• Dennis McCaslin

AG&FC reports 53 elk harvested during 2017 regular season hunts



Arkansas hunters have taken 53 elk during the 2017 regular elk hunts, and more may be harvested by the end of hunting season, thanks to regulations passed to help contain the elk herd to Boone Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties.

Eighteen of the elk taken were harvested by hunters who drew permits for public land during this year’s Jasper Elk Festival in June. Another 33 elk were taken on private land during Elk Management Assistance Program quota hunts. Two elk also were taken by deer hunters outside the Core Elk Management Zone.

All permit-based public land hunts and private land quota hunts are complete; however, any elk spotted outside the Core Elk Management Zone still may be taken during an open deer season with weapons legal for that season.

According to Wes Wright, AGFC elk program coordinator, youth hunters have taken full advantage of the early youth season for the second year in a row, with seven of the elk taken during youth hunts.

“The weekend youth hunts let the kids get out and enjoy the elk hunt without missing any school,” Wright said. “It also gives them the first shot at the elk. If they don’t get an elk during the weekend, they still can hunt during the weeklong hunt after, if it’s OK with their parents to skip a class or two.”

AGFC biologists took biological samples from all elk harvested during the hunt to track DNA of the herd and test for chronic wasting disease as part of the standard protocol that has been in place for many years. This protocol was responsible for the first detection of CWD in Arkansas, even though it had possibly been in Arkansas for many years prior to its discovery.

“Three elk so far this season were confirmed with CWD,” said Wright. “All hunters who turned in a positive sample were notified and we incinerated the meat for the hunters in the cases where they wanted us to dispose of it. All three elk were taken on private land enrolled in the Elk Management Assistance Program, and the hunters who shot them will be allowed to come back next year as long as they retain the land owner’s permission.”

A second batch of CWD samples has been submitted for testing from the second segment of elk season, and Wright says hunters with any CWD-positive elk in this batch will be notified as soon as their results are available.