Elk industry ailing due to chronic wasting disease | PostIndependent.com

Elk industry ailing due to chronic wasting disease

Fifteen years ago, when the elk industry was booming, Terry Porter bought 10 head of elk to raise and sell for meat. Porter started Lite Tracks, a natural food company that sells organic meat, seafood and fruit, at a time when adult elk sold for $5,000-$8,000 and calves sold for $4,500.A few years ago, Porter was one of 170 people in the elk industry and sold 75 percent of his meat online. He did very little cold calling or door-to-door sales.Today, Porter’s elk are worth one-tenth of their original value, only 65 people remain in the elk industry and nearly all of his business is done through door-to-door sales.”A lot of people in the elk industry are really hurting right now,” Porter said.Demand for elk meat rapidly fell with the onset of mad cow disease. Mad cow attacks cows’ brains and is spread to humans through consumption.After the outbreak, consumers were afraid of chronic wasting disease, which is similar to mad cow but affects elk, and stopped buying elk meat, Porter said. To stay in business Porter sells his meat by knocking on doors in Vail and Aspen.”People don’t understand how much it costs to produce elk meat,” Porter said. “It costs about 1.5 times as much to produce elk as it does to produce cow meat.”Porter pays $350 for each elk he processes to get approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Porter tests each elk for chronic wasting disease, a process that can take a few weeks and delays getting meat to the consumer. Although many in the elk industry didn’t survive chronic wasting disease, Porter has held on and is optimistic about his company’s future.The more educated people become about where their meat comes from, the more interested they’ll be in organic meat, Porter said.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534ivogel@postindependent.com

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User