Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman Joe Jerek says that the elk will be monitored by global positioning system radio collars as part of a research project with the University of Missouri to determine movement patters and preferred types of vegetation for the herd.
Jerek says these elk are native to Missouri but were almost hunted out of the state 150 years ago. But this doesn’t mean they’ll be protected from hunters forever. Currently hunting them is prohibited, but if the population grows enough, there could be an elk season in Missouri.
The Peck Ranch Refuge Area, where the animals are living, will remain temporarily closed to the public so that the elk can adjust to their new surroundings without human disturbances. The department says they believe a few of the female elk are ready to give birth to new calves soon. Previously the elk were contained in a 3-acre reserve in the conservation area, and were released after health-testing proticols by the Department of Agriculture.