Area elk outlook is promising

This year should be a good one for Texas’ little-known elk populations, and next May promises to be a good one for Fort Worth-area elk enthusiasts and others who enjoy hunting and fishing.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has announced it will allocate $57,191 for a research project to identify elk habitat preferences, movement and demographics in the Glass Mountains of West Texas.

The foundation also announced it will hold its Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo at the Fort Worth Convention Center on May 5-8, 2009.

The Glass Mountains grants headline a total of $154,569 worth of conservation and education grants for Texas this year. The grants are based on revenues generated at the foundation’s fundraising banquets held annually in Texas.

The foundation also has approved grants for several other projects, including a special Texas Youth Hunter Program at the Torstenson Wildlife Center in New Mexico and a strategic land protection fund.

Sul Ross State University in Alpine and local landowners have partnered with the foundation in the research projects.

The Glass Mountain elk herd is estimated at 150 animals. Smaller herds of fewer than 40 elk each occur in the Guadalupe Mountains and three other nearby ranges.

Researchers in the Trans-Pecos area have fitted 20 captured elk with radio tracking collars and preliminary data show the elk travel great distances — almost 40 square miles among the cows and close to 100 square miles among the bulls.

Elk are classified as a non-native species in Texas and can be hunted any time of the year. However, Texas elk are the subject of “growing conservation spirit between private landowners,” according to Steve Wagner, a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation spokesman.

Wagner said the organization has completed 37 conservation and education projects in Texas valued at more than $580,000 since 1984.

More information on the Elk Foundation is available at www.elkfoundation.org or by calling 800-225-5355.