elk restoration program

Missouri Dept. of Conversation

The Missouri Department of Conservation is investigating a dead bull elk that was found mutilated in southeastern Missouri.

The agency said Wednesday in a statement that the male was one of about 130 animals that are a part of the department's efforts to restore the elk population.

The Conservation Department says the elk appears to have been shot and its skull plate and antlers removed with a chainsaw.

A hiker who saw the animal in an area along the Current River notified conservation agents Tuesday.

David Stonner / Missouri Department of Conservation

A report released on Friday by the Missouri auditor's office says the state continued to overspend on its elk restoration project, even after a 2011 audit found it was way over budget.

The current audit found the Missouri Department of Conservation spent close to $3.4 million to bring 129 elk into the state. Only an estimated 115 elk have survived.

But conservation department Deputy Director Tom Ripperger says those figures are misleading.

missouri auditor tom schweich
State of Missouri

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says his office is starting a new review of the state Department of Conservation.