Urban Wilderness Conflict

As Boise continues to grow houses into the foothills and desert surrounding the city, look for more incidents involving wildlife like Wednesday’s elk chase.

The GUARDIAN editor spotted a deer standing in the middle of Federal Way near The Depot and the Capital-Vista intersection this summer.
In a nutshell, at least 5 elk wandered into the east end of town along Warm Springs Ave. Before it was over, one young bull ended up being chased by city cops along with Fish and Game cops all the way to the bench near Curtis Road and Cassia.

One Boise copper popped of two rounds from a handgun injuring the two point bull. After it was stopped, Fish and Game officers fired a tranquilizer into the animal which was later humanely killed.

Growthophobes will attribute the incident to civilization intruding on traditional habitat of the wild critters. Others claim the drought is causing the beasts to invade the city. Chief Mike Masterson told the GUARDIAN his officers have handled complaints of everything from deer and bear to cougar. They figure it is just a matter of time before there is a dispatch to dispatch a wolf.

It takes a big gun to bring down an elk in a timely manner. Conversely, it is dangerous to use high powered rifles in the city and not a “clean” act to pump rounds from handguns into the big beasts.

One of the Fish Cops said there was, “Grave concern it had become a significant threat to public safety.” Masterson backs up his officers. The big concern from officials was the proximity to the freeway and the potential for a collision with a car. Was there really a threat?

While we admittedly are looking at this long running incident (several hours, several miles) with the benefit of hindsight, we just don’t see the need to chase all over town after an elk.

The cops don’t shoot loose horses or cows which pose the same threat when they wander onto the roads.

Idaho Falls often has moose wandering the streets in the winter. At Banff, Yellowstone, and other western areas, people manage to live with elk. Boise should get used to it.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. To quote Chief Seattle: “When the beasts are gone we will die from a great loneliness of spirit.”

    Last year when an enormous bull escaped his pen and was wandering down the middle of the Eagle bypass, eveyone just slowed way down until some cowboys showed up to take him away. No death penalty needed.

  2. It seems highly inappropriate that you refer to the elk as a “beast” in your article. To me, development, and urban sprawl is the beast, forcing these wild animals into more frequent conflicts with man-kind.

    EDITOR NOTE–We are on your side. Check the dictionary definition of BEAST. We didn’t malign the elk.

    “noun an animal, esp. a large or dangerous four-footed one : a wild beast.”

    Horses, oxen, mules are “beasts of burden.”

  3. No argument here. I live near the old Pen, at the apex of the funnel described by F&G, and I consider the wildlife an amenity. But I confess many of my neighbors do not. The wildlife, especially deer, create a large traffic problem and eat my neighbors flowers.

    I would prefer the engineering of a crossing platform to safely grant wildlife access across Warm Springs to the river much like they have near Banff. And since it is clear that development is causing the restricted access I’d argue that development should shoulder some of the expense.

  4. My thoughts are that if everyone was driving the speed limit and staying off their cell phone’s. They wouldn’t have to worry about hitting a elk or deer on the road way. Let it be, it should have more rights to be here than car’s.

  5. Have to agree with the G-Man on this one. I hope the cop would not even consider shooting a horse running through the city–even a wild one. LOGIC tells me the horse and the elk would present about the same degree of danger.

    From all I have read, the elk was not about to gore anyone and the cop waited until the critter was in a vacant lot to use his handgun.
    Bad call by the cops and even worse for the big guys to endorse the use of a handgun on an elk.

  6. Clippityclop
    Sep 13, 2007, 1:46 pm

    What an excellent idea. I agree, wildlife are an amenity,and more than that, a treasure. If folks are concerned about flower munching and pet predation, they ought not to live in wildlife habitat. We need to adapt to wildlife, not the other way around.

  7. Sis, I agree on your point of requiring developers helping compensate for the loss of migrations paths. Harris Ranch would of been a great place to start as the Barber Valley is home to 250-300 deer year around. But this restricted access is not new. It would also be nice to address some of these lost “migration” routes in existing neighborhoods such as yours and mine in the North End.

    As for the fate of the Elmer(Elk) yesterday, chances are he would of been fine left alone. And we don’t shoot loose cows in Idaho cause of a law as old as this state. Idaho is an Open Range state, shoot it and it is yours.

  8. Sisyphus you said…..I’d argue that development should shoulder some of the expense….
    My bet is that is your neighborhood. Very little development was around that area when I was a little fellow at Roosevelt!

  9. Joan Palmer
    Sep 13, 2007, 3:16 pm

    I’ve lived in the valley and surrounding areas for many, many years. There has always been wildlife in the heart of the city. Growth will most likely decrease the number of animals rather than increase their numbers. We really should just count our blessings. It enriches everyone’s lives to have them here. I agree that we should accomodate them. Although I have seen them look both ways before crossing a street, accidents do happen. I’m sure they would appreiciate the help.

  10. Porc–
    Something in your past comments makes me think you are living in the middle of Harris Ranch or that vicinity…perhaps Golden Dawn?

  11. You guys are just anti-cop, anti gun. Every time a Boise officer uses a gun , people like you hop on the bandwagon and decry the split second professional decisions our officers use when facing potential lethal consequencs from a bad guy.

    An antler or a hoof on a wild animal is a danger to our peace loving public and community. These brave men are willing to take a bullet or antler to protect you and all you can do is complain. If it wasn’t for our brave peace officers, willing to use guns to protect us, Boise would be a far different place. People are moving here because they feel safe and they know our police are not afraid to use guns. I think wildlife in the city limits needs a message like this once and a while. “Stay where we can’t see you…or die.”

  12. Dog, I’m not even going to pretend you’re serious with your last comment.

  13. Porc, I didn’t say I wouldn’t participate. I recognize my development as part of the problem. And frankly I live near the golf course which seems an ideal spot for an access over Warm Springs that would cause the least impact except for that one house on the hill there I refer to as the fortress of solitude. Of course a big problem is how to alert the deer. I’ll leave that to the biologists.

    Clancy I think Harris Ranch brought the issue into focus. The next phase should exacerbate the problem. I’m sure Tony Jones has been all over this issue.

  14. “Do ya feel lucky, BAMBI? Well… do ya?”

    The wildlife overpass is a great idea, ‘cept I think it’s impractical. Criminy! There are already “deer crossing” signs, and they refuse to honor those signs! They deserve to die! Stupid beasts!


    The harsh reality, unfortunately, is unless speeds were restricted to 15 or 20 mph, deer and larger critters will be having close encounters with motor vehicles. I’ve had close calls on my motorsickle, around dusk, when I’ve been paying 100% attention. They are quick and totally unpredictable. (I’ve also had a few awesome encounters when on board the bicycle, and they’ve been so close I could almost reach out and touch ’em… right in the city limits.)

  15. Mom
    you said….Something in your past comments makes me think you are living in the middle of Harris Ranch or that vicinity…perhaps Golden Dawn?

    Nope I live in a small house on the way to Idaho City….

  16. Joe in Boise
    Sep 13, 2007, 5:24 pm

    The Police shot the Elk because they feared that he might head for the Depot and use that public facility without the permission of our city leaders. Obviously a justified homocide!

  17. Who approved shooting a 400 pound elk with a HANDGUN?

    I take it the cop and the approving authority grew up as city boys.

  18. Hey Boise residents. You can potentially save a bunch of money on this sorry debacle.
    They issue twelve gauge shotgun with 00 Buck, IF the bull really did NEED to be killed would have done a HUMANE job at close range.

    The Brits have used shotguns to stop REAL threat animals like lions and tigers at close range since the days of muzzle loaders. Many outdoor workers in Alaska and Canada still rely on 12 gauges for BIG bear protection.

    Apparently the grunts and BPD powers that be feel that their relatively puny service pistols with 250 to perhaps 450 foot pounds of Kinetic Energy are adequate elk guns. If they really think that they can humanely hunt uninjured elk (let alone justify shooting them) with these relative popguns, I think you should make a decisive case for BPD to switch to the much cheaper and easier to control .22 Long Rifle rim fire round. (Thirty cents to a dollar per round for current cop ammo as opposed to two cents to perhaps ten or twelve pennies for hollow point “super” .22s)

    After all a HEALTHY fork horn bull can easily weigh 5-700 pounds on the hoof. Then there is the issue of an elk’s thick hair, hide, musculature and a really HEAVY skeletal structure. The average shop lifter or bum check passer probably only goes 135 – 210#s live weight, has thin skin, scrawney bones, not as much significant body hair and MIGHT even cease and desist from resistance if shot.. (I hear long time crack addicts are prone to be even scrawnier than normal criminals)

  19. Grumpy ole guy
    Sep 13, 2007, 8:58 pm

    Too bad for these animals that they plan their “incursions” on slow news days.

    I’ll confess to having come very close to being arrested by a policeman once, long ago, but only about 320 miles away, when I instinctively grabbed his arm as he sought to pull his service relvover on an angry and threatening dog, in the stone-lined lobby of a people-ccrowded building. He and I both acted out of instinct, but, so did the dog. (And for the final shoe to drop, the dog was “captured” by a college-age young man who simply took off his belt and slipped it around the dog’s neck and held onto it until transportation arrived).

    grumpy and reflecting.

  20. Blazing Saddle
    Sep 13, 2007, 9:13 pm

    Now, the first mistake was calling the cops. They’re mostly good for shoot’in at things or arresting them. Since they don’t have elk sized hand cuffs, their only other option is to shoot it, whether it needed it or not. Besides, how in blazes would you Mirandize an elk. Easier jus to shoot it. Or, shoot at it in the case of BPD.

    What the people should have done, is call Eagle City, Boise City, or Ada County, Development Services or Commissioners, it don’t matter none.

    Ya see, if one of those dunderheaded agencies would have been called, they would have come and explained to the elk that they, the elk that is, can live just fine in the middle of thousands of houses. Whether its Avimor, M3, Hammer Flat, Harris Ranch, or Brighton, it don’t matter. Cord’in to all them fancy talk’in developer types, houses is good for deer, elk, and what not. Shouldn’t be no problem. No sir.

    After listening to them evelopers, I’m surprised we don’t have vast herds of elk marauding the north end.

    That poor stupid elk jus needed some edge-u-catin. Yessir!

  21. Why not elk? They are larger than bunnies. Too bad they don’t just let every gun totin’ yahoo go after them – why just the yahoos that have a badge? Bunny clubbing was open to all yahoos, not just the “special” ones who are “trained” to “protect” the taxpayers.
    Honest – With the national press looking at Idaho (thank you Mr. Craig) we must look like a bunch of shoot ’em up yahoos!!! Perhaps Craig does represent this state well: “I was so afraid that I did not think, I just had to shoot those elk, I would never have shot the elk and endangered all of the people in the area if I was not so afraid.”

  22. There was an interesting story on NPR the other day. Apparentely residents of Aspen, Colorado are complaining that Black Bears are invading their town. My 14 year old son just looked at me and said “Dad, isn’t it really the other way around”.

  23. “The cops don’t shoot loose horses or cows which pose the same threat when they wander onto the roads.” … or children (though perhaps I shouldn’t give them the idea).

    Yeah, elk can be dangerous — though not nearly so dangerous as little chunks of lead zipping around at the speed of Superman. I was surprised, though, to see that a cop fired two rounds, instead of they usual 30 or 40.

    I live in Gem County, and I frequently see deer, skunks, rabbits, etc. wandering around my house. I love it! Let ’em eat a few of our plants, or nibble on the hay bales — so what ?
    Haven’t seen a bear here, but I have seen bear sign.

    As for weapons — I have a .22 handy, figuring the noise would scare off any critters that bother me, if any ever do. And I have a few 00 buckshot rounds I could stick in the 12 guage if it ever became really necessary, but I sincerely doubt that will happen.

    The critters are mostly just passing through, having a little lunch along the way. Occasionally I see feathers indicating a bird didn’t make it — probably forgot to move out of the way of the dozens of coyotes that visit, or maybe some other predator.
    Neighbors say they’ve seen a wolf in the area — I don’t know whether they’re right.

    Haven’t seen a bobcat or mountain lion, but who knows?
    Ain’t rightly scared of them either, although a cougar does sometimes have somebody for a snack.
    But the danger of that happening is a helluva lot less than getting smeared by some idiot with four wheels who can’t see (or pay attention) well enough to keep from running into another four-wheeled tin can, or a two wheeled machine, or an elk or whatever.

    Maybe the BPD should just shoot anything that moves. Might eventually solve the problem.

  24. RiverCity’s son has more sense than residents and yahoos (pronounced with a long a, for those who may think otherwise).
    Good job RC!

  25. Not to poop on the cop bashing party, wich appears to be a favorite pastime on here…but it appears from the article that the Fish and Game offers made the call to shoot the elk, even though BPD carried it out.

    Do you really think that an officer just shot the elk with out consulting F&G re: options?

    I would be asking those questions, instead of taking the easy way out and bashing the first thing with a badge in sight….

    EDITOR NOTE–Nemo, do you think F&G cops carry rifles? Do you think they would be able to deal with and have complete jurisdiction over the elk? THEY didn’t shoot the elk, even though they were on the scene. Sometimes people make wrong choices and sometimes they wear badges. Have you EVER heard the BPD say, “We made a mistake and we won’t do it that way next time?”

  26. Check your facts guardian. F&G do carry rifles. In fact, they have better equipment than the boys at BPD. And yes, they do have jurisdiction over the elk and all other wildlife within the city limits, with the exception of God. Lastly, how do YOU know that F&G were on scene during the shooting?? Stop making assumptions until you have all of the info Dave.

    EDITOR NOTE–T, you missed something in my editor note to Nemo. I agree 100% with you. That was the point I was making…F&G with proper equipment, and expertise chose NOT to shoot the elk themselves. They are now in the position of endorsing the BPD actions. Facts were checked. Reread my “Question”
    to Nemo.

  27. What a bunch of arm chair quarter backs.

  28. Idaho native
    Sep 15, 2007, 11:11 pm

    Dear Editor or (Dave). Maybe YOU should get your facts right. Do you really think that a young wild, confused, scared bull elk is going to stay calm in unfamiliar area for any length of time? YES, Fish and Game OFfficers do carry rifles, but when the the wild animals enter the city limits, they do reley on other agencies to help out, that being the B.P.D. Now due to the circumastances and life safety of the citizens of Boise, they probally made a split second decision, to their best of ability by shooting the animal, rather than waiting for a F&G officer with a rifle. Now on the other hand, if a F&G officer shot it with a tranguilser, which doesnt kick in for 5 minutes, and it ran into a school area, and ran over several school children. What kind of hey day would you and your arm chair quaterbacks have then? I am personally sick of reading of all the comments of people on this blog, rather than bitching and complaining, start standing up and make a differance. The last comment I have to make, is that I am Idaho Native for 45 years, and the wildlife has always been here and we have been able to adapt to THEM. If you are an outsider from another city or country and cannot adapt to the wildlife , politics, way of living or standards of IDAHO, then you have my blessings to go back where you came from!!!!! THAT INCLUDES YOU DAVE!!!!!!!

  29. The ignorance and naivety of this group of people knows no bounds. BPD carries .40 caliber handguns to kill humans, not elk. 99.5% of their contacts are with people, not wildlife. Geez, give them a break. With citizenry like you all out there, it’s surprising that anyone would want to wear a badge and gun to protect you people.

    Gordon – you could be the poster boy for this group. Make sure the next time someone breaks into your house and is threatening to kill you or your family you tell the dispatcher to ensure the deputies only uses two bullets – no matter what. Oh yes, and also make sure the deputies don’t leave their engines running outside like those lousy BPD officers.

  30. Shockwave,
    Why are you so defensive whenever a cop screws up? You bring up things which just are not LOGICAL.

    Stay on topic please. It was ill advised to shoot an elk with a handgun because it MAY or COULD have caused a car crash. A spooked horse is just as apt to cause a car crash, yet cops (I hope you never become one) would never shoot a horse.

    Think of the thousands of people judged by a cop to make mistakes each month. Since cops come from the same society LOGIC tells me they screw up at the same rate. Live with it dude. A cop is no better than a teacher, coach, doctor, scientist, cook, or preacher….and those folks don’t shoot elk with handguns in the city.

  31. Idaho Native says: “I am personally sick of reading of all the comments of people on this blog, rather than bitching and complaining, start standing up and make a differance.” (sic)

    Firstly, don’t forget that our country was founded by a bunch of dissenters.

    Secondly, picking apart our actions after a crisis is a good way to plan for the next. It’s metacognition and it’s good for you.

    Thirdly, holding public officials accountable to the public IS standing up and making a difference. Are you advocating that we all join the BPD? No? What exactly would you like us to do in order to Make a Difference?

  32. Mr “Logic”…. your last comment was the most UN-LOGICAL thing I’ve heard in awhile. First, no one calls on a “teacher, coach, doctor, scientist, cook, or preacher” to respond to and make a judgement call about a wild animal in the city. So to compare them and their rate of mistakes to police officers in a given situation makes no sense. And Second, it’s your opinion that the “cop screwed up” – dude.

  33. Mr. Logic…

    “Think of the thousands of people judged by a cop to make mistakes each month. Since cops come from the same society LOGIC tells me they screw up at the same rate. Live with it dude. A cop is no better than a teacher, coach, doctor, scientist, cook, or preacher….and those folks don’t shoot elk with handguns in the city.”

    That is the most illogical thing I have ever heard you say……Jobs are different, responsibilities are different, and life experiances are different. In fact I would say the life views of many in public safety are so far removed from your own that it would be different worlds…… I suggest you read On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs – by Dave Grossman for a better understanding(http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html)

    BTW, a car crash caused by an elk (or moose, or even large deer) tends to be devastating. ALso, the difference between a horse and an elk is that you can coax, and often convince a horse to go back from whence it came…Elk are more likely to run from you (straight into traffic??) than a horse. Never saw a horse attack me, and I have been around them all my life. Ever try to catch an elk with a bucket of sweet feed? Ever try to put a halter on an elk? Comparing elk to horses in this situation isnt…logical. 🙂

    Not saying I totally agree with the actions taken, but I am smart enough to realize that it could have been worse and also a LOT worse…and most people in that situation wouldnt have been much better and likely they would be simply ineffectve trying to dis-entagle their good intentions from the need to take action.

    I am also comfortable that the descision was made in good faith and with some thought…we dont have to agree with it or the thought process…We just have to demand that there was one.

    By all acounts there was a thought process, a reasonable one, and one that involved the “experts”- “Fish and Game”. If you want to blame BPD, then you have to blame F&G too if you are going to be honest (not that I think they were wrong, just pointing out the double standard). Otherwise, step back jack, or go down to NOLA or NYC, and see if the cops there are any more tolorant of your opinions.

    THese are for the most part good guys and gals on the PD and SO, they do a job you wont do, and probably cant do, or would be too ineffctive to do….so if you are going to slam them (as is your right) then at least do so with an attempt at objectivity.

  34. Sam the sham
    Sep 17, 2007, 7:33 am

    Hi Native – i have been here not only my 58 years, but my mother and her sibs were born here. I suggest that before you start telling everyone else to leave YOU check to see if you are 100% Native American or happen to have a lot of European heritage. So, why not just take a look around.
    We, as modern human beings have not adapted to the habitat of nature and it’s creatures….(do YOU and your family live in a modern house, use plumbing and city water, drive motorised vehicles, shop at stores?)
    If we are more kind to one another (but vote well), including those idiots from out of state, then it will be a better world to being with.

  35. I see that several policemen and police supporters have come out in support of the sorry incident of the tortured elk. I haven’t seen everything about this embarrassing incident but I have certainly heard or seen no contrition from the parties involved or any resolve to do better next time.

    I haven’t socialized with many of the Boise Police since before they imported that eastern dude to run the outfit. Several years back the knowledgeable members who could qualify with the weapon carried .45 A.C.P.s of one sort or another. Back then they did not carry them to “kill people.” They were armed, at least at that time, for self defense and to STOP violent FELONS from escaping or continuing to perpetrate heinous actions on the populace. The “mighty” .40 S&W is only a half step in power over the generally inadequate for even people 9×19 “Paraballum/Luger” round. Not one of this class of rounds, even the superior .45 Auto can be considered adequate for killing an animal the size of a healthy bull elk. These jesters are lucky they were in Boise harassing an herbivore with their ineptness instead of “up north’ chasing large bears.

    If elk are truly the imminent threat and present such a deadly danger to the inattentive, cell phone yakking, text messaging, NASCAR wannabe commuters in Capitol City, how was it that the four elk that escaped torture and death did NOT wreak havoc, multiple crashes and produce the feared dead school children? After all, the experts only eliminated 20% of the “deadly” threat that day. Eighty percent of the reported elk failed in their purported suicide missions.

    I still feel that the actions of the BPD representatives AND IF&G were ignorant, ill informed, inept, inadequate, inane, and inhumane. Bottom line, they harassed one of the west’s premier and magnificent BIG game animals with a pop gun. But then perhaps the city boys think that with all the new subdivisions, high speed roads, increased traffic and the recent epidemic of “let SOME of ‘em burn themselves out” fires that worrying one elk to death. From what I understand the new head cop’s view, could be summed up as “Vee sot eet vuz zee most humane vay.”

  36. Just so everyone knows, I was born and raised in rural Idaho around Horses, Cows, and Elk. I have roped Horses and Cows, but have never been able to rope an Elk. To compare an Elk to a horse is ludicrous! Course that is to be expected when it comes to Dave and his little group of extremist followers! None of which have probably ever been around horses or elk (except when tied to a tree to save it from being cut down!) Give me a break, if all of you are so much better at making decisions than BPD, go test and go to work there. I doubt any of you could do what they do.

  37. Boise PD carries 45 caliber, not 40, just for the record.

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