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Elk health check before they were corralled into a quarantine pen. Photo courtesy of Ho-Chunk Nation.

Elk health check before they were corralled into a quarantine pen. Photo courtesy of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Tribal Wildlife Grant Helps Ho-Chunk Nation With Elk Restoration

Tribes across the United States have a unique knowledge of the land. The Ho-Chunk people have managed natural resources in Wisconsin for generations. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the Ho-Chunk Nation a Tribal Wildlife Grant to develop a comprehensive wildlife management plan and spark their role in elk restoration efforts in Wisconsin. Our Tribal Wildlife Grant was just one aspect of a momentous partnership.

To bring you up to date, here is a little background information. In 1989, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conducted a feasibility assessment for the reintroduction of elk, determining that an elk reintroduction could be successful; and in 1994, Wisconsin successfully established elk into the northern region of the state. In 2012, the Ho-Chunk nation was awarded a competitive Tribal Wildlife Grant that elevated the tribe to be an active member in the elk restoration efforts. The Black River Elk Range (BRER) is approximately 320 sq. miles, almost entirely publicly owned, and located in the Central Forest region of eastern Jackson County. A population goal of 390 elk was established in the original management plan, and limited public hunting for bulls will begin when the population reaches 150 elk. All the partners are optimistic that the elk will develop their own herd and sustain a healthy population in Wisconsin. On March 26, 2015, the Ho-Chunk Nation and invested partners brought 28 elk to Wisconsin. The elk are currently quarantined near the Black River area in Wisconsin.

When Ho-Chunk Nation biologists applied for our Tribal Wildlife Grant, they knew exactly how to implement their project funds, as well as the partnerships that they would need to accomplish their goals. The list of preliminary partners included the Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Ho-Chunk biologist Karen Sexton then joined with even more partners including Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Jackson County Wildlife Fund. The Ho-Chunk Nation successfully leveraged their Tribal Wildlife Grant funds to establish a meaningful hand-in-hand relationship.

“We are grateful to have secured funds through the Tribal Wildlife Grant Program to engage in this elk restoration project,” says Karen Sexton, Ho-Chunk Nation wildlife biologist. “There is so much shared excitement and passion for restoring the elk back into Wisconsin; and being able to collaborate with many different partners on future restoration projects.”

Our mission is simple: working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are happy that our Tribal Wildlife Grant Program can spark innovation for wildlife restoration.

By Alejandro Morales
Regional Office - External Affairs

Group photo of Ho-Chunk Nation Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource and many other volunteers. Photo courtesy of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Group photo of Ho-Chunk Nation Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource and many other volunteers. Photo courtesy of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Elk quarantine pen being built by staff and volunteers. Photo courtesy of Ho-Chunk Nation.

Elk quarantine pen being built by staff and volunteers. Photo courtesy of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

 


 

Last updated: June 4, 2015