By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
Conservation officials are making strides in getting the elk population back in Missouri.
The elk population is in a good place conservation officials say after efforts to revitalize the animal in Missouri.
Deer and Elk program leader Jason Isabel says his department in association with several others have been working hard to bring the elk back to the state.
"About 10 years ago we wrapped up that restoration effort, brought in about 110 elk from Kentucky and released them down into a part of the Ozarks where it was deemed the most appropriate in terms of having an elk population," Isabel tells Kyle Carroll during his regular visit on the KFEQ Hotline. "And they're doing really well."
Isabel says Missouri actually had its first elk hunting season in some time three years ago.
"So, we've had three elk hunting seasons in modern times and the population is doing really well we've got between 275 and 300 elk and we've been able to offer a relatively limited hunting opportunity for five lucky individuals for the last three years," Isabel explains. "And it's been a really great success."
Isabel says of the 15 tags that have been given over the last three years, 13 of them have been filled.
Isabel says the goal now is to get the population of elk up to around four or five hundred.
Isabel says the population is currently in a great place, and while there is limited hunting opportunities, people are also coming to just witness the elk.
"A limited hunting opportunity is great for those that are interested in applying for that and those few that get drawn for it," Isabel says. "But just having that ability for any members of the public to go down there and get to see elk is just really tremendous."
"And the local communities down there have been really excited about it and it's a huge boost to the tourism industry in that part of the state as well."
Isabel says the current population of elk is just about halfway to their goal, which provides good hunting opportunities as well as opportunity for elk to be seen.