Kentucky to assist Wisconsin with elk program over next 3-5 years
Kentucky’s elk reintroduction program has to be considered one of the top modern-day wildlife success stories. If has been highly successful overall, and developed more rapidly than most anyone could have anticipated, except for the planning biologists with a vision.
Now, Kentucky is in a position to help another state with it’s elk program.
Kentucky will help Wisconsin boost its elk herd by providing 150 elk cows, calves and yearling male elk over the next 3-5 years, according to information provided by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources
“Kentucky’s own free-ranging elk herd began with the release of seven elk from Kansas in 1997,” said Commissioner Gregory K. Johnson of the KDFWR. “We eventually released more than 1,500 elk from six states to create a herd of approximately 10,000 elk in Kentucky today.
“It is fitting that we pay this debt forward by partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to help them build their own herd.”
Wisconsin officials announced the finalized agreement between the two states last week and said they were looking forward to reestablishing their elk population.
Wisconsin will pay the cost of the translocation program. Wisconsin will also assist Kentucky financially in the development of forest habitat projects in eastern Kentucky that will benefit wildlife, with a special emphasis placed on ruffed grouse.
“This will enhance our current forest management efforts in eastern Kentucky, which is critical for improving ruffed grouse populations,” explained Chris Garland, acting Wildlife Director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
“Cooperation is how wildlife agencies do business,” added Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Elk and Deer Program Coordinator Gabe Jenkins. “Agencies help each other for the benefit of all.”
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which was instrumental in the establishment of Kentucky’s elk herd, will supply additional support.
Elk trappers in the coming weeks will focus on areas with the highest number of complaints about nuisance elk. Only cows, calves and yearling male elk will be relocated.
Elk will be held in quarantine in Kentucky for disease testing before being transported to Wisconsin for the calving season. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employees will assist with the trapping, disease testing and elk caretaking while the animals remain in Kentucky.
This old writer feels fortunate he was able to spend some time back in 2000 with KDFWR biologists Charlie Logsdon and Dan Crank as the elk herd began to grow.
It was the dedication, and hard work of these biologists and others who had the vision to bring the elk program to Kentucky, which now will expand to grow others.