The winds of change are coming. I've been in touch with Mr Kurt Flack, the Regional Director of southern WI and Iowa for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and from what he tells me, the future of Wisconsin's elk is starting to look up.
The plan right now is to get 50 elk from Elk Island Nation Park, Alberta Canada. 25 elk, mostly females to supplement the Clam Lake herd. 25 more to put in Black River Falls for our 2nd herd. We have another partner who also is in line for 100 elk from EINP, the state of Tennessee is standing with Wisconsin to fight the transportation laws holding up both states. We are getting closer.
EINP is a 48,000 square miles of fenced in habitat. You can read more about EINP here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elk_Island_National_Park
Next week Mr Flack and Mr Warnke (Chief biologist for WI DNR) will be sitting down together and I have been assured that the new live CWD test will be discussed as another possibe tool to get the job done. Even with out the live CWD test, we believe we are winnng the battle and getting our elk maybe sooner than expected. We have elk and deer breeders (DATCP) who have a lot of pull in Madison fighting against us. The conflict in short simple english is that to transport elk from a herd, domestic or wild, every animal in the herd has to be marked and every animal that dies with in the herd has to be CWD tested. This is impossible, even for our small 150 elk herd, so Wisconsin can not even move our 150 elk, much less tagging and testing every elk in EINP, 48,000 square miles of elk habitat. EINP is fenced in, has never had CWD in the herd, it is the safest herd to draw from in north America.
The biggest question I get asked about Wisconsin elk is how long will it take before we can start hunting? We have about 150 elk in Clam Lake right now. After the calf drop we should have between 160 - 170 elk. HUNTING STARTS AT 200 ELK! WE ARE CLOSE! Here is a quote from Mr Flack,
"As for a hunting season, right now the plan calls for a season at 200 huntable animals. We are hoping that will come within a few years. There has been some discussion about dropping that number, because we have more then enough bulls to expand the herd. I don't know what will happen with that. Either way, when there is a hunt, 10 tags will be made available. 5 go to the Native American Tribes by Federal Law (we do get a lot of grief for that, but it not our doing, nor can we do anything about it), 4 go to the DNR, and 1 goes to RMEF to use for fundraising that will stay in Wisconsin for elk. That tag will be used in a raffle. We decided that to make sure every person in Wisconsin get a a chance at it, rather then in an auction, where one wealthy person does. That part of the plan lasts for 5 years."
I don't have to do the math for you I'm sure, but 150 elk + 50 elk = the start of hunting elk! Sure it's a small number of tags but it's a start and it could happen very soon. 20 years from now, that small start should be a full blown hunting opportunity for our children and grandchildren. With the new LIVE CWD test, once proven, we could add more tested elk yearly which would get us to a full blown elk hunting season even faster.
For those of you hunters who thought elk hunting could never happen in Wisconsin, think again. RMEF has spent over $5 million in Wisconsin and our DNR has also spent millions to get us this far. With that much invested, nobody is giving up. If there ever was a time for Wisconsin hunters to get involved, the time is now. Join Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation now. The more support we can get now, the sooner we'll all get a chance to hunt elk in Wisconsin. We've gotten this far without a lot of support from Wisconsin hunters, it's time we do our share and contribute. A $35 membership has never gone so far, that money will help to get new elk for our herd, help the DNR set aside more public hunting land in Wisconsin for all hunters, help restore habitat in Wisconsin and help provide public education in our state. On top of all of that, your $35 membership fee is also tax deductible so you get your money back plus all these benefits and more. Go to http://www.rmef.org/ and sign up right now. You will not be sorry.