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Arkansans harvest record number of elk thanks to statewide season

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas hunters harvested a record 55 elk during the 2016-17 hunting season, according to a report given by Wes Wright, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s elk program coordinator, at today’s monthly Commission meeting. The record tally represented a 15 percent increase in harvest from the 2015 season and was the result of the statewide elk season established in 2016 to prevent further expansion of the herd.

“We had 11 elk taken on land outside the Core Elk Management Zone,” said Wright. “Nine were in Pope County, one was in Van Buren County and one was down in Little River County.”

The elk harvested in Little River likely was an escaped animal from a captive facility, but Wright says DNA samples were taken to verify if it was linked to the Arkansas herd.

According to Wright, any deer hunter who happens to see an elk while hunting outside of the Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties) may legally take that elk with weapons legal for the season they are in.

“We had a couple of these elk taken with archery, crossbow and muzzleloader, but most came from hunters using modern guns,” Wright said.

Biologists took Chronic Wasting Disease samples from all elk harvested, and one positive case came back from a two-and-a-half-year-old bull taken in Searcy County.

“This shows a prevalence of less than 2 percent in our elk herd harvest,” Wright said. “So far, only six elk have tested positive for CWD since we first discovered the disease in Arkansas.”