My compliments to Alex Sakariassen for his article on the elk decline issue (see “What’s eating the elk?” Jan. 26). The data he quotes from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks concerning the time periods of decline and expansion in the elk populations in southern Ravalli County correspond with our findings.
However, judging by the Ravalli County Commissioner’s predator policy, it is obvious that irrationality again trumps science. We recently provided the commissioners with our published study Observations of Brachygnathia Superior in Wild Ruminants in Western Montana, USA. The study is free online. We found that over half of the wild and domestic grazing animals, including elk, examined for the study had symptoms consistent with disruption of the fetal thyroid hormones during development. Most symptoms of fetal hypothyroidism cause the young to die prior to or soon after birth. This, of course, decreases the number of young available to replace the animals that die of natural causes or are killed by humans or other predators. Finding what is causing the hormone disruption and dealing with the actual culprit is the intelligent way, and the only way, to solve the problem of declining ruminant populations.
Doing this will also make you and your children healthier. There will be far fewer children born with heart defects, brain malformations (especially autism), a propensity to have asthma, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, childhood cancers and the other debilitating health problems the Pentagon has stated are a national security issue. All are symptoms of the disruption of the thyroid hormones during fetal development. Or you can follow the Ravalli County Commissioners’ policies and your children can keep being born with those serious and costly health problems. Strangling, maiming, torturing or poisoning all animals that happen to be caught in snares and traps or that eat the poison spread around or shooting bears, mountain lions and wolves over bait will not protect the young of wild grazing animals or children from the effects of congenital fetal hypothyroidism. Killing predator species using these inhumane, unethical methods will only decrease the available hunting opportunities, especially for outfitters to guide ethical hunters.