PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri elk restoration project
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT;
updated 12:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A bull elk stands on a ridge eating grass at dusk in Knott County in Kentucky. The training center opened in 2007 on the site of a reclaimed surface mine and is a noted elk viewing area. Elk are most active near sunrise and sunset.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has introduced elk to Missouri as part of an elk restoration project. The Peck Ranch is the center of Missouri's elk restoration zone. It is a 346-square-mile area straddling Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties in southeast Missouri.
Bernice Amburgey feeds and pets a horse in the family barn in Mallie, Ky. The Amburgeys run horseback tours for elk viewing in Knott County, the self-proclaimed "Elk Capital of the East." Kentucky's elk population has spread to 16 counties with a current herd estimated at around 11,000, allowing for an elk hunting season, tourism opportunities and economic benefits.
Melissa Jones shows a photograph of the elk she hit and damage to her Chevrolet Metro, which was totaled as a result of an accident in February 2009. As the elk population in Kentucky has exploded, residents have ramped up concerns for their safety on the roads.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife game officer William Amburgey talks about the elk population that frequents land on his leased property near Hindman, Ky. Amburgey, who was involved in Kentucky's elk restoration program which brought elk to that state in the late 1990s, currently owns and operates Saddle Up Elk Tours.
Clint Dalbom, a Missouri Department of Conservation regional supervisor who coordinated the elk trapping project, talks about elk biology and trapping methods at Pine Mountain State Park Resort in Pineville, Ky. Dalbom has been with the Conservation Department for 29 years.
Perched on a rock, Jim Smith, right, talks with Conservation Department supervisor Clint Dalbom about land transformation in Eminence. The department is working closely with private landowners in the elk restoration zone, offering monetary subsidies for those willing to engage in efforts to support elk habitation and improve living conditions for the herd.
Peck Ranch Wildlife Biologist Ryan Houf shows topographic and environmental features of the conservation area to members of the media. Peck Ranch is the epicenter of Missouri's elk restoration zone, a 346-square-mile area straddling Shannon, Carter, and Reynolds counties in southeast Missouri. The majority of the land in the area is publicly owned, but some private landowners are worried about long-term negative effects the relocated elk may pose.
Cattle farmer Bobby Simpson, an outspoken opponent of Missouri's elk restoration plan, walks among his cattle on his ranch in Salem. Citing examples from other states with elk, Simpson says he and other Missouri farmers are concerned about damage elk could cause to property, fences and crops. Simpson has supported a resolution in the Missouri legislature to make the Conservation Department responsible for any damages caused by elk.
Mike Huffman, Conservation Department Outreach and Education division chief, walks through an elk holding pen at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area near Winona. Thirty-four elk trapped in Kentucky were moved to the holding pens on May 5, where they will stay for approximately 30 days to acclimate to the area before being released to the entire ranch. During the 30-day period, gated enclosures allow individual elk to be separated for disease testing or observation.
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