Custer County Chronicle

Home   »  Our Community

Bookmark and Share

Email This Article  

Helicopters used to move elk

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, March 7th, 2013

As evidenced by this photo, Wind Cave National Park has more than its fair share of elk, which is why state and federal officials worked together last week to move some of them out of the park. Around 200 elk were chased into Custer State Park via helicopter.

 

Wind Cave National Park is now 200 elk lighter after an operation to facilitate movement dispersed some of the park’s burgeoning elk population out of the park.
State wildlife officials directing two helicopter crews shooed the elk out of three different areas of the park in an operation that saw the helicopter crews flying as low as 15-20 feet to chase the deer out of the park. The operation was a joint state and federal project, paid for and run by the state.
John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for Game, Fish & Parks Department in Rapid City, said fence was taken down between Custer State Park and Wind Cave, and what are known as “jump gates”—gates that can be lowered to four feet so elk can jump over them—were lowered, so elk could be forced out at those openings.
“Then we close the fence behind them and lock them out, so to speak,”â��he said.
This was the first time elk have been herded in such a manner, although similar techniques are used to survey and capture elk. In fact, the crews and helicopters were already in the area doing an elk survey.
The goal was to push 400-500 elk out of the park, including 100 out of the southwest corner, 100-200 out of the northwest corner, and 200-300 out of the northeast corner. However, only 200 were coaxed out of the park, although more might be pushed out this week. The primary objective behind the operation, Kanta said, is to solve two problems—Wind Cave’s overpopulation of elk and neighboring Custer State Park’s decreasing population.
Wind Cave officials sought to reduce the park’s herd from around 950 elk down to somewhere under 500. From there, numbers will be adjusted depending on moisture and forage.

Wind Cave National Park is now 200 elk lighter after an operation to facilitate movement dispersed some of the park’s burgeoning elk population out of the park.

State wildlife officials directing two helicopter crews shooed the elk out of three different areas of the park in an operation that saw the helicopter crews flying as low as 15-20 feet to chase the deer out of the park. The operation was a joint state and federal project, paid for and run by the state.

John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for Game, Fish & Parks Department in Rapid City, said fence was taken down between Custer State Park and Wind Cave, and what are known as “jump gates”—gates that can be lowered to four feet so elk can jump over them—were lowered, so elk could be forced out at those openings.

“Then we close the fence behind them and lock them out, so to speak,”â��he said.

This was the first time elk have been herded in such a manner, although similar techniques are used to survey and capture elk. In fact, the crews and helicopters were already in the area doing an elk survey.

The goal was to push 400-500 elk out of the park, including 100 out of the southwest corner, 100-200 out of the northwest corner, and 200-300 out of the northeast corner. However, only 200 were coaxed out of the park, although more might be pushed out this week. The primary objective behind the operation, Kanta said, is to solve two problems—Wind Cave’s overpopulation of elk and neighboring Custer State Park’s decreasing population.

Wind Cave officials sought to reduce the park’s herd from around 950 elk down to somewhere under 500. From there, numbers will be adjusted depending on moisture and forage.

Available only in the print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.

 



Click Here To See More Stories Like This

Current Comments

0 comments so far (post your own)

Leave your comment:

Name:

Email:

Website:

Comments:


Enter the text as it is shown below:



Please enter text
This extra step helps prevent automated abuse of this feature. Please enter the characters exactly as you see them.
 

Note: Emails will not be visible or used in any way. Please keep comments relevant. Any content deemed inappropriate or offensive may be deleted.

Advanced Search

Keywords:


Filter Search:
Classified Ads
News Articles
Event Calendar
Archive

Date Range:
From:
To: