Elk Hunting and Management


In 2018, Missouri Department of Conservation hosted open houses in communities around the elk management zone.

Management Plan Goals

Goal 1: Population Growth
Goal 2: Hunting and Recreation
Goal 3: Elk Range
Goal 4: Public Support


Discover Elk in the Missouri Ozarks

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Elk in Missouri Outside of the Elk Restoration Zone
elk map
  • Missouri has a long history of elk sightings throughout the state predating the elk restoration. 
  • Elk sightings are uncommon but occur every year within the state.
  • Approximately 25 to 30 reported sightings have been documented annually since 2013 when MDC began tracking confirmed reports.
  • Reported sightings have occurred in over 44 of Missouri’s 114 counties and have been documented in all parts of the state.
  • A single elk can generate multiple sightings. The 25 to 30 sightings are usually centered around 12 to 15 individual animals, annually.
  • The origins of most of these elk are unknown. They may be escapes from captive facilities, from free-ranging elk populations outside of the state, or they may be an animal that has wandered out of the elk zone counties.
  • There are free-ranging elk present in all the states bordering Missouri except for Illinois and Iowa (Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska have free-ranging elk).
  • Captive elk are held behind fences across the state.
  • MDC considers all elk outside of the elk zone to be undesirable regardless of their origins due to disease, nuisance, and other risks.
  • The fate of most reported animals is unknown. 
  • MDC has avenues to assist the public or landowners if an elk is being a nuisance, causing damage, or is otherwise unwanted.
  • MDC works closely with the Department of Agriculture in investigating elk issues or when working with elk complaints outside of the restoration zone.
  • Contact your local MDC office to report an elk sighting or to request assistance with any elk issues.
  • It is currently not legal to harvest free-ranging elk anywhere in Missouri.