Missouri ponders 2020 elk hunt
Since elk were reintroduced to Missouri in 2011, herds have experienced steady growth, which may result in a limited hunt in only two short years if numbers continue as expected. There are currently about 170 adult elk within the Peck Ranch Conservation area and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologist Aaron Hildreth says that healthy calf recruitment underway. However, according to the Springfield News-Leader, Hildreth stressed to the Missouri Conservation Commission that in order to hold a hunt in 2020 the following criteria must to be met:
- A minimum population of 200 elk;
- An elk herd growth rate of a minimum of 10% for three consecutive years; and
- A ratio of 25 bulls to every 100 cows to guarantee herd growth.
The good news? Herds are pretty close to compliance.
“Right now we have two of the three,” Hildreth told the Springfield News-Leader. “We’re seeing herd growth of 12 to 16 percent, and our bull to cow ration is well above 25 percent. We hope to hit that 200 elk herd number in 2019 or 2020.”
In fact, MDC wants to increase the herd to roughly 400 to 500 elk. Should a hunt occur in 2020, there will only be between five and 10 permits offered and they will be for bull elk only. While the rules and regulations are still in progress, Hildreth says the elk permits may cost more than the state’s deer permits, but pricing has not yet been determined.
“We know the permit draw odds are not good — there will be far more interest from people seeking a permit than available permits,” says Hildreth. “This will also be a very dynamic process.”
And, if the population spikes dramatically, more permits will likely be available. MDC is working towards establishing possible regulations for a probable hunt.
“If the population is at a point that it could sustain a harvest, we'll be ready with our regulations,” says Hildreth.
Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.