Elk management workshops are canceled in Medora and Bismarck
The alternative development workshops on elk management for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) have been canceled. The meetings were the starting point to get public input on six alternatives park staff has come up with to gain better co...
The alternative development workshops on elk management for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) have been canceled.
The meetings were the starting point to get public input on six alternatives park staff has come up with to gain better control over the growing number of elk in the South Unit of the park. The meetings were originally scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 21, in Medora and Thursday, Feb. 22, in Bismarck.
The announcement of the meetings cancelled came in a recent park press release.
"We scheduled the workshops to allow interested members of the public an opportunity to help refine the draft alternatives that we had developed for elk management in Theodore Roosevelt National Park," said TRNP Superintendent Valerie Naylor in the press release. "However, due to the sudden announcement that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is no longer a cooperating agency in this process, we believe it will be more productive to conduct workshops or public meetings at a later date."
The National Park Service (NPS) is developing an Elk Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement to analyze a range of options on how to deal with the growing elk population.
The six alternatives the park staff proposes includes doing nothing and monitoring the elk, bringing in sharpshooters and removing carcasses by helicopter, euthanasia, translocation, using fertility control agents with no meat residue and multi-year efficacy or combining euthanasia for initial reduction and sharp shooting for ongoing future management.
Translocation of elk without testing for chronic wasting disease was eliminated as an option by the NPS in a 2003 national moratorium. Moving elk to the North Unit would not help control the population long-term, reintroduction of predators and total removal of all or most elk would unbalance the ecosystem. Reproductive control alone is not effective and a reproductive agent is not yet available for elk at this time.
The game and fish department has asked the park to include an alternative that allows public participation in removing elk from the park, stated the press release.
"We are disappointed that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is unable to support alternatives that do not involve some form of public hunting in the park," said Naylor in the press release. "However, we understand that the mission of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is different from that of the National Park Service and we respect their position."
It would take an act of Congress to change the laws of hunting in national parks, including the TRNP, which deems hunting an unreasonable or illegal alternative the park could pursue for their impact statement.
In a previous Press article, Naylor and other staff have ascertained the elk population issue is a complex one and multi-faceted.
"We support hunting outside the boundaries of the national park," Naylor said. "All of the alternatives we are considering include working with the state to maximize elk hunting opportunities outside park boundaries."
The press release stated the impact statement process will continue on schedule.
In previous Press articles, Naylor is hoping to have the statement finished in 2008 and putting the chosen plan into action no later than 2009.
Public meetings on the draft alternatives will now be scheduled throughout the state when the impact state is completed.
Naylor did not return phone calls by press time. The TRNP Chief of Interpretation Bruce Kaye and Chief Ranger Tom Cox were unavailable for comment.