Elk Management

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The refuge's management objective is to maintain the elk populations as they would occur under totally natural conditions. 


Elk management consists of annual censuses to determine yearly production (calves born) and an annual hunt.

The aerial census is conducted once a year, with a supplemental road-based survey conducted in September, to ensure accuracy.  The annual elk hunt is a cooperative effort between the refuge and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The hunt is used as a management tool to maintain the elk population at a level compatible with good habitat conditions. A minimum objective level of 380 elk has been set based on the amount of annual forage production available for all grazing and browsing animals including elk, white-tailed deer, Texas longhorn cattle and American bison. Total population numbers are determined according to drought year habitat conditions.

To maintain the elk, deer and bison populations as they would occur under totally natural conditions, the sex ratio of bulls to cows is maintained at a close to a one-to-one ratio rather than maximizing cow numbers to increase production.