Killing Them Softly (With Silencers)

Rocky Mountain National Park elkSpinning the thinning?Tourists love Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park's spectacular elk herds. Visitors to the park often get out of their cars and pose for photos with groups of elk grazing placidly on the green grass behind them, snow-capped Rocky Mountains filling the backdrop. The elk, which have been protected inside the park, in turn have become accustomed to the humans milling about in their midst, showing no fear and helping out Colorado's tourist economy by reliably posing pretty for photos. So the National Park Service has announced that it will try to preserve this unique and trusting inter-species relationship as it hires sharpshooters to start killing up to 200 elk a year in an attempts to thin the prolific herd. Park officials say that they will take "special precautions" to prevent the elk from associating humans with danger and death. The precautions will likely include the use of high-powered rifles fitted with silencers, and "subsonic ammunition," which can be "quietly used at close range." The Park Service refers to this as "preserving the viewability of the elk." Translation: keeping them from reacting normally and bolting up to the high country for good to escape the snipers, resulting in hordes of disappointed tourists.