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National Park seeking pro packers to help with elk cull

July 7, 2010 |  2:05 pm
A small group of elk on the Ridgeline Nature trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is looking for a few good men -- and women -- to assist with its upcoming elk-reduction efforts.

The North Dakota park plans to have teams made up of staff and volunteers help cull about 250 cow elk from the herd of approximately 950 animals that make the South Unit area their home. What is needed is assistance and support, beginning as early as Oct. 10, from experienced meat packers to collect and transport the elk meat via horse and mule team to a cold-storage area centrally located within the park.

"Safe and efficient removal of elk from the field is critical to the success of the program," said Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "Although we are not yet asking for volunteers to sign up to assist with the elk reduction, we are currently looking for packers who would work as paid contractors to haul elk out of the park's back country."

Packers will need to be experienced in using pack animals in rough badlands terrain and must provide their own pack stock, trailer and tow vehicle(s).

Those interested in working with the National Park Service in this capacity must register in the Central Contractor Registration and the Online Representations and Certifications Application databases by Aug. 6. Once registered, individuals will receive information on the requirements and how the contracting process will proceed.

"Having packers assist with the removal of elk meat from the field will allow the volunteer teams more time to concentrate on reducing the number of elk in the park," Naylor said. "It will make our operation as efficient as possible."

The meat collected will be tested for chronic wasting disease and, if there is no evidence of CWD, will be donated to state agencies, American Indian tribes and approved charities and organizations, with most expected to go to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for distribution.

Questions regarding opportunities for packers should be directed to Bill Whitworth, Theodore Roosevelt National Park resource management chief, at (701) 623-4466.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A small group of elk on the Ridgeline Nature Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Credit: Nathan King / National Park Service