Missouri conservation officials say they are pleased with the way a three-year effort to restore elk to the southeastern part of the state is going.
The last group of elk arrived at the Peck Ranch conservation area this spring, bringing the total to around 100 animals.
Department of Conservation resource scientist Lonnie Hansen says the state will start controlling the population when it reaches about 400 elk.
Until then, the focus is on keeping the animals healthy.
"What we need to do is provide make sure we provide adequate food and cover for them," he says. "In other words, we’re doing some habitat management to improve the forage down there for them."
Hansen says the department is pleased with the way things are going, despite some bumps.
“One of the bumps for example was bringing them in last year and introducing them, or releasing them into drought conditions, and that was hard on them and we had a higher mortality than we’d like,” he says.
Hansen says the department will focus now on making sure the elk have adequate food at Peck Ranch. He says the conversation department will shift to management, mostly through controlled hunts, when the population reaches between 400 and 500 elk.