Volunteers Prep for Missouri’s Latest Recruits
By Dave Pace, Missouri State Chair
RMEF volunteers were at it again last spring, when they gathered for the third consecutive year at Peck Ranch in the heart of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains to help the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) prepare the temporary holding facilities for 2013’s incoming elk.
The MDC, with RMEF’s help, first reintroduced elk from Kentucky into Missouri in 2011. A second release occurred in 2012. The newcomers are held in a holding pen for a month before being equipped with GPS radio collars (paid for by RMEF) and released into the wild within the state’s “elk zone.” This 346-square-mile area encompasses some of Missouri’s most wild and beautiful country. The 25,000-acre state-owned and publicly accessible Peck Ranch is the hub of the zone and is a model of habitat for elk and other wildlife.
Volunteers pitched in to clean up the holding area and replaced the burlap on the holding pen. The pen is constructed of 8-foot-high fencing covered with burlap. The burlap appears as a solid wall to the elk, preventing them from charging the fencing and getting injured. High winds and weather had damaged the burlap left from the previous year, so volunteers tore down the old burlap and replaced it.
Dale and Dora Lee Melton prepared a delicious meal for the work crew, consisting of elk stroganoff with all the trimmings, including desserts. Some had never tasted elk meat before, and were very impressed.
Although it was a good morning to hear a turkey gobble, the birds kept quiet. But other Peck Ranch residents were on hand, including three copperhead snakes that were spotted in the pen area. They blended in perfectly with fallen oak leaves, keeping volunteers on their toes.
The day ended on a high. As volunteers left, some decided to drive the elk viewing tour loop that MDC established on the ranch. They were not disappointed; 21 cows and calves were spotted feeding on clover in an opening.
Just another great day in Missouri’s elk country!