Arkansas elk har­vest a record

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION -

Arkansas hunters killed a record 55 elk dur­ing the 2016-17 hunt­ing sea­son, ac­cord­ing to Wes Wright, the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion’s elk pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor.

The tally rep­re­sented a 15 per­cent in­crease in har­vest from the 2015 sea­son and was the re­sult of the statewide elk sea­son es­tab­lished in 2016 to pre­vent fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the herd.

“We had 11 elk taken on land out­side the Core Elk Man­age­ment Zone,” Wright said at the monthly com­mis­sion meet­ing held Feb. 16 in Lit­tle Rock. “Nine were in Pope County, one was in Van Buren County and one was down in Lit­tle River County.”

The elk har­vested in Lit­tle River likely was an es­caped an­i­mal from a cap­tive fa­cil­ity, but Wright says DNA sam­ples were taken to ver­ify if it was linked to the Arkansas herd.

Any deer hunter who hap­pens to see an elk while hunt­ing out­side of the Core Elk Man­age­ment Zone (Boone, Car­roll, Madi­son, New­ton and Searcy coun­ties) may legally kill that elk with weapons le­gal for the sea­son they are in, ac­cord­ing to Wright.

“We had a cou­ple of th­ese elk taken with archery, cross­bow and muz­zle-loader, but most came from hunters us­ing mod­ern guns,” he said.

Bi­ol­o­gists took Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease sam­ples from all elk killed, and one pos­i­tive case came back from a twoand-a-half-year-old bull taken in Searcy County.

“This shows a preva­lence of less than 2 per­cent in our elk herd har­vest,” Wright said. “So far, only six elk have tested pos­i­tive for CWD since we first dis­cov­ered the dis­ease in Arkansas.”

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