Elk NetworkWestern Habitat Treatment Enhances Kentucky Elk Habitat

Conservation | May 8, 2018

Brush chaining is a method used mostly out West to enhance wildlife habitat but the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFW) is taking a page from the westerners to improve elk habitat within Kentucky’s borders.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding so KDFW could use two tractors to pull a 360-foot, 18,000-pound chain behind them. The goal is to rip the root systems of the invasive plant autumn olive out of the ground. The noxious species can grow as tall as 20 feet and crowds out native shrubs and grasses beneficial to elk and other wildlife.
“It’s a very aggressive species. It can overtake an open meadow field really quickly,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF conservation program manager. “One of the things we do year in and year out is try to fund and support these habitat projects—to do stewardship on the ground to make a difference for elk, for other wildlife.”
Autumn olive is so thick that prescribed burning will not make a difference. After brush chaining, the meadow areas will be reseeded followed by the use of prescribed fire in the future which will lead to better grasslands, better hunting and better wildlife viewing.
“What it comes down to oftentimes is just finding the right tool in the toolbox. And this gives us one more. Hopefully what we learn here we can take to other southern states, especially in the southern Appalachians,” added Dobey.
See the RMEF project in the video above from 8:38 to 14:34.
(Video source: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife)