The gates to the temporary holding pen have finally been opened for the second group of elk being introduced into the wild in Missouri.
As the man in the video says: "Welcome to freedom."
Jim Low of the Missouri Department of Conservation tells Daily RFT that current herd is now about 80 strong, but there's no way to tell for sure because they don't know how many calves have been born and survived since last year's initial release.
Low says that as soon as state biologists determine that the wild elk population around the restoration zone in southeastern Missouri is large enough to sustain itself, there will be a hunting season.
This was a controversial plan in the beginning.
The Farm Bureau has warned
that reintroducing elk to Missouri would wreak havoc on farms and
roads. The state auditor has faulted conservation officials for spending too much without enough transparency.
But the MDC, citing widespread
support from citizens, is going ahead with the project. Some new elk transplants have recently arrived from Kentucky.
The MDC yesterday released a handful of new videos on the reintroduction process. For example, below is a video showing the elk behave rather like shoppers outside of Wal-Mart on the morning of Black Friday: