Big mistake. Local citizens rallied around the elk. They took to Facebook and other social media to lobby on the creature's behalf.
It's an election year. The Legislature is in session. The last thing politicians want to do is to offend prospective voters.
So right now, DNR officials have been told not to pull the trigger. They also are forbidden from divulging which politico issued the stay of execution. In fact, they can't comment about the elk at all.
More than a week ago, I called a DNR official and inquired about the critter's status, and was told that all questions should be referred to Hoy Murphy, the agency's public relations person.
I called Murphy. He wasn't in, so I left a message on his voice mail. Shortly thereafter, I received the following e-mail:
"I'm sorry, but I've been told to put all media communications on hold for now. Things have been changing too fast for anyone to keep up, and they figure it's better to have no response than to send out a response that may be outdated by the time it sees print. I promise I'll get back to you as soon as I can."
Not to pick on Murphy, who is a good egg, but there aren't many things that could change "too fast for anyone to keep up." Either DNR sharpshooters are allowed to kill the elk or they aren't.
There's some question as to whether the elk can be killed on private property without the landowner's permission, but again that's an either-or situation.
My personal guess is that the only thing that's rapidly changing is the potential for northern West Virginia's deer to have a CWD outbreak. Should that happen, deer hunters should move heaven and earth to find out which politician prevented the DNR from doing something that's clearly within its authority to do.