No it's not raining elk in Kentucky, but it might seem that way in this video. This state's aviation attempts are actually for a good cause.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officials are using helicopters to transport the large animals to various parts of "the elk zone."
The 16 counties that make up the "zone" were established 20 years ago when elk were reintroduced to Kentucky after overhunting and habitat destruction decimated the population.
"It’s been 20 years since we started returning elk to Kentucky," said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "The number of elk transferred to this location in Bell County is small compared to the total number of elk estimated to be on the ground in the elk zone. It speaks to how far we’ve come that we’re now able to establish a research and source herd while providing the public with a prime location to see these magnificent animals in the wild."
Officials estimate that over 11,000 elk now roam across the state and graze on 4 million acres of land reclaimed from strip-mining.
The helicopters, along with low-stress transportation practices for the animals, allow the population to be evenly distributed across Kentucky. It also helps build tourism; people come from all over the world to see the majestic animals.
"We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation and others to help create a memorable wildlife viewing experience for residents and visitors to southeastern Kentucky," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gregory K. Johnson said. "This project is yet another step in our continuing efforts to broaden the distribution of elk in this part of the state and promote tourism and economic opportunities in eastern Kentucky."