Wisconsin DNR plans to move elk this springThe Department of Natural Resources is hoping to move a dozen elk by spring to expand the herd to new areas in northern Wisconsin.
By: Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio
The Department of Natural Resources is hoping to move a dozen elk by spring to expand the herd to new areas in northern Wisconsin.
The mild winter has been good to the state’s lone elk herd. The herd was transplanted to northern Wisconsin from Michigan when 25 elk were moved in 1995 to the Sawyer-Ashland-Bayfield county area of the Chequamegon National Forest. Now that herd numbers 160, its highest number for this late in the winter.
Elk biologist Laine Stowell said the DNR is trapping a dozen elk to move them five miles east along the Moose River in Sawyer County.
“So we’re basically helping them to move across the elk range,” he said. “We’ve got a 1,112-square-mile elk range, and the elk are only occupying about 87 square miles of that. So we’ve been moving them to different locations around the elk range.”
Stowell said they move yearlings because they haven’t planted roots yet and are more apt to stay in a new location.
“We expected these elk to shift around more than they do,” he said. “And, frankly, our results are similar to what’s been seen in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and that is that these eastern elk are more sedentary. They have all of their needs close at hand. They don’t disperse much.”
Ultimately, Stowell said they’d like the elk herd to be spread out from Price County to Ashland, Bayfield and Sawyer counties.
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