So far, so good
The elk reduction in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is going as planned, Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor said. "So far, things are going smoothly," Naylor said. Now in its third week, teams of up to five are searching out elk to kill. The go...
The elk reduction in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is going as planned, Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor said.
"So far, things are going smoothly," Naylor said.
Now in its third week, teams of up to five are searching out elk to kill.
The goal is to reduce the population by about 275 animals through the 13-week reduction period that lasts until Jan. 21, with a a break for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
About 1,100 elk currently roam the park, a number officials want to cut in half.
Unlike past elk reduction efforts, elk cannot be transported to other areas due to chronic wasting disease.
Up to 20 volunteers -- picked out of close to 5,300 applicants -- were chosen for each three-day shift that goes from Tuesday through Thursday of each week. A total of 240 volunteers were selected.
Five team leaders take up to four volunteers apiece into the field.
"We've never had a full 20," Naylor said.
The volunteers generally get the first shot, but team leaders will put a second shot into an elk if needed, Naylor said.
She said 18 volunteers participated in the first week of the reduction, 17 volunteers last week and 16 so far this week.
Besides passing a background check, volunteers need to pass a marksmanship test on the Monday prior to heading out into the park's interior.
During the first week of the reduction, 54 elk were killed. Nineteen elk were killed Tuesday and Wednesday.
"It's going well with this type of weather," Naylor said. "With blizzards and such, success will go down."
Meat is donated to American Indian tribes, charities and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Some of the meat donated to Game and Fish is given back to volunteers if they shoot an elk and complete their three-day stint.
Any elk shot by team leaders or other park personnel are donated to American Indian tribes.
"All of the tribes that have been interested in North Dakota have gotten some so far," Naylor said.