CARTER COUNTY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will close the refuge portion of Peck Ranch Conservation Area to turkey hunting to permit the third stage of the Department’s elk restoration project. Hunters who normally hunt on the area’s wildlife refuge portion will need to make alternate plans for the 2013 spring turkey season. The refuge will be closed from April 1 until July 1.
“This means no turkey hunting, Ozark trail hiking, auto tours, hiking, etc. in the refuge,” said Preston Mabry, the area’s manager. “This is will allow for animal health and safety of elk being released and elk calving season.”
Mabry said hunting is still allowed on approximately 12,000 acres outside the marked refuge fence.
In cooperation with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), MDC is restoring this once-native species to an area that includes Peck Ranch.
According to Mabry, newly restored elk at Peck Ranch are a continuation of the area’s rich tradition in species restoration. The refuge was vital to restoring the thundering gobble of the wild turkey back the Ozark hills. That gobble is now joined by the bugling of elk.
“Turkey season is a time we spend all year looking forward to and we certainly thank hunters for understanding and for doing their part to help create an area free of disturbance so this second portion of the elk herd can become acclimated to their new home,” Mabry said.
Hunters are welcome to hunt outside the refuge. Maps of the area are available at mdc.mo.gov or at the Peck Ranch CA Headquarters. The fenced refuge area is clearly marked, he said.
MDC established Peck Ranch CA in 1945 for wild turkey management. For over 30 years, MDC has used diverse management techniques, including prescribed fire and timber harvests, to maintain and restore natural communities there. This has created habitat for a wide range of native wildlife.
For more information, call the Peck Ranch CA headquarters at (573)323-4249 or go online to mdc.mo.gov.