Most Texas elk hunters must draw permits in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico etc., pay many thousands of dollars and travel out of state for a chance to hunt free-ranging trophy elk. Yet, elk are native and present in far-West Texas. It should be possible for Texans to hunt wild elk in far-West Texas – at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience.
But Texas’ elk are said to be ‘invasive’ ‘exotic’ intruders that ‘harm ecosystem health’ and endanger Desert Mule Deer and Desert Bighorn Sheep. As such, all elk are ‘lethally-removed’ from all state land managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) in far-West Texas. Private landowners who wish to enter into ‘Co-Operative Agreements” with TPWD for bighorn reintroduction and management are required to remove their elk as well. These removals, combined with unrestricted hunting of elk harm all wildlife – and destroy trophy elk hunting – across far-West Texas.
Elk, bighorn and mule deer are found together throughout the West. These species are complimentary, not ‘competitive’. Elk eradication on Texas public lands, and private lands where bighorn are reintroduced, is a huge disservice to bighorn, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, ranchers, landowners, hunters, local businesses and their employees, conservationists, and TPWD itself.
Although holistic thinking is increasingly accepted by wildlife practitioners, not a single agency, university or conservation organization – including Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation who made this wonderful video – will openly challenge this policy.