MADISON — With year two of Wisconsin’s elk reintroduction efforts now complete, elk from Kentucky continue to adjust to their new home in Jackson County.
The goal of this multi-year reintroduction project is to work closely with partners to establish a second elk herd in central Wisconsin and bolster the existing herd in northern Wisconsin. The 39 elk trapped in Kentucky in 2016 will be released in Jackson County, while the remaining years of this project will focus on adding up to 75 elk to the Clam Lake elk herd that was established in 1995.
Funding for Wisconsin’s elk translocation efforts is a result of key partnerships and support from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Jackson County Wildlife Fund, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and many other local partners.
“Seeing all of these partners come together with one goal in mind is really impressive,” said Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Everyone involved with elk reintroduction efforts thus far has been nothing short of spectacular to work alongside as we continue to achieve our goals and move forward on this exciting project.”
“Elk reintroduction will affect the local Jackson County economy in a positive way through tourism,” said Jay Dee Nichols, a member of the Jackson County Wildlife Fund. “The elk project and this partnership have people excited to come and see these animals.”
Prior to arriving safely in Wisconsin March 23, the elk were held in Kentucky for initial disease testing as part of a 120-day quarantine period. The elk currently reside in a quarantine pen in Jackson County, where they will remain until the quarantine period and final disease testing has concluded.
For the duration of their captivity in Wisconsin, the elk will receive expert care. Precautions taken include 24-hour monitoring, veterinary care and oversight, routines to limit exposure to stress, and daily monitoring and observations for any injuries or additional concerns.
In addition to the closed area surrounding the acclimation pen, individuals are asked to voluntarily avoid the general vicinity of the closed area until the elk are released. Minimizing human disturbance near the release site will allow the elk to adjust to their new home and will help maximize the success of reintroduction efforts.