There has been a lot of news about elk in Missouri recently. I just saw a news release about the success of this year’s elk hunting season.
This was the second year of elk hunts since elk were brought back into Missouri in 2011.
Only five elk hunting permits were awarded by lottery for last year’s hunt and the five hunters were all successful in the firearms portion of the hunt.
Again this year only five permits were awarded and three hunters were successful in the firearms portion and two in the archery portion of the elk hunt.
Elk are the second largest member of the deer family after moose. Elk can usually be distinguished from deer by their large size and antlers.
Male elk grow very large antlers that they shed annually and female elk generally do not.
Elk were a native species in Missouri but by the end of the 1880’s, elk had been hunted to extinction in the state through unregulated hunting.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) with partners including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation reintroduced elk from Kentucky in large part because of their popularity for hunting and tourism.
Peck Ranch Conservation Area consists of 23,763 acres of rugged forested hills and hollows about 7 miles east of Winona. This place was determined to be the perfect place to begin the reintroduction of elk in Missouri.
The MDC reintroduced the first group of elk onto Peck Ranch in south central Missouri in 2011.
Additional elk were brought into Missouri in 2012 and 2013, also from Kentucky. These 108 elk formed the basis of the Missouri elk herd.
The state’s plan is to grow the herd to around 400 to 500 head in Carter, Shannon, and Reynolds counties. Elk can now be seen in the 29,000-acre Current River Conservation Area, as well as Peck Ranch.