390303 12: A pronghorn wanders the Elkhorn Plain near the Temblor Range, background, whichs rises from the San Andreas Fault at its base, in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, May 31, 2001. The great San Joaquin Valley was once home to huge herds of pronghorns and tule elk, numbering in the thousands, until hunting and farming had wiped out so many that the tule elk were thought to be extinct. President Bill Clinton established the national monument in his final days in office to save the last large remnant of the aboriginal ocean of grassland that once covered central California. In late March, President George W. Bush announced his intention to review the Carrizo with an eye toward opening the monument to oil exploration. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri Department of Conservation biologist says state residents have made it clear they want the first elk hunt in the state to be open to all Missourians, regardless of income level.

Aaron Hildreth says he heard that comment several times during three recent public meetings on the possibility of elk hunting returning to the state.

The Springfield News-Leader reports if the state’s elk herd continues to grow, a hunt could occur as soon as 2020.

Hildreth said most people also want the hunt limited to Missourians, who pay an eighth-of-a-cent tax to support conservation. He says if the herd grows, non-residents perhaps could seek a permit in the future.

Elk were reintroduced in Missouri in 2011.

Hildreth says it could be a year before elk regulations are finalized.