Hoeven, Game and Fish continue to seek alternatives for park elk planNorth Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and the State Game and Fish Department say they will continue to push for a proposal to involve North Dakota citizens in any upcoming effort to reduce the number of elk in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and the State Game and Fish Department say they will continue to push for a proposal to involve North Dakota citizens in any upcoming effort to reduce the number of elk in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
In December, the National Park Service released its draft Elk Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement listing alternatives for addressing the park’s elk population, recently estimated at slightly less than 900 animals. The alternatives are designed to reduce the park elk population to approximately 360 animals within five years or less.
The alternatives listed in the draft EIS do not include the Game and Fish Department’s plan to allow “certified volunteer sharpshooters” to remove elk from the park. Under this proposal, citizens who volunteer considerable time and expense to help the park remove elk could keep a portion of the meat.
“We have always believed that the elk are a resource of the state and therefore state citizens should be directly involved in the population management process inside park boundaries,” Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said. “We have reviewed the EIS and do not support any of the options the Park Service is now considering because there is no alternative that allows qualified people a chance to participate and keep a portion of the elk meat.”
In addition, Hoeven has discussed the issue on several occasions with the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., in an effort to find an alternative that accomplishes the goal of reducing elk in the park both effectively and economically by allowing North Dakota hunters to participate.
The Game and Fish Department views the Park Service alternatives as too expensive, too complex and not sustainable over time, Steinwand said.
“We believe the EIS should be amended to allow for the Game and Fish alternative, and if necessary, we support congressional action to change the law or agency policy so our alternative can be included,” he said.
Recently, both the North Dakota Senate and House of Representatives passed a resolution supporting the alternative promoted by Gov. Hoeven and developed by the Game and Fish Department.
The Park Service is now accepting public comments on the document, and will continue accepting comments through March 19. The draft EIS and comment instructions can be obtained by accessing http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=167&projectId=10833.
In addition, the Park Service has scheduled a series of informational meetings around the state from Feb. 23-27. Park Service personnel will be available to answer questions and record comments from 5 to 8:30 p.m. local time, with brief presentations on elk management and the planning process scheduled for 5:30 and 7.
The meetings are scheduled for:
Feb. 23, Dickinson, Grand Dakota Lodge and Convention Center
Feb. 24, Fargo, Holiday Inn
Feb. 25, Grand Forks, Canad Inn
Feb. 26, Minot, International Inn
Feb. 27, Mandan, Best Western Seven Seas Inn and Convention Center