Wed Sep 24 00:00:00 MDT 2003
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wardens killed 13 of the 22 elk that remained at large after escaping last week from an alternative livestock facility near Winifred.
On Sept. 17, 24 elk escaped from the Judith River Ranch through an exterior fence damaged by a fallen tree. Two elk retuned to the facility on Sept. 18.
The escaped elk were killed Tuesday approximately a mile from the alternative livestock facility. Wardens also killed one wild bull elk running with elk that escaped from the facility. Nine escaped bull elk are still at large. FWP wardens are attempting to locate the animals from the ground and the air.
"These events are unfortunate," said Tim Feldner, FWP's commercial wildlife permitting manager. "The alternative livestock owners are fully cooperating with FWP and with our objective to remove the escaped animals from the wild before they have an opportunity to intermingle with the area's resident elk."
After five days, all of the escaped alternative livestock animals that were not recaptured became the property of the state and may be legally harvested by licensed hunters. Montana's archery season opened Sept. 6 and Montana's general elk season will open Oct. 26.
"We're asking hunters to notify FWP if they take one of these elk. We'll remove the identification tags and test the animal for chronic wasting disease," Feldner said.
Numbered ear tags on the 13 elk killed by FWP will be cross-checked with Montana Department of Livestock and FWP records.
Tissue samples taken from each escaped elk and the wild bull elk will be tested for chronic wasting disease and other diseases. Feldner said DOL records suggest the escaped elk are healthy. He said subsequent testing is a requirement for all alternative livestock animals over 16 months of age that die or are killed. The meat, if disease-free, will be donated to food banks. Test results are expected in four to six weeks. Anyone with information on the escaped elk can call Feldner in Helena at 406-444-4039.