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Elk at Hillview Recreation Area

A bull elk roams the pasture at Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa, in this undated photo.

HINTON, Iowa | Back in the 1800s, it wouldn't have been unusual to see elk herds roaming through Siouxland. Elk were native to Iowa, but once settlers arrived, they were pushed out.

But a small herd roams what were once native grasslands in Hillview Recreation Area, a 275-acre park located one mile west of Hinton.

One bull and three cows make up the recreation area's herd.

The elk herd was donated in 2001, and has been maintained on a 15-acre fenced area at the park.

In a normal near, three calves are born and then sold as yearlings.

One of the main draws to the herd is the bull elk, whose massive antlers grow all summer. By winter, the antlers are full-grown and provide visitors with many opportunities for great photos. The bull then loses his antlers in late winter or early spring before growing a new set.

The elk are a popular attraction in addition to everything else the park has to offer.

"We get quite a few people who come to see them," said Nick Beeck, director of the Plymouth County Conservation Department.

According to its website, Hillview Recreation Area contains a mixture of open grasslands, restructured prairie, woodlands and wildlife habitat. It offers camping, cabins, fishing, swimming, hiking, horseback riding and cross country skiing over a network of trails, snow tubing and hunting.

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