Missouri plans its first elk hunt this fall after herd grows

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — For the first time in its modern history, Missouri will offer an elk-hunting season later this year, with five permits drawn in a lottery.

The Missouri Conservation Commission on Wednesday approved issuing four general permits to the public and one permit to a qualified land owner. The permits will be issued through a lottery.

The first elk season will include an archery portion from Oct. 17-25 and a firearms portion Dec. 12-20. The five permits will be for bull elk and will be valid for both portions.

The state's conservation department began restoring elk to Missouri in 2011 and the herd has grown to more than 200, with their range stretching into parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties, the department said in a news release.

The department has met its goal of having a minimum of 200 animals with an annual herd growth rate of at least 10% and a ratio of at least one bull per every four cow elks, said Aaron Hildreth, an elk and deer biologist. The agency hopes to eventually have 500 elk and will use the hunt to manage herd size and control the herd's range.

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