Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker and the state’s Department of Natural Resources announced last October that a deal with wildlife officials from Kentucky had been reached to repopulate the elk in the stat. Within the next three to five years DNR will be allowed to capture 150 elk in Kentucky. After the animals are certified healthy, they will be sent to Wisconsin. Kentucky officials said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that according to the contract, 50 elks will be moved to the state each year.
An elk herd made up of about 160 animals that roams in the woods of Wisconsin’s Clam Lake in Ashland County is the only elk herd from within the state. The Kentucky animals will be used for bolstering the herd and starting another one in Jackson County. In return, Kentucky wildlife habitat will be helped by Wisconsin DNR officials to develop its forests, especially with ruffed grouse.
Kevin Wallenfang, an ecologist from Department of Natural Resources of Wisconsin, said that the objective is to capture about 50 elk by early September. After this stage is completed, they plan to introduce that group of elk in Jackson County by October this year. Afterwards, in 2016 another group of 50 elk will be caught and taken to Clam Lake. The final group of 50 elk will arrive in the following year and will be split, one for each region.
Wildlife officials from both states are currently aiding in trapping the elk groups in order to import them from Kentucky to Wisconsin. The operation is jointly funded by NGO’s and official state funds which include the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Natural Resources, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Jackson County Wildlife Fund. The ultimate goal is to increase the numbers from Jackson County herd to 390 elk and from Clam Lake herd to 1,400 elk.
According to investor projection, a bigger number of elk will also attract tourists in the central and northern areas of the state. Furthermore, when the Clam Lake herd hits a number of 200 elk, they plan to develop a hunting season, a long gone tradition for the state.
All in all, the Wisconsin – Kentucky collaboration should offer an example around the country – not only for elk, but for any species in any state slowly withering away. In the end, complete disappearance from one state means one massive breeding ground less nationally – and the possibility of losing the species becomes quite high.
Image Source: Marshfield News Herald