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Theodore Roosevelt National Park now accepting applications for volunteer hunters to help with elk cull

July 26, 2010 | 10:53 am

A small group of elk on the Ridgeline Nature Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Earlier this month, officials with the Theodore Roosevelt National Park put out word that it was seeking pro packers to assist with its upcoming elk-reduction efforts. Now, the North Dakota park is accepting applications from hunters interested in volunteering to help cull about 250 cow elk from the herd of approximately 950 animals that make the South Unit area their home.

Up to 20 volunteers will be needed for each of 12 weeks beginning Nov. 1. No hunting license or tags will be required, and there is no fee for participation. Plus, volunteers may receive meat from up to one elk, depending on each week's total harvest success rate.

"There has been a strong interest in volunteering for this program for some time, and we are very pleased to announce the availability of this application," said Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "We have gone to great lengths to automate and streamline the application process, and to ensure the selection of volunteers will be as fair as possible."

In order to be considered, applicants must be able to demonstrate a high level of shooting proficiency using lead-free ammunition, agree to participate for an entire five-day week, self-certify they are fit enough to perform the rigorous activity necessary, be able to legally possess a firearm, and be willing to sign a volunteer agreement after arriving at the park.

Participants also will be expected to assist with field dressing and collecting biological samples and information.

Potential volunteers may apply as individuals; groups of up to four people may apply together. Applications will be accepted only through an online process. Application instructions, forms and frequently asked questions can be found on the park's website

Applications will be accepted through August 9. At the close of the application period, successful candidates will be determined by a random selection, which should be completed by late August.

Questions regarding this volunteer program or opportunities for paid elk-packer positions 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