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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It has been 7 years since I tried to get the Indiana DNR to start an elk feasilbility study and social economic study in 2011. I finally got an e-mail back from Wildlife section leadership. It doesn't look to promising. The leadership is dead set on not doing one because their afraid of auto insurance companies and farmers and afraid of chronic wasting disease. Here is the copied email:


Dear Mr. Collins,



We forwarded your email to Wildlife Section Leadership and here is their response:



Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding a feasibility study for the reintroduction of elk to Indiana. As you might recall, the DFW considered this topic, at your request, in 2009-11 and included participation by wildlife faculty at Purdue University. At that time, a feasibility study was not recommended, regardless of funding source, because of concern that suitable contiguous wildlands were lacking and the potential for negative socioeconomic impacts to Indiana's agricultural interests. These same concerns were identified in an earlier feasibility study to reintroduce elk in southern Illinois conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey. Although the forested landscape of southcentral Indiana may be similar to that in Illinois, ownership is fragmented and interspersed with farms and homes. Further, chronic wasting disease has now been confirmed in three neighboring states. This eminent threat wasn't a concern 8-10 years ago, and the DFW believes translocating a CWD-susceptible cervid, such as elk, to Indiana is not in the best interest of the state's white-tailed deer herd. Thank you again for your continued support and interest in Indiana's fish and wildlife resources



I tried emailing the Indiana DNR every year at least twice a year the last 7 years. I guess I will have to wait til the current wildlife leadership retires to get the elk restoration study completely. It had taken many long hard hours of searching and researching other states. My options are down to creating a petition and getting has many signatures has possible to take to an Indiana Natural Resources Commission meeting or having my state representative and state senator co-sponsor an elk feasibility bill in the Indiana General Assembly and have the Governor sign the bill.
 

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I just don't see it as being possible. Knowing what I know about Elk, I did a study on habitat and food sources and range. Indiana just simply is not fit for an animal of that size. There aren't enough forrests or woods for them to roam. Indiana, as I have lived in many states, is by far the number 1 state for woods missing. You pull up a map blow it up and throw a dart at it your likely to hit a field. There just isn't enough hardwoods in the state anywhere. All habitat has been or slowly is being destroyed.
 

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There isn't enough money to be made or behind it to make it happen. Actually there is too much money to be lost to ensure it won't happen. We also have a DNR that claims to be going broke as well. The powerful lobby groups for farmers and Insurance won't let it happen from a political perspective and the DNR is simply an extension of that system. Head of the DNR is appointed by the Governor..... so don't tell me it isn't political in nature. You find a way to line the pockets of enough politicians with more money than the farm and insurance lobbies do and you will have more Elk than you can shake a stick at! Money, money, money.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I tried the economic approach by stating facts from other states that introduced elk like Missouri and Kentucky back in 2011 proposal. Millions of dollars are made by people from gas stations, convience stores, hotels, motels, inns, bait shops, outdoor stores, eco-tourism from elk tours, more hunting and fishing license money for people who come to and elk area. Brown County needs the money. It was the best spot available for Pleasant run purchase unit of hoosier national forest plus yellowwood state forest, monroe reservior, morgan-monroe state forest and several sycamore land trust and Indiana Chapter of the Nature conservancy land tracts. Borwn County Hills Area has 50% public owned or 50% open to the public in a 350,000 acre forested block you can see from space. The state forest and national forest staff could of clear cut patches in each public owned forest to plant native grass, native forbs and wildflowers. It would of benefited elk, white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, american woodcock, etc. I am still trying to weigh my options. I did write the Indiana DNR back with a reply if they aren't willing to try the elk feasibility study I would try to get Indiana General Assembly bill to pass in future budget bills.

I am not sure how to start a official petition for elk restoration. I believe the Indiana Natural Resources Commission passed a new wildlife rule allowing groups, organizations and individuals to bring petitions to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission on fish and wildlife issues. That may be the next approach.
 

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The issue would be control. Say you have a recommended 5-800 head of elk over that 2-300k acres of land. There would not be a way to control where they go or what they do. Not only that diseases and parasites would then come into play becuase we actually don't know how a heard from a different area would react to indiana weather. Theres no way to put a 6.5 foot fence around the HNF. I'd love to be able to hunt elk in my home state but its just not feasable. Not only that you have inbreeding that would take place which would cause problems. The last of the elk in Indiana were poached in the 60's. So many times have DNR received notices about attmepting to reintroduce the population, but they always say insurance or the current plan for deer heard in Indiana hasn't worked yet. I think the habitat is just wrong for Indiana. The fields aren't enough and the hardwoods are just too different to have a booming healthy population. Elk isn't even on the DNR's radar at the moment I'm sure.
 

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Elk, I see it this way. Why would you want a re-intro when our DNR clearly can't manage what they have currently? The brass of our DNR are essentially political puppets. The people pulling those strings are never going to allow a large animal like that run all over to destroy crops and create fatal car accidents. IN has like 95% private land. Land the DNR can't manage for habitat! You can try going the political route, but even IF you succeed.....what will that look like? A few scruffy looking elk wandering about, with little to know chance to hunt them while the DNR has to spread its budget even over more places.....

I would much rather see the DNR show they can manage the deer herd without being puppets of the political machine and help restore/recovery efforts of species we already have like grouse and upland game birds (which we are loosing to habitat loss - similar habitat that the elk would need as well). Without the proper funding and the like all your going to do is create an even greater strain on the DNR budget....all so we can say there are a few elk out there? If we can't support upland game birds.....what makes you think the DNR will be able to support a meadow type critter like an elk?

Build and manage the prairies, show they can manage the game (large and small) and then, maybe then, bring in a few elk and see what happens. By pushing for the elk now..... your building a house with a foundation and a floor, but are moving right to the roof, without having walls to support it......all because you like to lay shingles! I have nothing against elk in IN.....I just think it needs to be done the right way. Right now, I fear we not only lack the resources, but I fear it would simply be mis-managed like many of the game animals we already have. If I recall properly we have 2 people on the DNR staff entirely dedicated to deer.....two! Dedicated to the most financially important game animal in our state.....two! How do you think the DNR is going to support elk?
 

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J Bird makes the perfect point. I have lived in many states. The destruction of land in Indiana is just absolutely crazy. Farmers have completely tore this state apart. Take Mississippi where I'm from. The deer heard is absoutely killing Indiana's deer heard just simply due to habitat still being intact. Pull up an Indiana map and just point to an area I bet almost anything you hit a field. Good points J Bird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was just keeping public informed of what I was doing with elk. Writing e-mails to Indiana DNR by myself wasn't going to get it done. I can tell my future kids I did everything in my power to get an extirpated species like elk back into Indiana. I was pissed at the Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Cameron Clark an governor appointee and a lawyer for pulling the bobcat hunting and trapping season at the Indiana Natural Resources Commission meeting. They let emotion, fear and politics from humane society and public dictate their decision. I had lobby for that for 4 years. I lobbied for a sandhill crane season too. That never got to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. Ruffed grouse will be extirpated in the next 5-10 years. DNR listened to tree huggers and waited to late to start cutting large areas of the state forest. I don't think the ruffed grouse will be back. Personally I think the current director of division of Fish and wildlife needs to go. I believe his name is Mark Reiter. He is the Indiana DNR staff member who answers my elk questions since 2011. But I think the Indiana DNR is corrupt and filled with politicians. I am not disagreeing with any one. I think elk will one day be restored to Indiana. Maybe not this year or next year or even 5 or 10 years from now. I think it could happen in the next 30-50 years.
 

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I was just keeping public informed of what I was doing with elk. Writing e-mails to Indiana DNR by myself wasn't going to get it done. I can tell my future kids I did everything in my power to get an extirpated species like elk back into Indiana. I was pissed at the Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Cameron Clark an governor appointee and a lawyer for pulling the bobcat hunting and trapping season at the Indiana Natural Resources Commission meeting. They let emotion, fear and politics from humane society and public dictate their decision. I had lobby for that for 4 years. I lobbied for a sandhill crane season too. That never got to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. Ruffed grouse will be extirpated in the next 5-10 years. DNR listened to tree huggers and waited to late to start cutting large areas of the state forest. I don't think the ruffed grouse will be back. Personally I think the current director of division of Fish and wildlife needs to go. I believe his name is Mark Reiter. He is the Indiana DNR staff member who answers my elk questions since 2011. But I think the Indiana DNR is corrupt and filled with politicians. I am not disagreeing with any one. I think elk will one day be restored to Indiana. Maybe not this year or next year or even 5 or 10 years from now. I think it could happen in the next 30-50 years.
Elk - I wrote a long post and deleted it...because I could sum it up in one just a few words....MONEY, GREED, POWER & POLITICS. The same things that are destroying our deer herd are the same things that will prevent your elk re-intro. It's the same reason the Grouse are all but gone with the Pheasant and Quail not far behind. They even changed the "policy" name for it. Before when it was based on the cornerstones of habitat and carrying capacity....they now call it "social carrying capacity".....which when you cut thru all the crap means that those in control of the political system will decide what will be done. In our system those are Farm and Insurance special interest groups!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
J-bird, I agree with you on most of your points. I just trying to figure out how states with lots of agriculture fields with a large farm and auto insurance lobbying group like Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia reintroduced elk. I think it is like a job. Your need a large unified group of devoted elk lovers who won't take no has anaswer to get it done. The co-founder of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation told me in person to keep up the good fight and never accept no has an answer. Write, e-mail and lobby your state fish and game agencies. He applauded me for my courage and because I am in my late 30's a young elk lover who lobbies or elk restoration on his free time outside of work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One of the main reasons I started elk restoration besides bringing them back was to give Indiana residents another huntable species since the ruffed grouse isn't coming back soon. They have turned down my greater prairie chicken restoration idea. I was trying to get greater prairie chicken into the 8,000 acre plus native prairie nature preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. Kankakee Sands Nature Preserve has a tall grass prairie with 100% genetically pure american bison that are disease free. The Indiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy did not have to Indiana General Assembly or Indiana approval first. They had to have permits but the Indiana DNR staff told me they consider them livestock.
 

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If I recall the bison are actually fenced and the land was purchased by the conservancy group and is not an actual DNR property.....it also took them 20 years to get the habitat up to par. So find somebody willing to buy you 7 or 8 thousand acres, get it to the habitat you need, fence it off and go for it! You can do a lot of things on private land.....with "livestock".
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Not into semi-domesticated elk or american bison ranching! The whole idea of elk restoration is wild free roaming elk in south central Indiana with a limited elk hunt through an elk lottery to control the population. Missouri has about 200 elk on 30,000 acres and they are aving no problem with the elk wandering off the original elk restoration zone of 300,000 acres of mixed public/private land in Ozark Mountains mostly Mark Twain National Forest. Indiana Division of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service could create openings in Yellowwood State Forest, Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Hoosier National Forest. It would help habitat for other wildlife like deer, turkey, woodcock, rabbits, ruffed grouse, bats, etc.
 
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