With one shot, Rocky Moutnain National Park elk herd is thinned | VailDaily.com

With one shot, Rocky Moutnain National Park elk herd is thinned

Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News
Rocky Moutnain National Park, CO Colorado

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATONAL PARK ” This Colorado park’s lush elk herd declined by one Wednesday, when sharpshooters bagged an adult cow with a single shot.

It’s part of the recently launched culling program, years in the planning, which is designed to reduce the elk herd to a manageable 600 to 800.

Overpopulation has caused a devastating decline in the park’s willow and aspen groves, which in turn affects the overall ecosystem, said spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.

The culling is also used to check for chronic wasting disease, which is a serious problem in Colorado elk.

Park officials took a large group of Front Range media into the backcountry to demonstrate how the culling program works.

The elk kill was the fourth in several weeks. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the herd by 100.

“Culling is an activity we don’t take lightly,” said park biologist Ben Bobowski. “This is done with respect for the animal and the ecosystem.”

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