Missouri hunters might finally see an elk hunt.
Before you get too excited, remember it'll probably be a very limited elk hunt. But it's exciting news either way, considering the animals were only reintroduced to the state in 2011.
The Springfield News Leader reported that the herd of 170 elk living in the Peck Ranch Conservation area need to hit three milestones before a hunt is put in place. First, there needs to be a 25-to-100 ratio of bulls to cows, and then, the herd has to show a 10-percent growth rate for three consecutive years. The MDC also wants to see a minimum herd population of at least 200.
"Right now we have two of the three," MDC wildlife biologist Aaron Hildreth told the Springfield News-Leader. "We're seeing herd growth of 12 to 16 percent, and our bull to cow ratio is well over 25 percent. We hope to hit that 200 elk herd number in 2019 or 2020."
The MDC isn't sure yet how the first hunt will go, but there could be a mix of both firearm and archery. However, permits will be fairly expensive.
Not just anyone will be able to get one, either. Hunters will be determined via a draw system. For the first hunt, wildlife officials are expecting to only give out 5-10 permits for bulls only. With those odds, you'll probably have more luck hitting the lottery, but your chances of hunting elk in Missouri are still better than they were 10 years ago! Of course, that number of permits could increase depending on how fast the herd grows.
The MDC says they will likely hold public meetings near the Peck Ranch Conservation area to help determine who could apply and when. The public may also help influence what weapons hunters can legally use.
Ultimately, the MDC is hoping to get and keep Missouri's elk herd near 400-500 animals.