From the Missouri Department of Conservation
-- Missouri's 34 restored elk, plus five new calves, were released June 1 from their three-acre holding site at the Department of Conservation's Peck Ranch Conservation Area.
The release followed final approval of stringent health-testing protocols by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
The Peck Ranch Refuge Area will remain temporarily closed to the public to allow the adult elk and new calves time to acclimate to the area with a minimum of human disturbance.
Conservation staff believe additional cows remain pregnant with calving expected anytime.
The 34 adult elk and 5 newborn calves have been fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) radio collars as part of a cooperative research project with the University of Missouri. The collars will help researchers track the elks' health, movement patterns and preferred types of vegetation.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funds for the collars. The research project is being partially funded by the Wildlife Restoration Program administered through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Thanks to successful habitat restoration and citizen, landowner and partner support, elk are back in Missouri after more than a century," said Tom Draper, deputy director. "Citizens deserve credit and should be proud. We will continue to keep the public informed as this project continues."
For more information on Missouri's elk restoration efforts, visit www.MissouriConservation.org and search elk restoration.