Within two years, more elk could be brought to the Clam Lake area, and a small elk herd would be started near Black River Falls. Those are a couple of possibilities under a management plan approved by the DNR Board.
There are currently about 150 elk near Clam Lake. The revised state plan would add about 200 elk to that part of northwest Wisconsin, as well as expand the herd's range about 500 square miles. As many as 75 elk would be brought to Jackson County in the west central region. DNR big game specialist Kevin Wallenfang says the expansion makes biological sense, "Biologically, it comes down to restoring an animal that's native to the state."
Wallenfang also says tourists would travel to the two areas to hear and see the elk. He says state lawmakers still have to okay bringing in elk from another state where the herd is healthy and free of problems like chronic wasting disease. But Wallenfang says he thinks Gov. Walker will propose the elk expansion in his upcoming state budget and that nearly $500,000 in private donations will fund any herd growth. But farmer and hunter Tony Grabski of Blue Mounds says he worries more elk would compete with deer for food, "Some research shows bigger elk can compete for browse."
The DNR says it thinks deer and elk would co-exist just fine. but the DNR Board did spell out that it wants staff to consider ways to reduce predators if too many wolves, bear or other animals have more elk for breakfast.