Gov. Jay Nixon issued the following statement after the Missouri Conservation Commission voted today at its meeting in Kirksville to reintroduce elk in parts of three southern Missouri counties:
"The targeted restoration of elk in southern Missouri is an important turning point in our state's tradition of successful wildlife management. Today's vote by the Conservation Commission is a key step in ensuring the safe and responsible restoration of elk, and the department will now proceed with plans to reintroduce a small herd in suitable habitat in Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. This vote was the result of an open and transparent process, which included an outpouring of support from conservationists and sportsmen across Missouri.
"Firm testing protocols established by the Department of Conservation and the Department of Agriculture, and approved by State Veterinarian Taylor Woods, will ensure that only healthy animals are brought into the state, and that Missouri's livestock industry, private property, and public health and safety are protected.
"Missouri is a national leader in preserving, protecting and managing wildlife and natural resources. Because of our work, the bugle call of native elk will echo across southern Missouri once again, and future generations will be able to enjoy the wonders of this magnificent species.
"I congratulate Conservation Director Ziehmer, the Conservation Commission, the Conservation Federation, and all those who helped Missouri reach this historic milestone."