Elk Viewing on Redbird Ranger District

Elk in the morning mistThe Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was created in 1984 by four Montana elk hunters. This nonprofit organization cooperates with state and local agencies to insure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.

In 1996 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged over $1.4 million to the state of Kentucky’s elk restoration project. On December 18, 1997, seven elk that had been captured in Western Kansas were released at the Cyprus Amax Wildlife Management Area in Eastern Kentucky. This was the first of a series of releases that continued thru the winter of 2002.

The elk have thrived in Kentucky. They are achieving a 90% breeding success rate, and a 92% calf survival rate. The absence of predators, relatively mild Kentucky winters and abundant food sources have not only contributed to the remarkable population growth, but also account for the fact that the Kentucky elk are on average 15% larger than elk found in western states. By July 2000, Kentucky had the largest free ranging, wild elk herd east of Montana. Learn more...

The Kentucky Elk Restoration project conducted by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife with the support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is regarded as one of the most successful wildlife reintroduction efforts ever conducted.
The original Kentucky elk population target of 7,400 will be achieved in 2008, 11 years ahead of schedule. Because of the virtual absence of elk predators in Kentucky, it is contemplated that, approximately 1,500 elk hunting permits a year will have to be issued by 2008 just to maintain the herd at the 7,400 target level.

Now that the elk are well established and flourishing in Kentucky, the Foundation has launched a new initiative, The Appalachian Wildlife Initiative, which will focus on permanent habitat conservation. Habitat that will benefit not only elk, but varied wildlife including whitetail deer, black bear, wild turkey, quail, grouse, and other small game species.