Elk Population Management

Res #: 16-22A
Number: 16
Year: 2022
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

WHEREAS the elk population has increased over the last few years in areas of the province;
WHEREAS landowners continue to be burdened with crops in storage bags and piles, fences, infrastructure, grazed pastures, and compensation is not provided; and
WHEREAS diseases, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, and parasites, such as Liver Flukes, can spread rampantly through large herds and could impact other wildlife and livestock;
WHEREAS Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation compensates producers for damages for the lost crop but does not compensate for costs for obtaining and hauling replacement feed where swathed grazing areas are lost; and
WHEREAS the groups of elk are in herds of 40 or more.
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to increase the season for antlerless elk tags for zones with high and increasing elk populations; better manage herd populations so financial impacts to agricultural and cattle producers are reduced, overall health of the elk population is improved, and the risk of increased predator populations (ex. Wolves) are reduced; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation to include coverage on crops in bags until at least January 31.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

June 14, 2022

Large winter group size may not be solely indicative of increasing elk numbers across a wildlife management zone as elk tend to congregate around sources of food during the winter months. Consequently, elk management considers both immediate damage issues at local scales and long­ term elk population sustainability across the wider WMZ landscape.

Elk hunting season dates and quotas are re-evaluated annually and are informed by several data sources representing key indicators of elk population status. As elk populations fluctuate, the ministry adjusts season lengths and hunting quotas accordingly. Over the last five years, the ministry has increased elk quotas provincially by almost 10 per cent on average per year. The antlerless elk quota in WMZ 47 increased by 60 per cent (from 125 to 200 licences) in 2020.

Harvest success remains average-to-high in WMZ 47 and WMZ 45W (i.e. the zones encompassing the RMs of Frenchman Butte and Paynton, respectively), which meets the current management objectives, and a season extension is currently not considered necessary. The ministry will continue to assess these populations and adjust in response to population changes to ensure management objectives continue to be met.

Hon. Dana Skoropad – Minister of Environment