Anthropologist Questions Missouri Elk Introduction

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Missouri has been working on a historic elk reintroduction for years; however as we have reported in the past not everybody is happy about the new cervids. While criticism thus far has been limited to some in the agricultural community, University of Missouri anthropologist Lee Lyman is also leveling some concerns. The Columbia Daily Tribune has a write up on Dr. Lyman's thoughts.

He said a 2002 MU study completed by a graduate student proved most prehistoric elk remains found in Missouri were in the field plains of the northwestern area of the state, not the southeast reintroduction location at Peck Ranch. “This is not elk country, in my opinion,” Lyman said. He warned the decision to put elk in a location where they did not previously live could have “unintended negative consequences that are difficult to predict.”


groovy mike's picture

It definitely is thought provoking.

 Reintroduction of elk or any game animal for that matter is always controversial.   I am in favor of letting game animals and yes even predators expand their existing range into areas that they naturally migrate to.  For instance moose are moving back into New York State after a long absence of a hundred years or more.  I don’t know if they ever actually left entirely but they were extremely rare if they managed to hide for a hundred years.  But the in state population is now made up of not only moose that wander in from Vermont and Canada but also resident moose that breed and raise calves inside of New York State.  I think this is a wonderful development.  Yes there will be moose car collisions in the North Country but God willing there will also someday be moose hunting in New York State.  If feral pigs want to move into southern New York State I’m also all for that too.  I know that farmers will hate them and that there will be moves to eradicate them, but it would mean another big game species available to new Yorkers and that’s a good thing in my book.  So too would wolves be.  They would prey on deer and any pigs and moose besides, but to my mind that just means more wolf hunting opportunity to keep the wolf population is strictly limited numbers.

But artificially introducing animals is something else entirely.  This goes beyond introducing them into an area that they once were and have been pushed out of. But there are also instances of introducing animals where they have never been before.   In the past these has worked out very well.  Look at the moose hunting in New Foundland Canada and the Roosevelt Island elk of today.  But it has also been disastrous as in the Australian rabbit plague.  So what to do?  I’m not sure.  I think we need to examine each potential introduction or reintroduction of species very carefully and proceed with caution.  There is room for everyone’s voice to be heard before any pilot program takes place and when any introduced population is very small (and reversible).

Thanks for the information on Missouri’s elk and the debate there-of.  It definitely is thought provoking. 


hunter25's picture

I don't think that there is

I don't think that there is really a big risk here as he seams to think. We have many many states now that have gone this direction with no huge negative results. I'm sure the herd management goals will keep things pretty well under control. We have a few more here in Colorado than anybody else erver will and we do all right. Pointing out that prehistoric evidence does not show them in that are means nothing really as a lot of things regardin habitat have changed a bit.

I say go for it and join the multitude of states that have done so already. I'm waiting for another world record to show up in one of these non traditional states soon where the elk can get better feed and not have to work so hard to survive.