Missouri elk hunts slated for 2016

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(COLUMBIA, Mo., AP) — Elk hunting could begin in Missouri in 2016 if the herd grows from its current size of about 100 to 200 by then, according to an official with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The department began reintroducing elk to the state in 2010, trapping about 50 each year in Kentucky and taking them to the Peck Ranch Conservation Area in southeast Missouri for observation. The herd now only grow through reproduction, The Columbia Missourian (bit.ly/1dc8Z53) reported.
Resource scientist Lonnie Hansen said the current herd has about 100 elk after several died during relocation and last year’s drought.
“I’d be pleased if we had 125 animals in the herd” by the end of this year, Hansen said.
The department wants at least 200 elk in the herd before it will allow hunting and that might not happen for another three years, Hansen said. And when hunting does begin, only 30 to 40 permits will be issued.
“We’d like to see them become part of the natural landscape,” Hansen said about the elk.
Conservation officials hope the elk reintroduction will also provide an economic boost to conservation areas, with people visiting to see the animals, said Joe Jerek, the department’s news services coordinator.
“There are lots of people that just want to see them,” he said. “It brings another large native species back to Missouri.”