Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MDC makes final preparations for elk

WINONA, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Department of Conservation has made final preparations for the transfer of 34 elk to the Peck Ranch Conservation Area. 

The elk will be moved from Kentucky on April 30 to the expansive elk zone in Carter, Shannon, and Reynolds Counties.

Department of Conservation agents have been managing the 36 square mile Peck Ranch Conservation Area to improve habitat for elk and other animals.

Wildlife biologist Ryan Houf says that the department has established food plots of clover, alfalfa, orchard grass, wheat, and rye. They have cleared undergrowth through prescribed fire, which Houf says clears off undesired vegetation and improves ecosystem health.

“"It’s our major component of natural community management," Houf said. "We’'ve been doing that for like 30 years. It’s just not elk management, we’re doing natural community management. And elk are just part of that natural community, that native species.”"

Conservation agents led media members through a five-hour tour of the backroads, forests, and glades of the remote Peck Ranch Conservation Area on Tuesday.

One of the highlights was a three-acre holding pen that will hold the animals for several weeks before they are released into the wild. The holding pen contains multiple compartments and eight foot fences to protect the elk. The pen allows the elk to adjust to their new environment.

The elk are currently being held in quarantine in Kentucky, where they are under medical observation. Conservation agents say that they hope in bring in about 150 elk over the next few years …and they believe that the elk zone has enough space and suitable habitat for 450 of the animals.

Photo: One of the elk holding pen's compartments.
KRCU, Jacob McCleland

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