Yukon judge strikes down lawsuit over Takhini elk herd

·1 min read
A judge has struck a statement of claim filed against the Yukon government over its management of the Takhini elk herd.  (submitted by Sue Thomas - image credit)
A judge has struck a statement of claim filed against the Yukon government over its management of the Takhini elk herd. (submitted by Sue Thomas - image credit)

A Yukon judge has struck down a lawsuit against the territorial government over the Takhini elk herd.

In a June 23 decision, Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan wrote that it was "plain and obvious" that a statement of claim from ranchers Wayne and Allison Grove had "no reasonable prospect of success."

The Groves, who own the El Dorado Ranch in the Takhini Valley northwest of Whitehorse, sued the government in 2020, alleging that it had been negligent in allowing the Takhini elk herd — which it introduced to the area in 1951 — to grow in size and range beyond what was laid out in management plans.

As a result, the Groves claimed, the wild elk have wreaked havoc on their business, destroying fields and fences, eating crops and interfering with their farmed elk.

The Yukon government filed an application asking that the lawsuit be struck, arguing that it owed the Groves no duty of care.

Duncan ultimately sided with the government, finding that the limited interactions between the Groves and government over the years, including the sale of the ranch to the Groves, was not enough to establish a "special relationship" from which a duty of care would arise.

She also found that while the government's elk management plans contained recommendations on controlling the Takhini elk herd's population size and reducing elk-agriculture conflict, there was no evidence the government had committed to implementing any of them.

While she struck the lawsuit as it existed, Duncan granted the Groves permission to amend their claim should they be able to provide additional facts that could demonstrate a special relationship.

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