Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elk

There has been a lot of talk about elk since the Missouri Department of Conservation decided to restore an elk population in Missouri. Elk were native to Missouri until they were extirpated by 1865.  The decision to bring them back was made after careful study and input from citizens from across the state.

Like many of Missouri's early European settlers, these late arrivals will be coming from Kentucky.  There is now a MDC video on the first steps of bringing elk back to Missouri.*  In watching the video you will see the narrow chutes they use for handling and wonder how they can handle a big boy like the one pictured above.
"Of the bulls captured as part of trapping efforts, only calves and spike bulls will be used for Missouri’s restoration program, because mature bull elk with branched antlers are more difficult to handle and more likely to injure themselves or other captured elk."

Currently there are several captive herds on ranches in Missouri.  The News-Leader has an article on an elk herd on a private ranch.  Bradleyville elk rancher Leon Combs has just acquired a new bull elk named Thunder.  Presumably it is named for its bugling call, but his main claim to fame is his rack of antlers, scoring an astounding 552 on the Safari Club International which scores the antlers of big game worldwide.  To read about the herd and see pictures of Thunder, click here.

Elk are magnificent to see in the wild but there are always concerns during an operation like this.  The herd will be held in quarantine for 90 days to assure that they aren't bringing in animal diseases.  They are being released in a wilderness area large enough to support the herd without impacting other land uses.

"The limited elk-restoration zone was chosen because it has extensive public lands, minimal agricultural activity, low road density and public support.
First Elk Captured
All elk brought to Peck Ranch CA will be fitted with microchips and radio collars. This will permit tracking their movements after they leave the holding pen as part of a cooperative research project with the University of Missouri."
Details of the trapping process and information on their new home are at this MDC website.  The first of the 50 elk has been trapped and is shown at the right.

* Thanks to Kenda Flores of MDC for the information.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Thunder's antlers are real. The reason I question is because he might be full of "bull" and more importantly, I think back to my own fakeness with the old sock trick I use to pull in high school.

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