Photos of the wild elk seen in Portage were posted on social media this week.
A wild elk that had wandered south earlier this year has been photographed in Columbia County.
The male elk was seen near Portage and comes from the herd in Jackson County, confirmed Scott Roepke, an area wildlife supervisor with the state Department of Natural Resources.
Born in 2017, the elk’s tracking collar is no longer functioning, but the animal can be identified by his ear tag, Roepke said.
The elk wandered south in September during the breeding season and has been spotted in neighboring counties.
The DNR imported elk from Kentucky earlier this decade and introduced 73 of them to the Black River State Forest area in 2015 and 2016.
State Journal reporter Emily Hamer contributed to this report.
Gallery: Elk reintroduction efforts in Jackson County
Elk linger in a quarantine pen earlier this year prior to being released in July in the Black River State Forest in Jackson County. The elk were captured in Kentucky, shipped to Wisconsin and held in the pen for 120 days. The elk joined another herd of 13 animals that were released in 2015. A herd established in 1995 near Clam Lake in far northern Wisconsin has 160 elk.
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Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is framed by elk antlers and a tracking collar in his office in Black River Falls, Wis. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Frayed bark in the Black River State Forest shows where a bull elk used its antlers to repeatedly rub a tree. Elk can be hard to spot but the rubbing, elk droppings and tracks in the sand are signs that elk have returned to Jackson County.
Trail camera images of elk recently reintroduced into the Black River State Forest are displayed on the mobile phone of Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. Several hundred trail cameras and scores of volunteers are helping to monitor the elk herd.
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Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the process of a recent elk re-introduction effort in the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls, Wis. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
A billboard along Highway 54 near in Black River Falls promotes the return of elk that were reintroduced in 2015 with a second herd added in July.
The return of elk to Jackson County inspired the owners of Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls to create Bugler Brown Ale. A portion of the sales is donated to the Jackson County Wildlife Fund, which is among many organizations supporting elk reintroduction.
Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, shows off a radio collar used to track the location of elk throughout Jackson County. Newborn elk are equipped with an expandable collar tha adjusts as the calf grows.
Scott Roepke, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, uses a radio antenna last week to track the location of elk recently re-introduced into the Black River State Forest near Black River Falls. About 60 animals inhabit a 320-square-mile area with hopes that the herd will grow to 390 elk.
A street sign in a neighborhood of the Ho-Chunk Indian Nation near Black River Falls reflects the tribe's long history with the once-native elk that roamed throughout the state until the mid- to late 1800s.