Culling operation kills 33 elk in Rocky Mountain Park |

Culling operation kills 33 elk in Rocky Mountain Park

AP PhotoVolunteer cullers, along with members of the National Park Service, track a group of elk, Feb. 4 in Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, Colorado ” Rocky Mountain National Park officials say 33 elk were killed in the first round of a culling operation to reduce the park’s oversized herd.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said this week that 20 of the elk were killed for research on chronic wasting disease and fertility research. Those animals were darted and then killed by researchers.

The other 13 were killed by a culling team.

The herd size will be monitored to determine how many, of any, elk will be killed next winter.

Park officials say overgrazing by the elk in some areas has nearly wiped out aspens and willows, prime habitat for beavers and birds.

There are about 600 to 800 elk in the park and 1,000 to 1,300 elk around the neighboring town of Estes Park.

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