History of the Elk Herd

Elk, originally indigenous to the Wichita Mountains area of Oklahoma, were exterminated by the late 1800's.

It has been stated that the subspecies Merriam's elk originally inhabited the area.  Other sources argue that it was actually the Manatoban elk subspecies. Whichever subspecies it actually was is of little consequence since by 1901, when the land which became the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was set aside, no native elk remained and these two subspecies no longer existed.

In 1908, one bull elk of unknown origin was donated to the Preserve by the City of Wichita, Kansas.  Then, in 1911, five Rocky Mountain elk, one bull and four cows, were transplanted from the National Elk Refuge herd in Jackson, Wyoming. In 1912, fifteen additional Rocky Mountain elk, three bulls and twelve cows, were received from the National Elk Refuge herd. Due to the success of these introductions, no further animals were brought into the herd and the elk now inhabiting the refuge and surrounding lands are descendants of these original animals.