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marine_man

National Park Service allows volunteer hunters to think elk herd

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U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced today that the National Park Service has finally agreed to a common-sense plan to thin the elk herd in Theodore Roosevelt National Park – that will use volunteer hunters to thin the herd under the supervision of the Park Service.

Dorgan has been pushing the Park Service to adopt the plan ever since news broke more than two years ago that the agency was considering a number of alternatives including using professional sharpshooters and helicopters – at significant cost to American taxpayers – to cull the elk. He said today’s announcement by the Park Service is a victory for North Dakota hunters who have shown a willingness to help the national park thin its elk herd, which is growing too large and threatening to damage park habitat.

“This is a good solution that will save taxpayers money, and allow qualified North Dakota hunters to play a part in this elk management plan,” Dorgan said. “This process has followed a long and tortured trail, but I appreciate the willingness of the new Secretary of Interior and the head of the National Park Service to settle upon a common-sense solution to this issue.”

Last month, Dorgan added a provision to the Interior Appropriations bill to solve the issue. His provision would require the Park Service to use qualified hunters to thin the elk herd.

Under the plan announced today, the National Park Service will use volunteer hunters, under supervision, to thin the elk herd for two years, with a goal of harvesting 275 elk per year. If, after two years, the goal has not been met, the use of volunteers will continue but could be supplemented by periodic roundups and euthanasia.

In a letter to Dorgan today, the National Park Service clarified that after the elk carcasses have been harvested by volunteers, ownership of the meat would be turned over to the state of North Dakota or another approved organization. “If the state then wanted to give some of the meat to the volunteers that helped in the removal effort, that would be their decision,” wrote the Park Service. Dorgan said he will work with state officials to ensure the meat is in fact turned over to the volunteer hunters who want to retain it.

Dorgan has pushed the Park Service to save the taxpayers’ money and use some common sense in thinning the elk herd. This solution will help save taxpayers’ money and give qualified hunters an opportunity pitch in to help thin the elk herd.”

“This is a victory for common sense,” said Dorgan.

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This is a big win for sportsman in ND... thankfully the Park Service finally listened to some reason regarding using volunteer hunters vs sharp shooters to thin the elk herd.

marine_man

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I heard about this yesterday and was almost surprised that they are going to let hunters do the thinning. I am excited and plan to apply.

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Interesting,but I would think it would also include cows.It says the state would claim ownership of the carcusses.I'm not sure I would participate in shooting a cow and then have to give away all the meat.So the state will have to decide who gets the meat.

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I remember Dorgan from my time living in Fargo back in the mid 90s,although he is a Dem he does vote with conservatives on some issues,yes this sounds like a good plan.

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Interesting,but I would think it would also include cows.It says the state would claim ownership of the carcusses.I'm not sure I would participate in shooting a cow and then have to give away all the meat.So the state will have to decide who gets the meat.

I never thought about the cow thing, Ken. That is a very good point. It would be nice to have at least some of the meat. I can't see them keeping all the meat but I've been surprised before.

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Dorgan said he will work with state officials to ensure the meat is in fact turned over to the volunteer hunters who want to retain it.

Sounds like they're working on a plan for that already.

marine_man

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Finally something that makes sense...

Even if the hunters cant have the meat I'm sure plenty will still line up to hunt them.

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That does make sense. The heard is so protected there needs to be some management. Be interesting to see how the whole NR thing works out. I kind would think they will leave that up to residents though. Lot like the Pronghorn hunts.

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Aug 26, 2009 - 14:52:52 CDT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Top state officials want the National Park Service to clarify a proposal to reduce the bloated elk herd in southwestern North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park, including whether volunteer shooters would be able to keep the meat.

Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said he and Gov. John Hoeven plan to meet with park officials on Monday to try to resolve the issues, so the state officials can decide whether to formally support the plan.

``This is certainly a step in the right direction; much, much better than what they had earlier,'' Steinwand said Wednesday. ``But we still have some questions.''

The Park Service's proposal calls for teams of shooters including volunteers — a method similar to one pushed by Hoeven, Steinwand and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Dorgan has praised the plan as a victory for common sense in a state with a rich hunting heritage, but Hoeven and Steinwand say they are not yet convinced the plan is acceptable. One of the issues is whether volunteers could keep the meat — something the state advocates.

The Park Service's proposal says the meat would be donated to state agencies, American Indian tribes or charities. Acting National Park Service Director Dan Wenk said in an Aug. 10 letter to Dorgan that ``If the state then wanted to give some of the meat to the volunteers that helped in the removal effort, that would be their decision.''

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