State looking to expand elk herdOutdoor News
-- Wisconsin officials are moving forward with plans to expand the state’s elk herd.
MADISON - Wisconsin officials are moving forward with plans to expand the state’s elk herd.
The DNR is starting to talk with officials in Kentucky about moving some of their healthy elk to the Badger State. But after chronic wasting disease hit Wisconsin’s deer herd a decade ago, lawmakers imposed a ban on importing wild deer and elk unless they were found to be free of disease. Also, officials say they need money to monitor the herd, and allay fears about elk causing crop damage. But DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says those hurdles can be crossed – and he said now is probably the best time to get it done. He says fears about CWD have been fading, and the DNR has found about 10,000 healthy wild elk in southeast Kentucky.
The two states have not reached an agreement, but Wallenfang says they’ve talked about 200 elk to add to the current 180-member herd in the Clam Lake area. And about 75 elk would go to Jackson County, where officials have expressed an interest for years about creating such a herd.
Elk disappeared in the 19th century. But in 1995, experts at UW-Stevens Point brought in about 25 Michigan elk to the Clam Lake area in Ashland County. And Clam Lake officials say elk has provided a big boost to tourism, even though the herd is only a fraction of the community had hoped. The DNR says the state’s herd is only about 180 animals. Bears, wolves, car accidents, and a lack of aspen trees for food has limited the herd.
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