MOUNT VERNON — The growing elk population in the Skagit County is costing farmers $1.4 million a year, according to a new estimate.
That figure is slightly down from the $1.5 million estimate released in January, the Skagit Valley Herald reported Saturday.
The new estimate by the Skagit County Assessor’s Office is based on 140 survey responses from farmers involved in a state program that offers tax benefits to keep farms in production.
In survey responses, damage to fences and crops were listed as the top issues.
The average for farms reporting elk damage was $13,000, according to Assessor Dave Thomas. Individual damages were as high was $150,000.
Among responders, 76% said they experienced elk damage over a combined 5,182 farmland acres.
Rural property owners have complained about damages as the North Cascades — or Nooksack — elk herd has grown in recent years.
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife co-manages the 1,600-animal herd with area treaty tribes.
In March, the agency said it would employ new tactics in an attempt to get more elk into surrounding hills and out of the valley.