Elk NetworkHelp Monitor Wisconsin’s Elk Herds

General | July 6, 2022

Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking volunteers to host cameras in the Flambeau River State Forest and Clam Lake to effectively monitor the reintroduced elk herds in Wisconsin.

A large number of volunteer cameras are still needed to monitor the elk. Volunteer-managed cameras in the elk reintroduction areas have helped DNR research scientists and biologists monitor important herd metrics, including estimated population size, cow and bull ratios and bull age structure. The monitoring is part of the DNR’s Snapshot Wisconsin program, a volunteer-based project for wildlife monitoring.

Training and equipment are provided free of charge to approved volunteers assigned a camera located within their preferred elk reintroduction area. Volunteers interested must check cameras every 90 days, change out batteries and SD cards, then securely upload photos to Snapshot Wisconsin.

Trail cameras have been an accurate and effective method to collect data on the elk herd without disturbing them. The DNR uses these metrics to make informed management decisions to ensure a sustainable and healthy herd.

You can apply for a camera used to monitor elk with Snapshot Wisconsin’s elk project application.

Requirements for participation include:

  • Basic computer skills
  • Access to high-speed internet
  • Ability to check the camera every 90 days for at least one year


Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Wisconsin now boasts a healthy, growing elk population thanks to two restoration efforts that began in 1995 and concluded in 2019, both assisted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 594 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $11.9 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 1,261,048 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 2,000 acres.

The Clam Lake Elk Range covers 1,620 square miles and reaches into portions of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk and Sawyer counties – Wisconsin’s northern elk zone where the first restoration effort began in 1995 with 25 elk from Michigan.

From 2017-2019, 91 elk from Kentucky were released to bolster the Clam Lake elk herd population, which has grown to an estimated 330 animals. Additionally, 73 elk were reintroduced to the 252-square-mile Black River Elk Range from 2015-2016, and the population today is estimated at 115 animals, bringing the statewide total population estimate to 445 elk.

Snapshot Wisconsin is a year-round monitoring effort using a statewide network of trail cameras. The project provides data needed for wildlife management decision support. It is also a unique opportunity for individuals, families and students to get involved in monitoring the state’s valuable natural resources.

Visit here to volunteer to monitor elk herds in Wisconsin.

(Photo credit:  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)