A Good Day in Elk Country

Published on: Jan. 25, 2011

“It was a good day, a big day, a day I’ve been thinking about for awhile.” So said Jason Sumners late this afternoon as he and MDC’s other deer/elk expert, Lonnie Hansen, walked and slid down a muddy hill in the Cumberland Mountains of southeastern Kentucky. They and a dozen other workers for MDC and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources were tired but satisfied with their day’s work--conducting veterinary workups of elk destined to replenish their species in the Missouri Ozarks. A lot was riding on their work. The job had to be done before a three-month quarantine to ensure the animals’ health, and the quarantine needs to be completed and the elk settled in Missouri before cows begin dropping calves. You could sense the high stakes in the urgent shouts, the calming whispers and the infectious laughter of crews trying to get elk in and out of a squeeze chute fast, with minimal stress. Wild elk get panicky around people, even when they aren’t being pushed down narrow metal corridors, getting poked with needles and having tags clipped to their ears. They bucked, kicked, barked, grunted and occasionally sounded as if they were cussing the vets. It was tense, strenuous, sometimes dangerous work, even for dedicated conservationists. It also was heady stuff, knowing they were making conservation history. The Kentucky crew was “paying it forward” for the elk given to the Bluegrass State for its elk-restoration program years ago. Hansen, Sumners and the other Missourians knew they were helping return the sound of bugling bull elk to Ozark hills that have not echoed with that sound for a century and a half. For them, that is the definition of a good day.

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Comments

On February 20th, 2011 at 1:15am Anonymous said:

I have lived in Missouri all my life and can't wait for the restoration program to be in full swing. My biggest fear is the potential for poaching in that area. I am in hopes that the state plans on having a few extra game wardens working the area to help deter the potential disaster

On January 27th, 2011 at 1:34pm Pete said:

I've been working with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming for the last 8 months and moving back to Missouri soon. I'm so happy to hear that elk are being re-introduced there. I absolutely love the sound of an Elk's bugle and I can't wait to visit the area, not to mention how much I can't wait for the first Elk tag to go up for drawing. I'll surely take part in that.

On January 26th, 2011 at 9:06am dwayne said:

im very excited about this and have been reading all information you put out on it . love the idea to be able to drive a short drive and hear an elk in the wild . i have always wanted to hear that sound on something becides a tv show . keep up the good work . and thank you to alll the people who helped in this cause
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