Drought affects Mo. elk herd

Aug 3, 2012

Drought and stressful moving conditions are killing off some reintroduced elk in the Missouri Ozarks.

Missouri Department of Conservation officials estimate six adults and a few calves have died, but they say the overall herd is healthy. Between 75 and 80 are still alive. MDC biologist Lonnie Hanson says they carefully track the elks with GPS transmitters

“That whole process of disease testing, relocating and acclimating to a new environment, and you throw in the fact that there is record drought and temperatures,  it’s just something that has to be expected under these circumstances," said Hanson.

Despite the current mortality rate, Hanson is confident the elk population will do well and thrive in the Ozarks. The MDC began an elk reintroduction program last year in southeastern Missouri’s Peck Ranch Conservation Area.