Elk NetworkApplication Period Open for Kentucky Elk Hunt, 25 Years after Elk Restoration

General | January 17, 2022

The application period is open until April 30 for Kentucky’s 2022 elk hunt. There are 594 permits allocated for it.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation played a major role in restoring wild, free-ranging elk to their historic Kentucky Range. RMEF worked with the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission – now the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFWR) – to carry out a feasibility study to determine whether returning elk to their native range would work in the first place.

Then on December 17, 1997, with more than 4,000 people looking on, biologists released seven elk (see above photo) returning wapiti to the Bluegrass State for the first time in about a century. RMEF also provided more than $1.4 million dollars to assist with the first relocation of elk from Kansas to Kentucky as well as subsequent reintroductions from other states over the next five years.

In 2001, biologists determined the elk population was thriving to the point it was healthy and sustainable so KDFWR created an elk hunting season which since generated significant funding to assist the elk management program.

Today, there are more than 11,000 elk in Kentucky, the largest herd east of the Mississippi River.

Go here to watch a KDFWR video produced marking the 20th anniversary of Kentucky’s elk restoration.