Meetings planned around N.D. on park elk planTheodore Roosevelt National Park is holding public meetings on its draft plan to reduce the park’s elk herd, while North Dakota wildlife officials continue lobbying for a new option. State lawmakers also have entered into the debate.
MEDORA, N.D. (AP) — Theodore Roosevelt National Park is holding public meetings on its draft plan to reduce the park’s elk herd, while North Dakota wildlife officials continue lobbying for a new option. State lawmakers also have entered into the debate.
The meetings this week are in Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Mandan and Medora. The goal is to gather public comments, park officials said.
The elk herd in the park’s south unit has grown to more than double the preferred size. Park officials are considering ways to reduce the number of animals. The options include volunteer shooters or relocating elk after checking them for disease, as well as rounding up elk and euthanizing them.
Public comments are being accepted until March 19. The National Park Service will name its preferred option sometime after that.
The state Game and Fish Department disagrees with all the options, saying they are too expensive, too complex and not sustainable over time.
The agency also says hunters should be able to kill the elk and keep 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 (park plan) 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.”
The Park Service has said Congress does not allow hunting in the park. Both the North Dakota House and Senate have passed a resolution urging Congress to change the law or Interior Department policy.
The resolution is HCR3007
On the Net:
Meetings information: http://www.nps.gov/thro/parknews/park-schedules-public-meetings-on-e lk-manag ement-plan.htm