Missouri will soon be following Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee as states where elk populations will be restored. The project places limited numbers of elk in selected counties. These programs are successful because the elk placed in these areas do not tend to migrate. The populations are closely monitored and controlled.
Elk have been known to carriers of disease to other large game animals.
To prevent this from becoming a problem, rigid health testing methods have been developed. The new herds will be checked regularly to maintain their health as the herd size increases over time.
In Missouri, the counties of Shannon, Reynolds, and Carter in the southeast area of the state have been targeted as counties for the restoration of the elk herds.
The restoration zone for elk is 346 square miles covering 221, 509 acres in parts the these three counties. The area is largely public land with few roads and low agricultural use, The project is well supported by area landowners. The idea of bringing elk herds back into the state has been in progress for more than a decade. The obstacles of location, animal health, and migration had to be overcome to make it become a reality.
Plans are in place to monitor the movement of the elk herds throughout the area and throughout the year.
The plans include procedures for dealing with elk that move into areas where they are not welcomed or wanted by landowners and citizens. An elk hunting season will be established and permits for hunting will be issued as soon as the herds are stabilized. This should be viewed as a major blessing for large game hunters in the Midwest who are interest in bagging an elk without the cost of travel ling long distances for the privilege. Landowners who want to attract elk onto their property will be given information and assistance along with guidelines to make it a possibility.
Elk have not been a part of Missouri’s wildlife mix for about 150 years.
Hunting, fencing, and habitat competition caused the former herds to decline and disappear. Radio collars will be used to track the locations of the released animals. The habitat in the restoration area has been improved since the year 2000 to prepare for the integration of the elk into the state.
Low, J. (2010). “Conservation commission approves elk restoration plan.” Missouri Conservationist. 71(15511), Nov. 2010.