MISSOULA, Mont.—Thirty-four elk from Kentucky have arrived in Missouri to start a new herd—as well as a new chapter in an elk restoration saga still being authored by state conservation agencies in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The elk made an overnight ride in a semi-driven livestock trailer and arrived near Winona, Mo., on May 5. The elk had been captured in Kentucky and held for a 90-day quarantine to ensure good health. They’re now in a holding pen on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Peck Ranch Conservation Area in southeast Missouri. The elk will be released into the wild sometime in May following final health tests.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s news release is posted at:

http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/elk-return-missouri-after-150-year-absence

See video of elk arriving in Missouri at the link/URL below:

Missouri joins Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin and North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park in restoring a native species missing for more than a century.

Virginia has committed to yet another elk restoration project in the near future.

“We’ve been proud to be a major partner in all of these efforts with financial and technical assistance, and we’re especially proud that a herd we helped start in Kentucky 14 years ago is now providing seed stock for restoring a herd in Missouri,” said Blake Henning, vice president of lands and conservation for RMEF.

In 2000, RMEF invested over $61,000 to help fund Missouri’s initial elk restoration study. A restoration plan was approved in October. RMEF gave $40,000 to help build a trapping and handling facility used to bring elk from Kentucky to Missouri. RMEF also pledged $300,000 to the State of Missouri to ensure the elk not only arrive, but thrive.

“We are very grateful to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for its long-standing support of elk restoration in Missouri,” said Missouri Department of Conservation Director Bob Ziehmer. “Once we were ready to move forward, RMEF wasted no time putting resources behind the effort.”

Henning said, “RMEF is in this for the long haul. There is no higher calling in conservation than restoring a native game species to sustainable, huntable, balanced populations. Missourians have held to that dream and worked tirelessly for more than a decade to bring elk back. It goes to show what is possible when you dream big and never give up. To everyone who worked so hard for so long to make this possible, I offer a heartfelt ‘thank you.’ And to the elk I say ‘welcome home.’”

Missouri’s long-term plans call for hunting as a tool to manage the size of the elk herd. When hunting commences will depend on how quickly the herd grows, but officials say it could begin as soon as 2015.

The state’s elk restoration zone is a 346-square-mile area spanning parts of Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties. The area was selected because of suitable habitat, extensive public lands, low road density, minimal agricultural activity and landowner support.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

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