California Bolsters Genetic Diversity of Wild Elk

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Wildlife managers recently took to the skies of central California in an effort to bolster the genetic diversity of the state’s wild tule elk herd.

“These are big, strong animals. It’s not work for the faint of heart,” Peter Tira, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “Animal safety is the No. 1 priority.”

Biologists netted 60 elk from a helicopter within the fenced San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and carefully lifted them to a gathering point where they were placed in livestock trailers. From there, they were transported about 200 miles to the Carrizo Plain National Monument and released to join the state’s wild herd.

Prior to their departure, biologists examined each animal, took blood and hair samples, and attached a monitoring device in order to track the herd’s movement.

Go here to watch a video of the process.

(Photo source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)