Theodore Roosevelt National Park Announces Plan to Use Volunteers to Help Cull Elk Herd

Rangers and volunteers could be hunting elk in Theodore Roosevelt National Park this fall in a bid to reduce the burgeoning elk herd

Park rangers and volunteer hunters could begin work this fall to cull elk herds at Theodore Roosevelt National Park by more than half if the park's elk management plan gains final approval in about a month.

That's the plan contained in the National Park Service's preferred alternative in the Environmental Impact Statement issued on the elk management plan this week. You can find a copy of the document at this site.

“We are approaching the last step in the planning process for elk management in the park. The plan will allow us to proceed with management of the elk population so that park resources are protected,” said Superintendent Valerie Naylor.

An annual aerial survey conducted last week showed the number of elk in the North Dakota park to be approximately 950. Although the park objective for elk in the South Unit is 200 - 400, the higher numbers are not currently causing measurable changes in the park vegetation or environment, officials said.

The purpose of the EIS is to disclose the alternatives considered for managing elk numbers in the park, including the preferred alternative, and their impacts on the human environment. The Final EIS addresses more than 11,500 comments received on the preferred alternative, which was released in August 2009 and incorporates other public comments received following the release of the Draft EIS in December 2008. The Final EIS is not open to public comment.

The EIS identifies a preferred alternative that primarily would involve park employees leading teams of volunteer shooters to reduce the elk herd in the South Unit of the park. The alternative also gives the park the ability to use other methods if the volunteer effort is unsuccessful in reducing the elk numbers to meet park population objectives.

In the next few days, the National Park Service will publish a Notice of Availability for the EIS in the Federal Register. Shortly thereafter, a Notice of Availability will also be published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Thirty days after the official EPA Notice of Availability of the Elk Management Plan appears in the Federal Register, a Record of Decision can be signed by the Midwest Regional Director of the National Park Service.

The earliest implementation period for elk reduction efforts would be in the fall of 2010.

Comments

The park has always been very specific not to call the volunteers "hunters." The plan does not allow them to keep any part of the animals they remove. People can still hunt elk outside the park; federal law prohibits hunting inside the park.

I think finally they got it right! Hunting is the least expensive way of reducing numbers, and it gives people an opportunity that otherwise might not have one to hunt this beautiful animal and provide some of the world's best meat for their families. Way to go Nodak!!!

Anonymous, this approach might not be exactly as you envision it. Volunteers are picked by the park to help with the culling, and the meat -- if the elk test negative for chronic wasting disease -- would be donated to groups. The volunteers would not be able to take it home.

Beyond that, I don't think the culling operations will be similar to actual hunts you might go on in national forests.

Tonight (7/25/2010) the news carried notice of plans to hold the cull in November, but gave no details about the application process.
Anybody know any more details?

Dan: You'll find the information you need at this site. Good luck.

Well you are wrong.....they are not hunters because they do not get to have the thrill of stalking and deciding which to shoot or to pass on a shot. They are guided by a park employee and told what one to hunt. They DO have the option to take a portion of the meat (up to one carcass) home with them if they so chose to.