TRNP seeks volunteers to haul elk meatTheodore Roosevelt National Park will cull its growing elk herd this fall, and volunteers are needed to help shoot the animals and haul the carcasses.
MEDORA (AP) — Theodore Roosevelt National Park will cull its growing elk herd this fall, and volunteers are needed to help shoot the animals and haul the carcasses.
The park in the western North Dakota’s Badlands has scheduled the elk-reduction effort for late fall. Teams of park staff and volunteers will shoot cow elk, with “packers” loading the carcasses onto horses and mules for transport to the park’s cold storage. The meat will be donated to food pantries.
The park is now seeking volunteer packers to help transport the elk carcasses, superintendent Valerie Naylor said. Details on applying for shooting spots will be released later this month.
“Having packers assist with the removal of elk meat from the field will allow the volunteer teams more time to concentrate on reducing the number of elk in the park,” Naylor said. “It will make our operation as efficient as possible.”
The culling isn’t expected to begin until at least Nov. 1, but packers will be needed starting in mid-October, when park staff is testing the culling plan.
Prospective volunteers must register online as a contractor — at http://www.bpn.gov/ — and fill out an online application at https://orca.bpn.gov/.
The culling is the result of a lengthy dispute between state officials and the National Park Service about how to deal with the bloated elk herd at the park, which covers about 70,000 acres.
The ideal elk population at the park is 100 to 400, but park officials said in March that it had swelled to about 950.
Forty-seven elk were reintroduced in the North Dakota park in 1985. A 2003 moratorium prohibits the park from moving the elk because of chronic wasting disease in other states.