The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding and volunteer manpower to help the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) relocate elk into McCreary County. The goal is to expand the state’s herd by moving 30 to 50 animals into the Daniel Boone National Forest, a place where elk rarely ventured previously.
“It’s been a modern conservation marvel what we’ve been able to pull off here in the state,” said Rich Storm, KDFWR commissioner.
Once established, the herd is expected to grow triggering economic benefit and future hunting opportunity to the local community. Twenty-five years ago, RMEF also provided funding and volunteer assistance with the initial restoration of elk to their historic Kentucky range in 1997, as well as subsequent restoration and habitat enhancement efforts since then.
“Kentucky is really fortunate in their way of thinking of getting these elk on the ground initially. And then as those individual herds grew, moving elk to other areas,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF conservation program manager.
Crews used a helicopter to net an individual elk which was then examined and either outfitted with a transmitter, placed into a trailer for relocation to McCreary County or outfitted with a GPS collar and immediately released as part of ongoing research.
“It’s great to be able to use our own animals and expand the geographic range of the herd. And in doing so here, putting them on Forest Service property just brings another tremendous partner to the table to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife in Kentucky. We’ve got a tremendous chunk of public property there that’s available to anyone and everyone,” added Dobey.
RMEF is proud to work with KDFWR and McCreary in making this relocation possible.
(Video credit: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)