Urban elk relocated using trap

I've been following the story of the Roosevelt elk living off Foothill Road in Medford, but I haven't heard anything lately. Is the state still trapping and removing them?

— Robert R., e-mail

This winter's trapping ended in February when the elk started getting pretty skittish around the traps, says Steve Niemela, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist charged with trapping them.

Niemela was able this winter to trap and relocate 14 elk before that, he says. One elk collapsed and died inside the trap, Niemela says.

This is the third year that ODFW biologists have tried to trap and relocate some of the urban elk living along the edge of northeast Medford to curb damage to land and reduce public-safety hazards of having Oregon's largest land mammal running across Foothill Road.

The traps are large pens baited with donated pears. The elk are fed regularly with pears until trap night, when Niemela hides nearby and electronically triggers the gate to close when a half-dozen or more elk are in the trap.

Niemela considers this year's thinning effort to be a success, in part because 11 of the animals were shot and killed by landowners who received special permits to kill elk causing damage on their land.

That program, Niemela says, is a "more sustainable way" than trapping to keep the so-called Foothill Herd from growing unmanageably large.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.

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