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Missouri Looks to Restore Elk Population

Elk are not normally found living in the wild in Missouri, but there are a few elk farms scattered across the state. Now, the Missouri Conservation Commission says it’s looking into restoring the elk population in southern Missouri. KSMU’s Justin Lux has details.

There was a plan in place ten years ago to make a similar effort to restore the elk population, but that attempt was suspended due to the issue of disease and concerns over adequate habitat.After a full decade has passed, much has changed in the area surrounding Peck Ranch in south central Missouri. Larry Rieken is the Wildlife Regional Supervisor for the Ozark Region of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“Part of what has changed the last ten years is that our habit is better. That includes high-quality food plots and wildlife water facilities. This gave us a little more time and we were heading that direction anyway, but the ten years have allowed us to get our habit in better condition,” Rieken says.

The Missouri Conservation Commission has also directed Conservation workers to add a series of guidelines into the development plan. It includes improved health procedures and a new plan for dealing with elk that leave the restoration zone.

Governor Nixon’s Press Secretary, Scott Holste, says the governor’s office sees economic benefits that could come as a result from not only increased tourism due to the elk, but from hunting as well.

“We’ve seen this happen in other states that have reintroduced elk population, to the point where hunting is a viable option and perhaps this is a road that will Missouri will want to go down in the near future. If so, the governor thinks we ought to take a look at this and that is what the Conservation Commission has done,” says Holste.

Citizens of Missouri will be given several opportunities to provide their input. The Conservation Department will be holding public meetings in the area around Peck Ranch and will also accept comments from the public at any of its offices statewide, as well as on their website.

For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.

The Missouri Conservation Commission says it is working toward protecting elk in southern Missouri. (Photo provided by Missouri Conservation Department)