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Contact information
For information on the elk reintroduction, contact:
Kevin Wallenfang
Big game ecologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management

Reintroducing elk to Wisconsin

Elk herd

Wisconsin has a small and slowly growing herd of wild elk (approx. 180 elk) living in the Clam Lake area of Ashland County. They were reintroduced as part of a University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point study in 1995 with a starting population of 25 elk from one wild source herd in Michigan. At that time plans were also made, but never carried out, to reintroduce elk to the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls of west central Wisconsin (Jackson County). The DNR recently wrote a new elk management plan that contains several changes to Wisconsin's current plan which includes the following.

  • Increase the size of the current Clam Lake elk range to include more and better habitat.
  • Allow the importation of wild elk to add to the existing Clam Lake herd with a long-term population goal of 1,400 elk.
  • Allow importation of at least 75 wild elk to establish a new elk herd in the Black River State Forest with a long-term population goal of 390 elk.
  • Allow for the assisted dispersal of elk to suitable habitat within the existing elk range.
  • Recognize the importance of quality habitat and the factors that correspond with reducing predator impacts.
  • Recognize that elk management is built upon collaborative relationships with the Ojibwe Tribes, Ho-Chunk Nation, public and private entities and partner involvement has strengthened elk management.
  • Recognize that Chronic Wasting Disease will be continued to be monitored and all findings will be taken into consideration before implementation of the recommendations.

The goal is to restore elk at these two locations so they become self-sustaining populations that can adapt to the Wisconsin landscape. The benefits of this effort include greater diversity in our state's wildlife community, increased genetic diversity of Wisconsin elk, additional hunting opportunities in the future and increased tourism from elk viewing opportunities.

Last revised: Wednesday October 30 2013