Elk culling resumes Tuesday in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and will continue for a month as officials try to maintain an elk population between 100 and 400 animals.
The culling will be handled by park staff.
As a result of the action, the South Unit’s backcountry trails will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the time elk are being removed. Roads and overlooks, as well as Cottonwood Campground, will be open daily. The four front-country trails in the South Unit - Buck Hill, Wind Canyon, Ridgeline Nature Trail, and Coal Vein Trail - will also remain open. The park’s North and Elkhorn Ranch Units will not be affected.
"We don't anticipate any conflicts between the elk management team and the public, " said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "However, safety is always our top concern, so we are closing the backcountry for three days per week when elk removals are taking place."
Based on recent survey results, it was determined that a limited reduction would be necessary this year to ensure that future population growth remains within the target range of 100-400 animals, as specified in the Elk Management Plan. During the maintence phase in 2012, 69 elk were removed.
Meat from the animals taken during the maintenance phase will be packed out of the park and donated to local American Indian tribes and Sportsman Against Hunger through the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, in much the same way it has been done in the last three years. Park staff will continue to use only non-leaded ammunition during the reduction.