Jackson County's elk population is slowly growing as wildlife officials focus on reintroducing the animals to the area.
The discussion of bringing elk back to the area started nearly 20 years ago according to the Wisconsin State Journal, but it wasn't until July that elk from Kentucky were released in the Black River State Forest.
The project, with about 60 elk in the herd, is a joint effort that includes the Ho-Chunk Nation, Department of Natural Resources, Jackson County Wildlife Fund, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Jackson County Parks & Forestry. The groups together have spent at least $550,000 on the project.
Officials have a goal of growing the herd to 390 elk.
Sand Creek Brewing in Black River Falls donates $1 from each case of bugler Brown Ale to the county's wildlife fund. It generated $1,300 last year.
"Right now (the elk) are tucked off into the corner of the state forest and to be honest, I haven't seen one yet other than what's on the bottle label here," brewery co-founder Jim Wiesender said, referring to the beer logo resembling a bull elk. "I think it's just a matter of time before (elk viewing) really starts popping along."
The last of the elk were eliminated by 1948 due to development and animal hunting, however the joint effort to reintroduce the elk population has brought stakeholders together outside the Nation.
"It's been such a positive project," said Ho-Chunk Nation wildlife biologist Karen Sexton. "To have that clan species return to the landscape and allow those spiritual connections to occur and be a part of their culture is significant."