13,000 volunteer to shoot elk at TRNPMEDORA (AP) — More than 13,000 people in 38 states have volunteered to shoot elk this fall to reduce the herd at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.
MEDORA (AP) — More than 13,000 people in 38 states have volunteered to shoot elk this fall to reduce the herd at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.
Eileen Andes, a National Park Service spokeswoman, said the agency “knew we’d get a bunch” of applicants, but the overwhelming response was surprising.
The deadline to volunteer passed at midnight Monday. By month’s end, officials expect to pick 260 volunteers at random. Each must pass a background check and marksmanship test.
More than 900 elk have been roaming the park’s south unit, which is more than twice as many as park officials want.
The plan to use volunteers developed after U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and the state Game and Fish Department objected to Park Service plans to use federal sharpshooters to kill the elk.
“We’ll save money. We’re not going to pay federal sharpshooters. Nobody’s going to have to helicopter out the meat,” Dorgan said Tuesday. “And, frankly, some good, qualified hunters in North Dakota are going to have some good days tromping through the Badlands.”
The plan calls for hunters to be divided into five-person teams supervised by the Park Service. Four teams will hunt each week for 13 weeks, starting in November.
Park officials hope they will kill 275 elk in the first round. If they succeed, the same number of elk will be killed in each of the following four years.
The culling effort is expected to cost more than $1 million over five years. Officials have said if the idea works in North Dakota, it could be used in other national parks where there are too many elk.