Elk NetworkKentucky Elk Biologist Receives RMEF Excellence in Elk Country Award

General | May 29, 2024

Photo info: Dan Crank (right) straps a tracking collar onto one of the many elk he and Charlie Logsdon (left) captured in 2001 and 2002

Dan Crank is at home on elk range. An elk biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), he devoted his career to learning about and looking after elk and elk habitat. For his dedicated efforts, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation presented Crank with its 2024 Excellence in Elk Country Award.

“I am very honored to receive this award and being  the first eastern elk manager to get it, makes it even more special to me,” said Crank. “I would like to thank RMEF for all the years of support you have provided to eastern elk management and the great partnerships that have been formed. Thank you for this award. It is a great honor to accept it.”

“Dan’s work speaks for itself. He has earned the respect of his peers in the wildlife and conservation profession,” said Karie Decker, RMEF director of wildlife and habitat. “His life work highlights a commitment and devotion to the conservation of wild, free-ranging elk, other wildlife and their habitat. To Dan we say, ‘Thank you.’”

Crank’s focus during his earliest years at KDFWR was on the restoration of the Kentucky elk herd. He was a key member of the capture crew during the elk translocations from western source populations to Kentucky, and performed intensive monitoring of the reintroduced individuals during the months when capture did not take place.

By 2011, Crank supplied key support by planning and implementing capture efforts for elk translocation to Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin, all projects also heavily supported by RMEF. As that happened, he also provided ongoing input and suggestions about Kentucky elk management policy, particularly regarding structure of the state’s elk hunting season and management zones.

Over the years, he also spent many hours conceptualizing, planning and implementing elk research projects. To date, he played major roles in at least 10 postgraduate projects focused on the Kentucky elk herd and co-authored many journal articles and conference proceedings directly related to this work.

“Dan also contributed to the professional growth of many others in the wildlife field. As one of Kentucky’s longest tenured elk biologists, he’s provided on-the-job training to dozens of early career wildlife professionals about elk capture techniques, best practices for wildlife chemical immobilization, mitigation of elk nuisance and damage, and many other topics that can’t be learned in a classroom setting,” said Decker.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University, Dan Crank earned an M.S. from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln examining human dimensions of the Nebraska elk herd. After completing his graduate studies in 1998, he started working as a technician on the fledgling Kentucky elk restoration project. KDFWR hired him in 2000 as one of its two full-time elk field biologists.

(Photo credit: Dan Crank)