State won't receive elk this year
By BOB HODGE, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 25, 2007
There will be no new elk on Royal Blue or Sundquist wildlife management areas this year.
United States Department of Agriculture has denied Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's appeal of an earlier decision barring elk from Elk Island National Park in Canada from coming to Tennessee.
A thumbs down to the appeal was expected by TWRA. Elk Island, located in Alberta, had 140 elk ready for transport to Tennessee but will release them back into the wild.
"We will get more elk, just not this year," said Greg Wathen, chief of wildlife for TWRA. "We still believe Elk Island is the safest place for us to get elk."
TWRA has also nixed plans to get about 30 elk from Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. The technicality USDA cited that would stop elk coming in from Elk Island would likely be used to stop those from LBL as well.
Since 1937 Elk Island has provided over 2,700 elk for restoration projects around the world. Wathen said the elk that were supposed to come to Tennessee had all tested negative for brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis and 50 of them had been outfitted with radio tracking collars.
"We feel like Elk Island has the safest wild herd in North America," Wathen said. "The USDA rules are for captive elk and they really don't fit wild animals very well."
Wathen said TWRA will be out the approximately $100,000 already spent on the relocation project.