Kentucky’s elk restoration program is a success on many counts. The southeastern part of the state is now home to approximately 11,000 elk. A thousand people were drawn for elk hunting permits from among more than 46,000 applicants last year. Hunting and viewing opportunities are bringing much-needed dollars to the region’s economy.
However, elk can also present challenges to eastern Kentuckians. They can show up in places they aren’t welcome, such as the family garden. Landowners have several options for preventing property damage.
“As soon as you see elk, start running them off. If you let them stay around for a few days, it’s a lot harder to get them to leave,” said Tina Brunjes, big game program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “You can fire a shotgun into the air or use noisemakers from Fish and Wildlife’s private lands biologists.”
There are other solutions for landowners as well.
“The other good thing to do is to get an electric fence, if you have a small plot like a garden you’re trying to protect,” Brunjes said. “Again, the sooner you put it out there, the better.”
Feeders put out for deer will also attract elk, so take them up if you don’t want elk on your property. If possible, allow elk hunters on your land during hunting season.
“Nothing makes wildlife wild like hunting,” Brunjes noted. “Our private lands biologists can help put you in contact with hunters or develop a fencing plan for your property.”
Biologists can also provide advice over the phone or visit your land for technical guidance. Call 1-800- 858-1549 to get the name and phone number of your county’s private lands biologist, or log on to the department’s Web site at fw.ky.gov. Search under the keywords, “Wildlife Private Lands Biologists.”
Another issue eastern Kentuckians may face is potential car collisions with elk. While only a handful of elk-vehicle collisions occur each year, all motorists should exercise caution when driving in areas known to hold elk.
“If you see an elk crossing sign, take it seriously,” Brunjes said. “Open areas where the roads are in valleys surrounded by pastures are the places elk tend to congregate.”
Drive slowly and pay careful attention in these areas. Use high beam headlights at night and always wear a seat belt.
For more information on elk in Kentucky, call the department at 1-800-858- 1549 and request a free brochure. Information is also available online at fw.ky. gov; just search under the keyword “elk.”