UK students survey Kentucky elk population from the sky

Published: Mar. 10, 2017 at 12:06 AM EST
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The University of Kentucky's Department of Forestry program spent Thursday in the sky, surveying the elk and whitetail deer population in the region.

Some of Dr. John Cox's students spent the day viewing Robinson Forest.

"Ten thousand acres is a pretty good chunk of land to survey," Dr. Cox said. "So we spent about three hours looking over the entire forest."

From 1997 to 2002, elk were reintroduced to 16 counties in Kentucky.

"There's quite a few of them now in Eastern Kentucky," Dr. Cox said. "We think maybe 10,000 elk or more that are there. Which is about twice the number that are in Yellowstone National Park."

Dr. Cox said surveying plays an important role when it comes to the state's elk population.

"They are a six- or 700-pound animal, and they do consume five to six times more food than a whitetail deer, so they can have substantial impact," Dr. Cox said.

Dr. Cox said they only saw five elk on Thursday.

He believes that is because warm weather has changed some of their daily grazing patterns.