Yes, there are mountains in Oklahoma. Yes, there are elk in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) is considering relocating elk to their historic range in the Arbuckle Mountains approximately 80 miles south of Oklahoma City.
One very vocal proponent is country music star Blake Shelton, a hunter and member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation, an organization created to support ODWC.
“Hearing a bull elk’s bugle roll across the landscape in the fall is truly a wonder of nature. It’s a majestic, electrifying symbol of the wild,” Shelton said in a statement provided to The Oklahoman. “There were elk roaming the Arbuckles long before Oklahoma was a state. There are even some elk here today, and I mean, I love this place and it’s my home today. I’d love to see elk restored to the landscape.”
ODWC estimates there are about 5,000 elk in Oklahoma and documented wild, free-ranging elk in nearly half of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
“Any time you talk about putting an animal on a landscape, even though it was historically there, we are not going to do that without all the due diligence,” J.D. Strong, ODWC director, told The Oklahoman. “If this project happens, it will be through the support of landowner conservationists and funding from people who want to support their passions through a group like the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation.”
(Photo sources: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation)