In an effort to keep their overall elk population between 100 and 400 individuals, crews at Theodore Roosevelt National Park have been culling some elk from the park in recent weeks.
The park's Elk Management Plan, adopted in 2010, saw volunteers work with park crews to bring the population down from more than 1,200 to fewer than 300 following culling operations in 2010 and 2011 that were complemented by hunting on the public lands surrounding the park.
Now working under the "maintenance phase" provided for in the management plan, park crews removed 21 antlerless elk from the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the past two weeks.
Intensive ground surveys conducted during the month of October showed the minimum number of elk in the park to be 215, according to Superintendent Valerie Naylor. Although the number of elk in the park is likely higher, the park bases all management actions on the minimum number. There are also elk outside of the park which were not included in the park’s population count.
“Although our major elk reduction efforts concluded last year, it is necessary to remove a small number of elk this year to ensure that future population growth remains within the population objective of 100-400 animals, as specified in the Elk Management Plan," the superintendent said in a release. "We have excellent data on the numbers and movements of elk in the park, and are proceeding cautiously to ensure that we maintain a healthy population in the park.”
Removal operations for 2012 will end on December 6.