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 "An elk, similar to this collard elk from Washington, was shot and killed in Wind Cave National Park so that park biologists could retrieve a radio collar with two years of data from the animal. The collar failed to disconnect on radio command. Attempts to tranquilize the animal were unsuccessful." (caption and photo courtesy reports that Wind Cave National Park biological science technician Duane Weber had a spot of radio collar-related bother on Monday.  “The collar, which is part of an elk study, was nearing the end of its active life but had failed to disconnect from the elk’s neck on radio command.” Shoot it right? Shoot the elk, remove the collar, get the data. But make sure you shoot it with a tranquilizer dart because . . . hurting elks is not politically correct for a fed, even if he works in South Dakota. (As evidenced by the article’s apologetic tone.) So “Weber spent Thursday on foot in an unsuccessful hunt with a tranquilizer gun, the solution preferred by park officials. He needed to get within 35 yards or so to have a good dart shot, however, and didn’t come within 100 yards.” Shoot it right? Shoot the elk with a gun, remove the collar, get the data . . .

Using a [30-.06] rifle Friday, Weber shot the elk at between 100 yards and 200 yards. Even then, it wasn’t easy, said Greg Schroeder, chief of natural resources for the 33,851-acre park.

“It took him most of the day to get in the right spot and finally figure out which elk it was,” Schroeder said. “There were other elk around, and I think four with radio collars. It was a long process for Duane to figure out which elk he was listening to.”

Weber used slight differences in sound transmitted by the other collars compared the one that was supposed to have disconnected to help identify the elk he wanted. And he confirmed the right animal by noting its head movement, which exposed the antenna and produced a slightly stronger signal.

“He was able to listen and watch enough to be confident he had the right one,” Schroeder said.

It turned out he did. And soon park personnel will download two years worth of GPS information on movement by the elk. They also will take tooth, blood and other samples from the elk for research purposes, allowing the rest of the carcass to decompose naturally.

No elk meat for the guys, then. But there’s always tomorrow. Or not.

The elk was one of 389 pushed out of Wind Cave by helicopters last March in an effort to reduce the size of the herd. It was also one of about 100 elk that managed to get back in to the park from adjoining Custer State Park through a weak spot in the fence.


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  1. I see nothing wrong with any of this.

    I am curious about the “allowing the rest of the carcass to decompose naturally” part, though. I think it’s good when stuff gets donated to hungry people in cases like this, so I wonder what the rationale was in leaving it behind. Clearly it’s not a “prime directive” type reason, since they got close enough to take samples from the body. Maybe it was just too remote an area for them to try to pack it out.

    • Well, leaving the carcass allows for carrion feeders to have some meat as well, and you don’t have to deal with promptly cleaning and storing the meat so that it’s safe for human consumption.

      • The crime here is letting the meat go to waste.

        If a hunter shot that animal and left it to rot, people would be raising h@ll. And rightly so.

        • NOTHING “goes to waste” in a situation such as this; crows, ravens, foxes, skunks, coyotes and perhaps wolves get to eat, insects, too. Anything left is recycles into the soil.

          Oh. You meant from the “only real” perspective: the human one.


        • William Burke has the right idea. Nature is really good at dealing with dead things. The trick is just making sure that there aren’t too many of any one thing dying.

          If every hunter left a dead elk or deer out in the forest, it would be bad. But, the occasional carcass is actually quite good for the local environment.

          Admittedly, if I was one of the researchers, I would probably take a bone or three from the elk.

        • I agree with Burkey on this one. It’s part of the leave no trace mentality. They aren’t taking anything out of the forest meaning its going back into the forest.

        • What’s a “hungry person”, Matt in FL? With nearly 48 million Americans on Food Stamps, I believe the “hungry” American is presently an urban myth.

        • Burke, humans are the most important living things on the planet. Every other creature comes in second to us or it should.

    • Sadly it would probably turn out like this:
      Kill elk
      Clean and store meat
      Donate to shelter
      Homeless eat
      Someone gets sick
      At least one less homeless person!

      • From my time being a restaurant manager I have had there people try to sue me for getting sick after eating my trash so yeah I think the problem might not be the game and fish

      • One less homeless person indeed! It’s a good thing they’re not actually, you know, people or anything. Or a large number of veterans.

        • How many are actual veterans, and how many are just guys who found a field jacket at Goodwill? I bet not all of the ones whose signs advertise starving children actually have starving children, either.

          Homelessness is a real problem that should rightly be blamed in some part on many of the willing homeless. Those who refuse to try to work or even get into a shelter because the shelters don’t let them drink. You can’t force someone to be successful any more than you can force them to care.

          And no, I don’t know the solution. All I know is that twisting the problem doesn’t help find it.

        • Christ calls us to give to those in need. If the person lies, that is between the Lord and them.

  2. I think I can predict (sort of) what certain people in politics would say about this:

    1. Obama – that elk could have been me.
    2. Al Sharpton – that guy who shot that elk is a racist.
    3. Bloomberg – isn’t that gun banned? If not, I call upon Congress to ban that “gun”, rifle, whatever, and they are cowards if they don’t.
    4. Holder – DOJ needs to have that 30-06 rifle turned over to us until we have concluded that the civil rights of the Elk have been violated.
    5. EPA – he better have been using lead free ammo.

    And finally, think of the children.

    End of Sarcasm.

    • Bet you can hear what the majority of people in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Western or Northern Colorado, hell just about anyplace west of the Big Muddy right up to the Sierra Nevadas would say-

      6. Normal Folk – What a waste!

    • 6. H0lder, after conducting the civil rights investigation (which comes up empty handed), sends the rifle to Mexico where it is used in the commission of multiple felonies and ultimately in the shooting death of a border patrolman. But it’s not a big deal, because the patrolman was a white dude.

  3. Allowed to decompose naturally. I would rather see the meat put to good use than lay there and rot. I know that nature will not waste the carcass. Still, the park staff must have known someone in the local community that could have put the meat to good use. I don’t know how often park staff have to dispose of animals that are killed or injured by one reason or another but it’s probably common enough to provide help to locals having a hard time.

    When I started typing my comment no one had commented yet. By the time I had finished Matt had already made the same comment. It’s what I get for 2 fingered typing.

  4. What a waste. Why doesn’t the state game guys hit him with wasting an animal ticket?
    Out of season, wasted meat. Man, wasting a majestic animal like that really pisses me off. Pay the animal some respect!
    Yeah, yeah, I get that the bugs now get to eat too, but they get the old and infirmed.
    This animal would feed a family for quite some time.

  5. so the elk was just walking through the forest, minding its own business, wearing a hoodie . . . .? I think it was unfairly profiled.

    • Given that it was a herd that they relocated that part of moved back they probably really wanted to see the path that was taken and then back track the rest of the animals

    • He gets a paycheck, and for some crazy reason, he and/or the hierarchy above him thought he should go and do something for it.

      You complain when they don’t work for their pay; you complain when they do.

      And all because they don’t see that you should be in charge of things.

  6. Typical government operation. Equipment that doesn’t work right (radio collar didn’t drop off). Lazy worthless employees (couldn’t spend more time tracking the elk to get a shot with a tranquilizer, had to do it now so they could get back and sit around and draw their paychecks). Waste of materials ( shoot the elk and leave the meat to rot). Then fall back on it being a government agency to justify their actions.

  7. They will be able to learn a lot more from this elk…such as where and how it died. As stated above the NPS should have to pay the fine for wasting the meat.

  8. 35 yards? although I have not bow hunted elk, i have friends who have and you need to get closer than that (I’ve taken a deer at that range bow hunting, but the deer here are not that big). Sounds like a South Dakota Fed needs to bone up his skills. Of course, they were looking for a particular elk – not the first one that wandered by – which makes the task much harder. I am thinking this is not the first one that they to shoot to get the GPS.

    shame about the meat. elk is tasty. now there are some well fed bears and coyotes.

  9. Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry — Thomas Jefferson

  10. I have lost half of my orchard and berry plants to elk in the previous 2 weeks. There is NO shortage of elk, or geese, so these BS money wasting programs amount to no more than political pay-offs.
    Any one want to guess the cost of an elk proof fence?

    • ensitue, back in WVA and KY we were allowed to shoot animals doing crop damage. Is it different where you live? Landowners had a lot of leeway to protect their livestock and crops.

    • “Any one want to guess the cost of an elk proof fence?”

      The price of elk proof fences is too damn high!

  11. Grey wolves will take advantage of the carcass, as will any bears in the area. The scraps that are left over will be handled by the rest of the food chain, however bears are definitely looking to fatten up at this time of year, and are always looking for additional meat.

    It does seem odd that they couldn’t just let that transmitter go… why wouldn’t they put out extra transmitters to account for problems like this? If you’re that desperate for data, your data set is probably too small for any meaningful research anyways…

  12. Sounds like the guy did a great job and did more than his du diligence in ascertaining that he was indeed shooting the right one. That must have been tedious but fun.

  13. I’ll tell you where they need to get busy with that 30-06 and that’s Valley Forge State Park. It is absolutely infested with deer.

  14. A wildlife biologist is not a recreational or subsistence hunter. They’re doing research to better understand and improve the health of the herd. Leaving the meat for scavengers makes total sense in this situation. Also, how far up in there were they? Packing the animal out may not have been practical, especially in hot weather. A helicopter would be expensive (on your dime) and highly disruptive.

    The real issue with overpopulation of deer and Elk in National Parks is that there is no hunting, but there also are not enough natural predators to keep the herds in balance. They should reintroduce wolves, cats, etc., but that’s politically difficult since these predators will expand beyond the parks and ranchers will freak out. Barring that, they should allow some hunting, maybe hold a lottery so anyone can have a chance, then auction off National Park Dream Hunts to rich folks, with pack horses and the works. Which is about as politically feasible as reintroducing wolves.

    • The Canadian experience of limiting deer hunting and the spread of national parks, have in fact led to the increase in the numbers of cougars and wolves. How do they know that? By the increase in the number of predator attacks on people, mainly children and women, but some men as well. I read about the Vancouver University cougar, but sadly no Liberal Arts students were predated. More deer means more wild animals looking to eat us as well. (NB: We don’t have this situation in New Zealand because although the lousy economy means less hunting, nobody thought to introduce any predator species! Wasted opportunity to weed out some tree huggers.)

      • While I don’t wish physical harm on those with whom I disagree politically, I would suggest that predation by mammal is a risk we have to face in the wilderness. Fatal predator attacks on humans are extremely rare, even in places like Alaska. Further, large herbivores can also be quite dangerous. Scared of sharks? Stay out of the ocean.

        The real political issue is predation of livestock. I think there are sensible compromises to deal with this – if the wolf is on your property attacking your stock, you can shoot it. If you’re grazing on BLM land, maybe not.

        Also, you can carry a gun in U.S. National Parks, so tool up and enjoy yourself. But don’t shoot the bear because you didn’t properly stow your food.

  15. Actually we dont have any bears left in South Dakota, We shot them all. Suprised this made the local paper here. Most of the time its just whining about the Lion hunting season.

  16. I am truly hoping the radically liberal Sierra Club members and the Kalifornia “Dept of No fish and very little game” decide to kill the remaining Condors to “change their batteries” in their tracking hardware.
    Once they are all gone, the basis for denying hunters the use of lead bullets in the Slave State would disappear.


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