La Plata County Elk Research Operation Closing Down

As Fort Lewis College prepares to take over 6,300 acres of state land in La Plata County a controversial elk research operation is moving out.

The Durango Herald reports that Fort Lewis College is expected to take over the state land at Old Fort, south of Hesperus, starting July 1 and has said it will not extend the lease for ElkQuest, an elk hunting and chronic wasting disease research operation.

Owner Barry Dyar established the Elk Research Institute in 2003 with the goal of breeding an animal resistant to chronic wasting disease, an illness that causes slow starvation in elk, deer and moose. Over the years he has been accused of using the research as a front for an expensive private hunting ground.