Wisconsin’s Elk: All You Need to Know
By Kurt Flack, Regional Director, Southern Wisconsin/Illinois
In 1998, RMEF and its volunteers joined forces with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help bring elk back to the Badger State. Today, elk are a fixture in the Clam Lake area, and our volunteers continue to raise funds and donate their time and effort to not only ensure elk always have a home here, but also to provide opportunities for the state’s residents and visitors alike to view and learn about this majestic animal.
A great example of this occurred last September when RMEF volunteers installed a new interactive electronic kiosk designed to provide visitors with information about the elk herd. The kiosk was retrofitted into an existing sign located at the junction of highways 77 and GG in Clam Lake. It provides extensive information about elk and their habitat, the history of elk in Wisconsin and their restoration after a century of absence. In addition, the kiosk features wildlife spotting guides, maps and directions to nearby elk viewing areas.
Although an RMEF state grant funded a portion of the kiosk, it simply wouldn’t have happened without the help of long-time RMEF volunteer and Baraboo Chapter member Fred Lochner. Not only did his company, Imperial Multimedia—a Wisconsin-based business that specializes in interpreting nature and the outdoors—design the kiosk, it also covered the remaining production and installation costs the state grant didn’t fund.
“The kiosk is designed to create a destination for people who may be intimidated by the wildness of Wisconsin’s vast Chequamegon and Nicolet National Forest to experience elk,” Lochner says. “Our focus is to educate visitors and guide them to a safe and meaningful experience, and perhaps even spawn some wildlife advocates along the way.”
While Imperial Multimedia handled the majority of the project, DNR elk biologists Laine Stowell (RMEF donor and volunteer) and Matt McKay (Hayward Chapter committee member) shared their extensive knowledge of Wisconsin’s elk and their range in developing content for the kiosk. RMEF volunteer Bud Rubeck and other Clam Lake Chapter committee members donated additional time and materials.
Thanks to their help, RMEF is able to offer a very effective tool to visitors who may have traveled quite a distance for the chance to see elk. The more opportunities we have to educate and inform people about elk and the Elk Foundation's mission, the more successful we can be.