After a Gearhart resident proposed a “don’t feed the elk” policy in July, members of the City Council took up the call at Wednesday’s meeting. The city may use a similar ordinance in Warrenton as a model. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said artificial feeding can cause elk to become habituated to humans and aggressive toward them.
“The ODFW has definitely recommended educating people about behavior around the elk and also recommended a feeding ordinance several times,” Mayor Matt Brown said. “They mentioned it really helps with unnecessary elk-human contact. Apparently there have been reports of people feeding the elk in Gearhart. If people get into the habit of thinking that cell phone or ball is an apple, they’re more likely to have an interaction or situation of some type.”
Whether some of the species included will remain the same as the Warrenton ordinance remains a topic for discussion. In Warrenton, feeding of the elk is a civil infraction, with penalties up to $250 per feeding incident.
Bebe Michel, who raised the topic in July, said the city needed a comprehensive approach, but could start with banning feeding of the elk.
Councilor Reita Fackerell sought to expand the ordinance to feeding of bear, deer, bobcat and other animals. As specified in the Warrenton ordinance, feeding of songbirds would remain unregulated.
“If we wanted to do something similar to Warrenton’s, I would be OK looking at that,” Fackerell said.
A committee including Fackerell, Michel and Councilor Paulina Cockrum will meet to discuss changes. “I’ve got a consensus to get to work,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said.