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Contact: Eileen Andes, 701-623-4466
Contact: Bill Whitworth, 701-623-4466
MEDORA, ND: The National Park Service will resume the maintenance phase of the Elk Management Plan in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A limited number of elk will be removed by park staff beginning October 20 and, if required, the reduction period could extend into late January. Use of volunteers was considered, but will not be necessary during this phase.
The South Unit's backcountry trails will not be closed during the time the elk are being removed. To provide greater flexibility and take advantage of favorable weather conditions and staff availability, reduction activities could take place on any day of the week. Cottonwood Campground, and all roads, overlooks, and trails in the South Unit will remain open.
"We don't anticipate conflicts between the elk reduction team and the public, even without backcountry closures," said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "Four years of successful reductions indicate that visitor safety can be maintained by using fewer highly experienced staff during this period of reduced visitation."
Based on annual survey results and projected growth, it was determined that a maintenance action would again be necessary to ensure the elk population remains within the target range of 100 to 400 animals, as specified in the Elk Management Plan. During the maintenance phase in 2013, 46 elk were removed;at least 20 cow elk are expected to be removed this year. Although not required, staff will continue to test culled elk for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to support North Dakota's monitoring effort of this infectious disease. The park is and has been CWD free.
Elk meat will be packed out of the park and donated to Sportsmen Against Hunger through the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, as has been done for the last four years. Park staff will continue to use only lead free ammunition during the reduction.