Park officials must re-evaluate elk plan

Editorial

Attention SEAL Team Six! Stop all overseas operations and return to base. Your next mission takes you to Rocky Mountain National Park, where, under cover of night, you’ll be stealthily stopping an invasion … of elk.

We’re joking, of course. Navy SEALs won’t be helping to thin the herd in Colorado’s most popular crown jewel. But the Park Service’s preferred approach is only slightly less absurd, involving the hiring of specialized sharpshooters to conduct elk hunts at night, using night-vision equipment and silencers. That way, the public never has to see, or know, what’s going on.

It’s obviously the most expensive, convoluted and politically correct way to get the job done — which is why it’s the option favored by the feds.

In what strikes us as a more common-sense approach, several members of Congress want to give recreational hunters a chance to help thin the herd, under the strict supervision of park officials and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Many hunters would jump at the chance, and probably happily pay a hefty fee, to bag an elk in the park.

The job would get done cheaper and faster, speeding relief to the stressed ecosystem. All that’s required is the suspension of a park hunting ban.

But park officials prefer an approach that combines Rube Goldberg with James Bond. “There are also 90 years of expectations that visitors can recreate here and not be displaced by hunters,” park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a recent news story. Apparently, being displaced by locust-like elk herds stripping the park bare is more in line with visitors’ expectations.

We think most visitors would not only tolerate hunters but welcome them, once they understand the hunt is necessary to protect the park. And some of them might even join in, paying hunting fees that could save the taxpayers money and help restore damaged areas.

But park officials refuse to address the issue honestly, preferring to hide park management realities with exorbitantly expensive, high-tech night hunts.