MILWAUKEE — Authorities say a bull elk was illegally shot and killed on the opening day of the Wisconsin gun deer hunting season.
The state Department of Natural Resources said the shooting happened in Columbia County about 7 a.m. Saturday, which was 30 minutes after the official start of deer hunting. The elk was seized as evidence.
DNR officials said they have a suspect. The department has not said if that person is from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has a limited elk hunt in the northern elk range, but elk are protected in the rest of the state, including Columbia County.
It's the fourth straight year in which at least one elk has been illegally killed by a gun deer hunter. One one occasion, in 2019, a 41-year-old Mukwonago woman killed two bulls within minutes of each other on private property in Rusk County on the third day of the gun deer season.
Gallery: Elk reintroduction efforts in Jackson County
Elk linger in a quarantine pen earlier this year prior to being released in July in the Black River State Forest in Jackson County. The elk were captured in Kentucky, shipped to Wisconsin and held in the pen for 120 days. The elk joined another herd of 13 animals that were released in 2015. A herd established in 1995 near Clam Lake in far northern Wisconsin has 160 elk.
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Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is framed by elk antlers and a tracking collar in his office in Black River Falls, Wis. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Frayed bark in the Black River State Forest shows where a bull elk used its antlers to repeatedly rub a tree. Elk can be hard to spot but the rubbing, elk droppings and tracks in the sand are signs that elk have returned to Jackson County.
Trail camera images of elk recently reintroduced into the Black River State Forest are displayed on the mobile phone of Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. Several hundred trail cameras and scores of volunteers are helping to monitor the elk herd.
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Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the process of a recent elk re-introduction effort in the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls, Wis. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
A billboard along Highway 54 near in Black River Falls promotes the return of elk that were reintroduced in 2015 with a second herd added in July.
The return of elk to Jackson County inspired the owners of Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls to create Bugler Brown Ale. A portion of the sales is donated to the Jackson County Wildlife Fund, which is among many organizations supporting elk reintroduction.
Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, shows off a radio collar used to track the location of elk throughout Jackson County. Newborn elk are equipped with an expandable collar tha adjusts as the calf grows.
Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, uses a radio antenna last week to track the location of elk recently re-introduced into the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls. About 60 animals inhabit a 320-square-mile area with hopes that the herd will grow to 390 elk.
A street sign in a neighborhood of the Ho-Chunk Indian Nation near Black River Falls reflects the tribe's long history with the once-native elk that roamed throughout the state until the mid- to late 1800s.