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Health, Science, Environment

Elk officially back in Missouri

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(Missouri Department of Conservation/Jim Low)
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Conservation Commissioner Chip McGeehan helps unload Missouri’s first elk from the truck that brought them from Kentucky to their new home at Peck Ranch Conservation Area.

For the first time since the Civil War, elk are back on Missouri soil.

The 34 elk spent three months in quarantine in Kentucky before arriving today in southeast Missouri. They'll be housed temporarily at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, which is part of the elk restoration zone.

The elk's arrival was delayed from April 30 so conservation officials could complete all the necessary health tests.

Critics of the restoration plan have raised concerns about crop damage and the possibility that elk will spread disease to livestock. And an anthropologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia says evidence shows that elk originally lived in northwest Missouri - and that putting them in a new location could have negative consequences.

The state Department of Conservation says elk also lived in southern Missouri. And legislation pending in the state Senate would make the department responsible for any crop damage elk might cause.

Click here to learn more about the elk restoration process.

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