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Elk damage would be covered by Mo. if bill becomes law

Mo. Dept. of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservationwould have to reimburse landowners for any damage caused by the reintroduction of elk, under a bill filed this week in the State Senate.

If passed, the state would be liable for damage to crops, pastures, livestock, buildings and other property, as well as injuries in traffic crashes caused by elk.

The sponsor, State Senator Brian Munzlinger(R, Williamstown), says he would rather see pheasants brought into Missouri than elk.

"I think you could get a lot more people enjoying the sport of hunting if it was pheasants," Munzlinger said.  "(It) probably wouldn't cost near as much, and I'd much rather hit a pheasant than I would an elk with a vehicle."

Aaron Jeffries with the Department of Conservation calls the bill a "slippery slope."

"It opens up a can of worms as to what's next," Jeffries said.  "Is it deer or turkey, waterfowl or squirrels in the attic that might be the next species that they would add to the list?"

The Peck Ranch Conservation Areain rural southeastern Missouri has been selected as the elk reintroduction zone.  Jeffries says that any elk that wander outside the zone will be trapped and returned or euthanized.

Missouri's native elk population is believed to have vanished during the Civil War.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.