Wildlife officials are hopeful the state's elk herd has turned the corner and will continue to grow.

Once decimated, the elk was reintroduced to its native Wisconsin in the Clam Lake area of the northwest in 1995 in hopes of restoring the species.

This year's crop of thirty-six young calves may be a sign the elk can survive here once again. Laine Stowell is an elk biologist with the DNR. He says the calves are healthier and stronger than in years past. A good sign they will make it through the winter.

Stowell says there was some concern after the population declined for two years. But the DNR discovered humans were inadvertently to blame by baiting and feed the elk. That helped parasites spread among the herd and lured many of the animals closer to areas where they would be hit by vehicles or fall through thin ice.

But Stowell says once area residents were told that's what was happening they voluntarily stopped out of a love for the indigenous species.

Stowell says the population goal is to have fourteen-hundred elk living in an eleven-hundred square mile area of the state. Something he doesn't expect see in his lifetime but he believes we're off to a good start helping the elk survive for future generations.

AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:25 MP3 )

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