Let’s go back a few years to the early 1900s…yes by this time the settlers, miners ,hunters etc. had nearly wiped out many American animals. But then people woke up and saw the writing on the wall. I watched one of the best videos on this subject called Back from the Brink by F W and P. It tells the story of how the State along with many volunteers and hunter dollars brought these animals back to their natural habitat through live trapping, closing seasons, habitat restoration etc. I would recommend this to everyone.

The northern Yellowstone elk herd is one of the most famous in the country. I love them. To hear an elk bugle is a sound that makes you proud to be in the outdoors. They used this herd to virtually re-establish elk all over the U.S. and Canada. This was done by live trapping and shipping them on trains or on trucks to everywhere there was a need. The numbers fluctuated through the years but were pretty consistent at 14,000 to 22,000 elk in the northern herd. This number was established through aerial counts and was done in December and March. The park biologists thought the number should stay at roughly 11,000. There were various methods employed to keep the numbers at that projected level. One of the most effective and least popular was played out in the sixties. The park service enacted a program to shoot the herd down to 5,000 animals. In the cold winter months they herded the animals up with helicopters and literally machine gunned them down. Then they had “Gutters” clean them and drag them to the roads with weasels. Then they were stacked on semis hot and most soured before they reached their destination. Most of them were sent to the Indian reservations. I can still see as a child the blood running down the streets as the truck drivers stopped at the town cafe for lunch.

Once again much of the credit to stopping this atrocity went to the hunters. For whatever motive the elk killing in Yellowstone park stopped. This I believe was in the late 1960s. By 1975 the elk were at an all time high of 23,000. They had unlimited summer range but winter range was a different story. They had a winter kill that season of approximately 10,000 elk. I can remember this well. Will continue tomorrow on the Elk of The Northern Herd.


-Warren Johnson