On Verge Of Starving, Elk Find New Owner

Thursday, January 24th 2008, 4:16 pm
By: News On 6

A Green Country elk herd, in danger of being put down, will now be saved. The herd is in Sequoyah County and the caretaker says the elk faced the possibility of starvation. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports the herd's situation was looking pretty dire. The herd was set to be handed over to the state, and possibly put down, but officials say the owner was able to strike a deal, and the elk will not be killed.

Ninety elk roam property near Roland in Sequoyah County, where The News On 6 first visited last week.

Danny Johnson was hired a year and a half ago to look after the herd by its owner, John Mumey of Bixby. But he says Mumey vanished, leaving him to pay $800 a month for elk feed.

"The landowner has disappeared over the past four, five months. I can't find him, get a hold of him. So I've been taking care of the animals," said Johnson.

Johnson says this is a situation he never intended to get involved with, but he's grown close to the elk over the past year and a half, he says he'll do whatever it takes to make sure they don't starve.

The landowner did re-emerge recently though. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry say Mumey recently bought several tons of food. He also brokered a deal to sell the elk to another private landowner.

State officials say none of the animals will be put down which is good news for locals who enjoy feeding them.

"I don't think they should be put down. Let somebody take care of them. They're beautiful creatures," said Sequoyah County resident LaDonna Bush.

Despite the fact that someone will now take care of them, Johnson still bears some ill will towards Mumey, and says the elk never should have been put in this position.

"I would like to get him, and let him go hungry for a few days, and see what it felt like," said Johnson.

Johnson tells The News On 6 that he has never been paid in the year and a half he has worked for Mumey. The state says it can't divulge who exactly is buying the 90 elk. But officials say the new owner is more than qualified to take care of them.

Last week, John Mumey did agree to do an interview, but he stopped returning calls and did not show up.