Maureen Smilkstein: Elk concerns overblown

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I have read the article regarding the elk migration to Rita Valentine Park (“Elk concerns are increasing,” Jan. 16 Steamboat Pilot & Today) over and over and fail to see the correlation of how off-leash dogs have impacted the elk. The article points out that there have not been any conflicts with dogs, so why are a few people insisting the dogs are to blame?

I wholeheartedly agree with Don Valentine that the idea is absurd. Many years ago, a famous bank robber by the name of Slick Willy Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, and he answered, “That’s where the money is.” Perhaps elk are invading the yards of the neighbors because “that’s where the food is.” Common sense would lead me to believe that this herd has had to encounter many loose dogs in many areas in order to end up in this neighborhood, so they can’t be too concerned with dogs in general.

I would ask City Council to base any changes to the off-leash laws to be based on fact, not hysteria. I believe there would be a huge backlash by the dog owners who are enjoying exercising their pets off leash. The ongoing war that has existed between dog people and non-dog people is like having to watch the movie “Groundhog Day” ad nauseam.

City Council members who believe a fenced-in dog area would benefit the community are, in my opinion, out of touch with most of us who enjoy exercising with our dogs. I cannot imagine going for a walk by myself, then loading my dogs to go to a fenced area for them to play.

If the elk herd was threatened by dogs at large I would imagine they would be feeding only in yards that have no dogs. I know for a fact this is not the case. I would encourage any changes to any aspect of our community to be based on fact and research, not on the opinions of a few disgruntled citizens.

Maureen Smilkstein

Steamboat Springs

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