MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 12 • OMASH Elk recovery in Wisconsin continues after 22 years Omashkooz (elk) were once native to Wisconsin. However, as European settlers continued their westward expansion exploiting natural resources, elk were eventually extirpated from Wisconsin by the late 1800s. A reintroduction effort was attempted in northern Wisconsin in the 1930s, but the elk did not survive. In 1995, 25 elk were trapped in Lower Michigan and then released in the Clam Lake area of Ashland Country as part of an elk reintroduction feasibility study. The Clam Lake herd has continued to grow steadily over the years, with the exception of a couple of especially cold, snowy winters. With the success of the Clam Lake elk restoration in northern Wisconsin, a second elk restoration site was proposed in the Jackson County area near Black River Falls,Wisconsin.The state ofWiscon- sin came to an agreement with the state of Kentucky to undertake a multi-year project, relocating up to 150 elk from Kentucky to Wisconsin over a 3–5 year period. In 2015 and 2016, 73 elk that were trapped in Kentucky were released in the Black River area. Many of the elk are fitted with GPS tracking collars. Some of these collars can provide nearly real-time locations of the elk as they settle-in to their new range. Biologists are currently monitoring the movements of the Black River elk herd to determine whether they will stay within the elk management range or venture into new areas. There is a concern that some adventurous elk could become a problem for private landowners and those in the agriculture business. Time will tell whether this new elk herd will be a part of Wisconsin’s wildlife success stories. Earlierthisyear,tribalmembersheldapipeanddrumceremony upon the arrival of 28 elk that were trapped in Kentucky and trans- ported north to the Clam Lake herd. The elk were then held in a 7-acre pen near Winter for several months while biologists performed health tests and allowed the pregnant cow elk to give birth. After passing rigorous health examinations, the elk were eventually released into the existing population in mid-July of 2017. The addition of the Kentucky elk to the Clam Lake herd should result in a more productiveandmoregeneticallydiversepopulation.Withacoupleofyearsremaining in the agreement with Kentucky,Wisconsin is planning to continue to translocate elk to the two elk restoration areas within Wisconsin. The overall goal is to establish a healthy, self-sustaining herd that will allow for an annual hunt. Many partners have been involved in the elk restoration efforts over the years, including GLIFWC. GLIFWC staff have participated in conducting elk restoration feasibility studies, reviewing various research proposals, health testing of trans- located elk, purchasing feed for elk while they are held in quarantine pens, and contributing to future management and planning as a member of the elk advisory committee. Wisconsin’s tribes have contributed over $1.7 million in gaming funds to Wisconsin’s elk reintroduction program since the State of Wisconsin’s 2001–2002 fiscal year. Elk (omashkooz in Ojibwe) r Working together to bring ba By Travis Bartnick, GLIFWC Wildlife Biologist GLIFWC wildlife staff work cooperatively with theWisconsin Department of Natural Resources to conduct health assessments and to monitor elk populations in the Clam Lake area of northcentral Wisconsin. (C. Rasmussen photo) The elk comeback continues in the CededTerritory.Thelong-reestablished elk herd in Michigan has provided the foundation for a Wisconsin population. In eastern Minnesota, the Fond du Lac Band and its partners are in the midst of an elk restoration feasibility study. For the tribes, promoting native species is a high priority and the elk, or omashkooz inOjibwemowin,isprominentexample of tribal natural resource management at work. Michigan Department of Natural Resources photo Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation photo