Elk 8-4-2017
Elk 8-4-2017
Elk 8-4-2017
Elk 8-4-2017
Elk 8-4-2017

Elk Herd 7-20-2017
Bull 7-14-2017
Elk Herd 7-14-2017

Information about Elk at Pinicon Ridge Park

Posted:9/13/2017 Linn

 March 2018

In order to ​maintain a manageable and healthy herd, the Linn County Conservation Department (LCCB) intended to reduce the size of the elk herd at Pinicon Ridge Park in the spring of 2017.  Several of the animals were going to be transferred to Black Hawk County Conservation Board (Hickory Hills Park) to be placed in their observation pen, reducing the herd size at Pinicon Ridge.  With park workloads in the spring, that plan never came to fruition.  Keeping in mind a manageable animal ​number in the 6.5 acre pen at Pinicon Ridge Park along with diversifying the animal’s gene pool, the Conservation Department ​continued its intent in the fall to reduce the size of its herd.   Therefore, in December, 2017, ​LCCB traded with Black Hawk ​County Conservation (BHCCB)  two of their cows for one cow from BHCCB.  This cow from Hickory Hills Park would bring in a new genetic line to the existing herd at Pinicon Ridge and was more than likely already bred from a male at BHCCB's pen.  Plans were also to give BHCCB two of the three males the following spring of 2018 after they had shed their antlers.    At around that same time in late 2017, LCCB found out that Polk County Conservation Board were looking to add more cows into their display herd.  Arrangements were made and in January of 2018, five more female elk from the Pinicon Ridge herd went to Jester Park in Polk County.  This reduced the existing herd size to 4 animals (three males, 1 (new) female).   In late March 2018, two of the three male elk from Pinicon Ridge Park were transferred to Hickory Hills Park.  This left a 3 year old male Elk and a 3 year old (new) cow at Pinicon Ridge Park.   With the herd reduced to two animals now will mean more available grazing browse, less chances of communicable diseases being spread, less male rivalry fighting for breeding rights and overall less stress on the herd.  It also means less of an impact on Department budgets for feed and veterinarian expenses.   The herd will continue to have health inspections by a local veterinarian as well as an annual inspection from a State Veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.​



December, 2017

Linn County Conservation traded two female elk to Black Hawk County for one of their female elk.  The purpose of this was two-fold.    

1.  To help reduce the herd numbers to a more manageable and healthy number in the current pen.

2.  To introduce new genetic diversity into the existing herd.   

This is in conjunction with ​the Elk Care Management Plan ​which will continue to be followed to manage the herd for the best interest of the animals.  There will be an additional four-five cows going to Polk County Conservation in the coming months.  The goal is to get the herd numbers located within the Alexander Wildlife Area down to two to four animals .  Future plans may include introducing or trading animals to further diversify the genetics in the elk herd. 


The elk within the Alexander Wildlife Area continue to be active and appear to be larger in body mass, which is typical as the summer months wind down and the rutting season begins.  Since reporting to the Linn County Board of Supervisors in early August on the health and condition of the elk, the Conservation department continues to receive additional professional consultation. Mineral blocks available in the pen that have been used to supplement the elk’s nutritional regimen contains six core micro-minerals required for health: zinc, manganese, cobalt, copper, iodine, and iron.  Blood samples collected from two of the animals (described as “thinner in appearance” in the report to the Board of Supervisors) indicated low copper levels.  With assistance from the Linn County Public Health Department and Iowa Hygienic Laboratory, the pond within the enclosed area was tested for Blue-Green Algae toxin Microcystin.The results indicated no toxins within this pond.

We encourage the public to view the elk at Pinicon Ridge Park for their enjoyment and we remind visitors to please respect the signage  

view photos of the elk here



Linn County Conservation presented an update to the Linn County Board of Supervisors on the current condition and well-being of the elk at Pinicon Ridge Park.  view the report here 



Staff from Linn County Conservation have been asked today to attend the Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, August 9 ​to discuss additional findings regarding ​the elk located at the Alexander Wildlife Area at Pinicon Ridge Park.  Additional examinations have taken place and more samples collected for more comprehensive testing and evaluation. Linn County Conservation is currently awaiting results and analysis of the samples. Although not required by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and not initially recommended as treatment due to initial testing due to a lack of a significant parasite load, Fenbendazole (safeguard) pellets have been administered to elk as a proactive ​measure. Laboratory results, which include ongoing consultation with professionals experienced with non-domesticated animals​, will help shape the care action plan going forward.  Department staff look forward to sharing these results and findings with the Board of Supervisors.  Care of the elk continues to be a top priority, and Linn County Conservation ​will continue to address the concerns regarding their care.



Linn County Conservation recently received questions about the elk and their care in the Alexander Wildlife Area at Pinicon Ridge Park.  The Alexander Wildlife Area, a 6.5  acre area, was established in 1968 at Pinicon Ridge Park. It is named after former Conservation Board member Dick Alexander for his efforts in wildlife conservation and education to further establish the county’s wildlife restocking efforts at that time.  We currently have American Elk. The first Elk was purchased from Polk County and brought to the Alexander Wildlife Area in 1981. The park is open daily from 4AM to 10:30PM.  Entrance to the park and to view the wildlife pen is free. Please observe the signage and do not feed the animals.


There are currently nine adult elk, all of which were born in the pen.  We welcomed a new calf born in June and it is currently nursing from one of the Cows.  The bull elk is now eight years old.  Due to the increase in his age, this bull is showing signs of muscle mass loss, which is common in cervids as they grow older.  Decreases in overall size and health is also common.  He still has a very nice set of antlers and the nutrition may be supporting his antler growth, growing almost one inch per day.  Nutrition to the antler growth will end sometime in early August and he will then begin shedding the velvet from the antlers.  Bulls at this age often will gain more mass before the breeding season or in the fall. 

Current Condition  After an inquiry regarding the care of the elk, a local veterinarian conducted an on-site examination July 13.  Conclusion from this inspection is that the herd continues to have adequate and appropriate food, fresh water, and appears to be quite content.  This examination included collecting fecal samples that did not show evidence of a significant parasite load, thus no treatment option has been recommended at this time.  The State Veterinarian also conducted an on-site examination, concurring with the facts provided. 

Linn County Conservation follows the advice and the recommendations of certified veterinarians and the State Veterinarian’s Office in providing continuing care for these animals.  In conversations with our local veterinarian and the State Veterinarian, the current recommendation is to collect additional fecal samples for testing.  The health and well-being of the elk is very important to us and we will continue to monitor and provide the proper care.

Nutrition and Feeding  Elk graze on the abundant legumes and grasses that are available within the entire 6.5 acres.   Inside the Alexander Wildlife Area, the elk have access to plenty of fresh water, as well as corn, salt, and mineral blocks.   However, elk traditionally do not have much interest in corn this time of year, preferring to graze on fresh green vegetation.  Although free ranging cervids are not de-wormed, there is a de-worming block in the pen and care is being taken to ensure parasite-free elk. Appearance: Frequent visitors to the Alexander Wildlife Area may see that the elk again have been transitioning to their summer coat, similar to whitetail deer.   The coat is very thin compared to their winter coat.   Some animals are still shedding their winter coat, which accounts for a “white fuzz” showing on their hair.  

General Care The elk and the rest of the wildlife in the pen are observed daily by Pinicon Ridge Park staff.  The State Veterinarian inspects the animals within the pen annually, which just occurred this past December, as well as this month. Linn County Conservation is a 15 year participant in the Iowa Voluntary Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) program and have records on file for CWD testing.   There have been no positive tests indicating the presence of CWD.  

We encourage guests to Pinicon Ridge Park to view these and other wildlife that are native to Iowa throughout the year.  The Alexander Wildlife Area is at the entrance of the park at 4732 Horseshoe Falls Road, Central City.   If you have any questions or concerns, you may call the Linn County Conservation office at conservation@linncounty.org  or (319) 892-6450