elk are here and they are protected.
“This is so wrong.”
Gallinger said it appeared to her that someone had tried to drag one of the animals out of the ditch, but then abandoned the effort. Later, she said she saw a calf approach the fallen cow and try to get it to rise.
“The baby came back and kept bugling and nudging the momma,” she recalled. “I was bawling by then. It was so sad.”
The two adult elk probably were part of a group brought in from Alberta that were released near Cameron Lake in 2000-01, said MNR enforcement supervisor Doug Gibb, who was as upset as Gallinger by the carnage.
“I don’t think there’s any chance this was a case of mistaken identity,” said Gibb. “We know they were shot and it was no accident.”
There were no suspects as of press time.
Elk once were native to Ontario but by the late 1800s, they were virtually exterminated due to unregulated harvesting and habitat changes. During the 1930s and 1940s, attempts were made to reintroduce them, but those proved to be unsuccessful.
Only two small herds in the Burwash and French River areas managed to survive, but their small numbers provided insufficient genetic diversity to support a thriving population.
So in 1997, a plan was implemented to stock six areas of Ontario with healthy animals from Elk Island National Park near Edmonton.
During 2000 and 2001, a total of 104 elk were reintroduced in the Lake of the Woods area. Seventy-three of these animals were fitted with VHF radio collars to enable researchers to monitor their movements.
In a survey conducted back in April, it was estimated there were 85 animals remaining from that initial group—not including calves born since then.
There also are several elk ranches in Rainy River District, but these animals are genetically distinct from the wild stock released by the MNR and do not interact with them.
Gallinger said she often saw the elk, which seemed to move in a predictable pattern near her property, and considered them part of her extended nature family.
“I am really, really mad about this,” she fumed. “If people aren’t going to pay attention to the rules, they should hang up their firearms.”
Although she holds a deer tag, Gallinger has never shot one. She says she prefers to just look at them through the scope on her 30-30 Winchester.
“My sons take me out and leave me at a spot while they walk the bush,” she noted. “I’ve had deer walk right into my sights, but I’ve never been able to pull the trigger.
“Now I suppose I never will.”
To help re-establish a herd, elk are protected by law and there is no open season in Ontario. That’s why the MNR is so anxious to catch the perpetrators.
Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact Moose Watch at 1-866-346-6673 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
These lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
(Fort Frances Times)