I keep stumbling over interesting articles while in search of other things. I picked this article to share with the ya’ll tonight in class. It talks about the maintaining of the elk population at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
After reading the article, I did a little more research on the topic and found out that the elks were introduced to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1985. They started with only 47 elk and by 2010 there were between 900 and 1,000 inside the park. Obviously something had to be done because the environment could not support that many elk in one area. As a temporary solution the park hired 240 volunteers to go out in teams and more or less “hunt” the elk. I am weary to use the word “hunt” because when my dad and brother hunt for deer they scout a place in the wood and wait for one to happen by. Whereas, the elk volunteers only had to obtain coordinates to locate the elk that were wearing radio collars. Also, the park did not want the culling to be called a hunt because merely controlling the population.
While trying to form an opinion about this elk culling, I decided to read the comments following one of the articles I found. The first comment was a long rant about how killing off the elk is mean and they should just let nature take its course. Following that were many responses explaining all the benefits of the culling.
I concluded that l have mixed feeling about the whole situation. One one hand it does seem like the National Park Service is interfering with the circle of life by having so much control over the population of the animals. But on the other hand, the elk have no natural predators [that live in Theodore Roosevelt National Park] to help naturally control the population. There is however, a fatal neurological disease that can be passed between the animals called Chronic Wasting Disease. If the disease were to to get out of control the entire band of elk could be wiped out completely from the park. That is one of the pros to the culling and maintaining the elk population in the park.