Skagit County officials: Elk damage estimate at $1.4 million

(Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Skagit County officials estimate the growing elk population in the region is costing farmers $1.4 million a year.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that figure is slightly down from the $1.5 million estimate released in January.

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.

Assessor Dave Thomas says the average for farms reporting elk damage was $13,000. Individual damages were as high was $150,000.

Rural property owners have complained about damages as the North Cascades — or Nooksack — elk herd has grown in recent years.