Public input sessions on elk management and the future of the elk herd in Wisconsin will be held around the state in early October.

The Department of Natural Resources and partner groups have been considering changes to Wisconsin’s current elk management plan that could include increasing the size of the current Clam Lake elk range, and moving forward with plans to establish a new elk herd in the Black River State Forest area.

At the time elk were first introduced, plans were also made, but never carried out, to reintroduce elk to the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls. Since then there has been considerable interest from partners to again consider additional reintroductions at these two locations.

Any changes to the elk management plan would ultimately have to be approved by the state Natural Resources Board.

“Partners and the public have been critical to our elk reintroduction and we are looking to them again for input,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.

The Wisconsin Legislature authorized the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1993 to evaluate the potential for reintroducing elk to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Clam Lake. During February 1995, 25 elk were trapped, held in a quarantine facility for 90 days while undergoing rigorous disease testing, and transported to the Clam Lake release site. After being held in a pen for a two week acclimation period, the elk were released into the forest.

Management responsibility of the herd transferred from the university to DNR in May 1999 after the initial reintroduction study was considered a success. At that time, approximately 40 elk were present in the herd.

As of May 15, 2012, approximately 150 elk were present in the state, comprised of the main herd near Clam Lake and a second smaller satalite herd located near Butternut.

More information including the full elk management plan is available by searching for “elk reintroduction” on the DNR website. The public will have an opportunity to submit feedback on the elk plan revisions that will be presented at the meetings. The meetings all run from 7-9 p.m. on the following dates at the locations listed:

  • October 1, Hayward – Hayward High School Auditorium, 10320 Greenwood Lane.
  • October 2, Phillips – Price County Courthouse – County Board Room, 126 Cherry St.
  • October 3, Ladysmith – Ladysmith High School Auditorium, 1700 Edgewood Ave. East,(US Hwy 8)
  • October 4, Black River Falls – Lunda Theater – Middle School Auditorium, 1202 Pierce St.
  • October 8, Pewaukee – Wildwood Lodge, N14 W24121 Tower Place

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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