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Monday, January 25 • 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Elk Management In The Eastern United States

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AUTHORS: Shelby Hiestand*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Jennifer Kleitch, Michigan DNR; Jeremy Banfield, Pennsylvania Game and Fish; Will Bowling, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin DNR

ABSTRACT: Elk Cervus canadensis were extirpated from the eastern United States by the late 1800s due primarily to habitat degradation and unregulated hunting. Early attempts to bring elk back to eastern states occurred with varying success as early as the 1910s. Some of these small populations were able to establish and still exist today. Many factors limited success of reintroductions including disease, unsustainable harvest levels, removal of crop-depredating elk, and isolation of small, unsustainable herds. Elk populations currently exist in MI, KY, PA, WI, MN, AR, TN, NC, MO, WV, and VA. Reintroduction efforts continue to this day most recently in expanding Wisconsin and Minnesota elk range. Current herds in the eastern US vary widely in population, management strategies and techniques. Each area that reestablishes elk on the landscape faces similar challenges including gaining local public support, funding, and outlining future goals and management strategies. As each herd is regionally unique, managers face diverse challenges depending on habitat type, weather conditions, disease concerns, predators, and potential to become a nuisance animal. Establishment of hunting seasons is a common strategy for managing established populations. Seasons, quotas, and designation of hunting areas add another layer of control as well as challenges for managers. Beyond hunting, elk have also become a popular species for wildlife viewing and established viewing areas or parks bring tourism to these regions. Current tasks for many managers include habitat management, population monitoring, and communicating with the public. Communication among elk managers of these isolated populations is important in improving and expanding local management resources.

Monday January 25, 2016 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST
Vandenberg A