HORSESHOE LAKE -- By now, the word has traveled throughout the county and surrounding areas about an elk that was loose and eventually harvested in Mississippi County earlier this month. The animal was seen before Christmas at the Scott/Mississippi County line, then shortly afterwards, around Horseshoe Lake and P. Field Sewer where it was harvested.
This harvesting of the elk posed several questions throughout the county as to whether or not an individual could or could not harvest this elk. Although in this case everything seems to be on the level, that's not always the case with elk.
Elk in this state is considered livestock if the elk is domestically held without the opportunity of co-mingling with deer. If someone happens to shoot an elk that is livestock, then the shooter can be liable for the loss to the owner. The owner may also be liable for damages the elk may cause if it escapes from its holdings. In this case, the potential harvester was recommended to speak with the owner, which gave him permission to harvest the elk. Now, before that happened the harvester needs to make sure that the elk given permission to harvest is in fact the elk that has escaped. Illinois was also monitoring an elk at the same time as this ordeal and it was just luckily that this was not the Illinois elk or there may have been a citation written.
As stated earlier, domestic elk that have not co-mingled with deer are considered livestock. In this instance, the landowner gave permission to harvest the elk to avoid any type of legal problems that could occur if the elk caused any type of accident, etc.
Elk held under breeder permits and that in fact co-mingles with deer is another story, if of the animal was not livestock and was wild from another state, then it falls under the wildlife code (permissive). These elk are monitored and cannot be harvested as in the case above.
Many wonder where the answers are to these regulations. They can be found in our Missouri Wildlife Code Booklet, but one would have to realize that this is a permissive code, which means if it's not in the booklet, you cannot do it.
If you are unsure about the regulations and what can and cannot be done, it's best to talk with your local conservation agent or the Cape Regional Office. This may save you from the many rumors that often lead people astray, thus having to pay a penalty.
If harvesting is allowed as mentioned above, individuals still have to abide by hunting methods described in the Missouri Wildlife Code Booklet. No one shall hunt an animal from or with the aid of a motorized vehicle. They are not allowed to shoot from the vehicle or from or across a public roadway.
It is not uncommon to find a wild elk in this area. Eastern Kentucky has released elk into the wild and one could possibly travel the distance to this area. A good example of this currently happening in Missouri is with the black bear. Missouri currently does not have a black bear season and does not allow the harvest of black bears. If you witness an animal that is not common to this area, it's best to call the local conservation agent or a local conservation office.
Please contact Leother Branch, conservation agent, at 573-471-5737 or the Cape Regional Office at 573-290-5730 if you have any questions concerning wildlife. You may also contact the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-
392-1111 if you witness a violation or have information of a violation. All names are kept confidential and rewards are possible.