State May Intervene In Failed Cherokee County Elk Roundup

Seven weeks after their escape, seven of 10 Rocky Mountain elk are still on the loose—and two calves have been reported.

GON Staff | July 19, 1999

After nearly two months of effort to recapture them, seven of 10 escaped cow elk roaming free in Cherokee County are still on the loose, but state wildlife officials are taking steps to bring the elk roundup to an end.

On April 29, 10 Rocky Mountain elk being held in a barn near Woodstock escaped into a tract of woods just north of Woodstock between Highway 5 and I-575.

The elk, owned by Stephen Nedza, of Watkinsville, were being transported from a wildlife auction in Missouri to Nedza’s Watkinsville farm by Woodstock resident David Tritt. Tritt had unloaded the elk into a barn on his property on April 26, and three days later they broke out.

To date, only three elk have been recaptured. One elk was caught the next day; another was darted and recovered, and in early June, a third elk was caught in a corral trap. Seven weeks after their escape, seven elk still roam in Cherokee County.

The Wildlife Resources Division’s approach had been to give the owner time to recover his property, but that grace period may be coming to an end. According to Scott Frazier, a technician with the WRD Special Permits section, WRD officials planned to meet with Stephen Nezda on Monday, June 21 to discuss the resolution of the free-roaming exotics.

“There is a provision in the wildlife law that says when an exotic animal escapes and can’t be recaptured then the deparement (DNR) may choose to remove the animal,” said Scott. “Apparently, these animals can’t be recaptured.”

If WRD elects  to step in and remove the exotics, the most likely method of removal would be by use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Service’s animal control personnel. USDA sharpshooters wold spotlight the animals at night and shoot them.

According to Ken Riddleberger with the WRD Special Permits section, the elk had been transported into Georgia without authorization. Criminal charges against Nedza and/or Tritt had been tabled pending until the recapture of the elk. The elk, worth about $850 apiece, had been destined for a breeding operation at Nedza’s farm.

Meanwhile, some of the elk had been bred and are calving. According to Scott, two elk calves have been reported.

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