August 21, 2009

Public comment invited on elk management

Public comment invited on elk management
Theodore Roosevelt National Park identifies Preferred Alternative
The National Park Service (NPS) has released a preferred alternative addressing elk management at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The proposal calls for reducing the elk herd in the park from the current level of about 900 animals to a sustainable level between 100 and 400 animals using qualified NPS staff to lead teams that include skilled volunteers.
Skilled volunteers which may include North Dakota sportsmen – who must demonstrate proficiency with firearms and meet other requirements established by the park – will be used to assist park staff in the removal process. In addition, to the extent practicable, animals will be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease. If the animals test negative, the meat will be donated in accordance with federal regulations and National Park Service policy.
The program will be evaluated after two years to determine if direct reduction is effective; if it is not then other methods will be considered to supplement the efforts of the skilled volunteers.
“This approach gets the herd down to a size that park resources can sustain, allows us to test animals for Chronic Wasting Disease, and gives us the flexibility we must have to better manage all of the park’s wildlife over time,” said Acting National Park Service Director Dan Wenk. “We are grateful to all of those across North Dakota and the country who offered comments and invite them to review our preferred alternative and let us know what they think.”
This preferred alternative is the product of a public planning process that generated nearly 300 comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on the elk management plan between Dec. 17, 2008, and March 19, 2009. The preferred alternative reflects an analysis of those comments, as well as costs, efficiency, and environment impacts and uses a suite of options contained in Alternative B (direct reduction with firearms by federal employees and skilled volunteers), Alternative C (roundup and euthanasia), and Alternative D (roundup and translocation).

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