The National Park Service's plan to thin the elk herd in Theodore Roosevelt National Park has been working well since being implemented in 2010.
Before the plan was approved, the elk herd in the park had grown to more than 1,200 animals, and officials said the ideal size for the herd was no more than 400 elk. All sorts of goofy ideas were discussed as how to reduce the herd, including a suggestion at one point that federal employees shoot the elk from helicopters.
Eventually, with input from state and federal lawmakers and a host of others, a relatively simple plan was approved that used volunteer hunters gathered from a nation-wide application process. Under the watch of federal employees, the volunteers shoot the elk, and the meat is processed and donated to food pantries and American Indian Tribes.
To date, the program has provided about 45 tons of elk meat, and has reduced the herd to a managable size of about 300 elk. While praising the program's continuing success, we also wonder if at least some of the elk meat could be sold, with all the money raised going to charities that aren't currently benefitting from the donation of meat.
Such a change shouldn't be that difficult to accomplish, and surely it wouldn't take years to approve and wouldn't need to involve a host of federal agencies, as did the initial plan for reducing the herd. The program has greatly helped some charities, but perhaps there are even more that could benefit.