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National Parks take heat over reducing elk numbers

Mike Rule, wildlife biologist, shows how elk have been eating all the aspen shoots on Turnbull Naitonal Wildlife Refuge except those in the fenced enclosure behind him. Russell Frobe of the Friends of Turnbull is at right. Photo by Rich Landers/The Spokesman-Review  Photo by Rich Landers/The Spokesman-Review (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)
Mike Rule, wildlife biologist, shows how elk have been eating all the aspen shoots on Turnbull Naitonal Wildlife Refuge except those in the fenced enclosure behind him. Russell Frobe of the Friends of Turnbull is at right. Photo by Rich Landers/The Spokesman-Review Photo by Rich Landers/The Spokesman-Review (Rich Landers / The Spokesman-Review)

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- An annual elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and a volunteer-based "elk reduction" project in western North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park got underway this month amid public criticism, reports the Wildlife Management Institute

The issue is developing across several national parks as elk populations continue to grow.  It mirrors similar issues seen with deer populations in the East and even the new hunt -- underway in its second season -- at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney.

Critics contend that the culling programs are counter to the National Park Service and national wildlife refuge system mission to preserve wildlife within their units. 

However, the agencies contend that damage to native habitats that occurs when ungulate populations are too high warrants the culling operations.



Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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