LITTLE ROCK – If you want an opportunity to harvest Arkansas’s largest big game animal, now is the time to put your name in the hat. The application period for Arkansas’s public land elk hunting permits is open from 8 a.m., May 1 until 11:59 p.m. June 1.

Twenty-nine permits will be drawn to hunt elk in Arkansas’s Buffalo River Country live on stage at the 22nd Annual Buffalo River Elk Festival, June 29. Twenty-six of those permits will be drawn from applications received through the online application system. The remaining three will be drawn from people who apply onsite during the festival. All permits are drawn from a large squirrel cage, right on the square, and winning applicants will be contacted via phone and email as soon as the drawings are concluded and verified.

Wes Wright, elk program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission expects another excellent year for elk hunters who are successful in drawing a permit.

“We just completed our annual aerial survey and counted 557 elk, which is almost the same count as last year (559),” Wright said. “Overall our herd is in great shape and holding steady.”

Wright says two of the last three years have seen record elk harvests, and additional removal of elk showing possible signs of chronic wasting disease has not created any decrease in the overall population.

“We’re taking a lot of elk out with both hunter harvest and CWD sampling and holding steady, so we may even see a small increase in the future,” Wright said.

Wright says none of the 66 hunter-harvested elk last year came back positive for CWD.

“We had two elk test positive in Newton County that were targeted and removed

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