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Arkansas hunters killed a record 55 elk during the 2016-17 hunting season, according to Wes Wright, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s elk program coordinator.

The tally represented a 15 percent increase in harvest from the 2015 season and was the result of the statewide elk season established in 2016 to prevent further expansion of the herd.

“We had 11 elk taken on land outside the Core Elk Management Zone,” Wright said at the monthly commission meeting held Feb. 16 in Little Rock. “Nine were in Pope County, one was in Van Buren County and one was down in Little River County.”

The elk harvested in Little River likely was an escaped animal from a captive facility, but Wright says DNA samples were taken to verify if it was linked to the Arkansas herd.

Any deer hunter who happens to see an elk while hunting outside of the Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties) may legally kill that elk with weapons legal for the season they are in, according to Wright.

“We had a couple of these elk taken with archery, crossbow and muzzle-loader, but most came from hunters using modern guns,” he said.

Biologists took Chronic Wasting Disease samples from all elk killed, and one positive case came back from a twoand-a-half-year-old bull taken in Searcy County.

“This shows a prevalence of less than 2 percent in our elk herd harvest,” Wright said. “So far, only six elk have tested positive for CWD since we first discovered the disease in Arkansas.”

Print Headline: Arkansas elk harvest a record

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