Colorado

Oct 27, 2009 7:26 AM by Associated Press

Park flights planned to estimate number of elk

Planes and helicopters will fly over Rocky Mountain National Park over the next five months to estimate the number of elk in a herd that park officials want to cull. A plane and helicopter will fly at different altitudes to enhance the monitoring.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey are working together on the study.
Park officials have a 20-year plan that includes using sharpshooters to cull the herd. They want to thin the herd because overgrazing by elk has nearly wiped out aspens and willows - prime habitat for beavers and birds.

There are an estimated 600 to 800 elk in the park and 1,000 to 1,300 elk in and around the neighboring town of Estes Park.

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