JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (Foundation) recently approved a grant request from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) for $35,000 towards the Department’s elk restoration plan. The grant was approved at the Foundation’s Feb. 25 board meeting and will help fund costs related to elk trapping, holding, disease testing, research, monitoring and transportation.
MDC has been working with the Kentucky Division of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) to trap and hold elk from eastern Kentucky. The agencies are currently conducting extensive disease testing on the several dozen elk that will form the core of Missouri’s restored elk herd. Following a 90-day quarantine period in Kentucky, the elk will be transported in late April or early May to a 346-square-mile restoration zone in Southeast Missouri covering parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. The zone has extensive public lands, minimal agricultural activity and low road density. The elk-restoration plan includes provisions for protecting Missouri wildlife and livestock from elk-borne disease and for dealing with elk that wander outside the zone onto land where they are not welcome.
“We are very grateful to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation for its support of our elk restoration efforts, and for its long-standing support of numerous conservation efforts in Missouri,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “Partnerships between government and citizen conservation groups, such as the Foundation, make it possible to achieve things beyond our separate means. It is a model that has proven successful time and again and is responsible for Missouri’s -- and America’s -- greatest conservation success stories.”
The Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization created in 1997 to meet financial demands placed on Missouri’s natural resources. Its mission is to advance the conservation and appreciation of Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife resources by matching financial resources with the priorities of donors, the Foundation and the MDC. The Foundation receives funding from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund along with funding from Conservation Heritage license plate sales, grants and individual donations.
Board Chairman Chris Nattinger explained that MDC staff apply for Foundation funding for projects they initiate or that they endorse on behalf of partner groups. These projects address priority conservation and outdoor recreation needs. The Foundation board of directors oversees funding decisions and is comprised of conservation, community and business leaders.
“The Foundation is pleased to be able to help MDC restore elk to Missouri,” said Nattinger.
“This magnificent animal is part of our natural heritage, and we think that the public as well as the ecosystem will benefit by bringing elk back to Missouri.”
Since 1997, the Foundation has provided more than $11 million for conservation and outdoor recreation. In 2010 alone, it funded 33 projects through more than $1.35 million in grants.
In addition to the Foundation grant, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged $300,000 for Missouri’s elk-restoration program and the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation has pledged $50,000.
For more information on the Foundation, visit www.mochf.org.
For more information on MDC’s elk restoration efforts, visit www.missouriconservation.org.