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Elk released from holding pen, some with new calves

(Missouri Department of Conservation)

The elk brought to Missouri early last month as part of a restoration project have been released from their holding pen.

The Missouri Department of Conservation released the 34 elk along with five newborn calves on Wednesday.

The adult elk and calves have been fitted with GPS radio collars as part of a cooperative research project with the University of Missouri-Columbia. The collars will help researchers track the elk's health, movement patterns and preferred types of vegetation.

The Missouri Department of Conservation believes that additional elk are pregnant and could have their calves soon.

The Peck Ranch Refuge Area where the elk have been released will remain temporarily closed to the public to allow the elk to get used to their new surroundings.