Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Disease Forces Wind Cave National Park To Reduce Elk Herd

Wind Cave National Park

A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows nearly ten percent of Wind Cave National Park’s elk population suffers from Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD.

According to the report the disease causes extreme weight loss and is incurable.

In an effort to stop the spread of CWD park officials are looking for volunteers to help reduce the elk population.

Volunteers who want to help Wind Cave control the elk herd must meet a strict set of requirements.

That includes being able to carry 70 pounds of gear, hike up to ten miles and shoot an eight inch target from 200 yards.

Alexandra Picavet is with Wind Cave National Park.  She says meat gathered from the process that doesn’t carry CWD goes to the charity organization Feeding South Dakota or volunteers themselves.

“All of the meat that is distributed that way will be labeled so that people will know that It came from an area that has Chronic Wasting Disease but has been tested as non-detect for the disease,” says Picavet.

Picavet says volunteers are chosen using a lottery system similar to those used for hunting permits. An online application is available until September 28.  The elk control project goes through February of 2017. 

Picavet adds that it could take several years for scientists to know if efforts to reduce CWD work.