The plan calls for continued habitat management on public lands and cost share incentives for private landowners wanting to attract elk to their land in the restoration zone. Since 2000, there have been significant habitat improvements on public land in the restoration zone that will benefit elk.
Organizations including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and theAppalachian Wildlife Foundation have committed to contributing financial resources and volunteer time to help with elk restoration in Missouri.
Director Robert Ziehmer said the Department has actively engaged citizens and organizations to gather input on elk restoration. “A key component of Missouri’s plan is the defined restoration zone. Given habitat within this zone, the limited number of elk to be released, established health protocols, monitoring commitment, and solid citizen and landowner support, implementation will provide natural-resource and recreational benefits,” said Ziehmer.
Elk restoration programs in Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have successfully restored limited elk populations with economic benefits through wildlife viewing and hunting.
Jim Smith, owner of Cross Country Trail Ride in Eminence, said restoring elk to the Missouri Ozarks will help his business by extending the tourism season. “The natural beauty, abundant wildlife and crystal clear streams draw people to the Ozarks. Restoring elk will be an extra attraction.”
Elk are native to the Show-Me State but were gone by the mid-1800s, due to unregulated hunting and habitat changes.