Columbus – While our brethren to the south have rebuilt their
elk population to a sizable herd, don’t look for the species to
return to Ohio anytime soon.
Kentucky’s elk repopulation program has been well chronicled for
its success over the past decade. The Bluegrass State’s program has
been popular with hunters who are drawn from a lottery for hunts in
the eastern part of the state. Since elk was opened for hunting,
Kentucky has nearly doubled its number of lottery spots every year
as the herd continues to thrive.
Kentucky will issue 1,000 elk permits this year to residents and
Could Ohio be next in the elk game? It’s not likely, said Dave
Graham, chief of the DNR Division of Wildlife.
“There’s probably a real limiting factor (for elk) here in Ohio
and its 12 million people,” he said.
It has been mentioned that Shawnee State Forest, at about 60,000
acres in southwest Ohio, would be a good candidate for elk
reintroduction. Ohio Wildlife councilman Dominic Marchese, in
particular, has questioned the possibility.
Graham says the idea isn’t bad, but it’s just not something he
would champion right now.
“If the (Ohio) Farm Bureau says it would allow elk to be stocked
in this state, I’ll look into the feasibility,” said Graham. “But,
I am not going to be the one who brings the idea forward … That’s
been my stand all along.”
State conservation officials already have enough to deal with
given an ever growing deer herd. Elk, Graham said, isn’t high on
the discussion list, and he’s not even convinced Ohio could support
elk like it once did.
“I think it’s a real longshot that a feasibility study would
even show the ability to support even a small tourist herd, and
that’s all we would be talking about anyway,” he said “(Elk) roam
over such a large area, we could never support a huntable
The last time elk were recorded in Ohio was about 1900, about
the time deer and turkey were extirpated, said Graham.
Kentucky, he said, is in a much different situation with
millions of acres in public lands and fewer people.
“It’s a great thing for them to be able to bring elk back to the
East,” Graham said.