Nature Conservancy Upset By Elk Killings

Wednesday, April 11th 2007, 9:16 pm
By: News On 6

Four elk were shot and killed last Friday after wandering off the Nature Conservancy's preserve in Adair County. Two other elk were killed after straying from the preserve in February. The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports these both of these shootings were legal.

All six elk were shot by ranchers who say the animals wandered onto their property. In both cases, the ranchers did have the approval of state authorities before opening fire.

After being hunted out of the state long ago, elk were reintroduced to Oklahoma two years ago. The Nature Conservancy had hoped they would develop into a self-sustaining herd, but their numbers are already dwindling.

The six elk killed were among the 60 that roam the 15,000 acre J.T. Nickel Preserve in Adair County. After receiving complaints from the preserve's neighbors that the animals had appeared on their land, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation granted landowners permits to kill 20 of them.

The Nature Conservancy, which runs the preserve, says while it is legal for ranchers with permits to shoot elk, it would prefer they call the conservancy before doing so. That way its employees could have the chance to herd them back onto the preserve, and ensure the elk will not disappear from Oklahoma once again.

The rancher who shot those four elk declined to comment. He told the “Tahlequah Daily Press” he did not enjoy shooting the animals, but he couldn't allow them to continue eating his hay.