Like many bloggers, I’ve put myself on a bunch of mailing lists.  Many of them send irrelevant stuff that I pretty much send right to the trash bin.  Others are always worth a closer look, and Jerry Springer’s (no, not that Jerry Springer) Western Hunter was one of those.  Unfortunately, he stopped the regular distribution of the email newsletter and only sends one out now if there’s a particularly newsworthy event or issue… which is why the email in my box yesterday caught my eye. 

Along with some other news, he included a link to a piece on the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s call for volunteers to help thin the elk herd  in the TRNP.  Apparently the herd in the park is almost twice the recommended carrying capacity, and park officials have determined that the best way to manage this is to have volunteer hunters come in and kill them.  Selected volunteers will be expected to commit to five days in the park (volunteers select a week between 11/01/2010 – 01/21/2011), during which time they’ll shoot several of the elk.  In exchange for participation, each hunter will be allowed to take home the meat of one elk (depending on total harvest during the week).  The remainder of the meat will go to food pantries. 

According to the site, the requirements for participation include the physical ability to hunt the North Dakota back country (steep, rugged, and unpredictable weather).  Volunteers must also be able to demonstrate proficiency at the 200 yard range with their chosen rifle (.25 cal or better with bottle-necked cartridges loaded with lead-free bullets), must be able to pass a background check to show that they can legally possess a firearm, and the ability to commit to the full time of the hunt. 

The website also offers a list of FAQs which describe the requirements, the application process, and most importantly, the hunt itself.  The FAQ makes clear that this is not a recreational hunt, and will not necessarily be conducted according to normal sporting standards.  Elk will be located using collared animals, and the hunting teams will be dispatched to those locations.  When the allotted number of animals are killed, the hunt will end for the year. 

It sounds like a good opportunity for hunters interested in helping out to get involved.  I know no one will say, but I can’t help wondering… if this hunt is successful, will it open the doors for similar hunts at other National Parks?  I’m constantly hearing from hunters about how they would like to be called on when the states or Feds are trying to manage game populations… this is the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is (and the cost to the hunters will really only be the travel and lodging expenses). 

Check it out, but if you’re interested, move fast!  The application deadline is August 09 (coming Monday). 

They’re also looking for packers with their own stock to help with the effort.

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