LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ elk are growing in numbers, the state Game and Fish Commission was told at its monthly meeting Thursday.

The latest aerial count of elk in the Buffalo River country of Northwest Arkansas was 620, according to Wes Wright, AGFC’s elk program coordinator, more than 100 over the previous year’s count. Some elk are missed in the counts from helicopters, Wright said.

The Arkansas elk were reintroduced with 112 imported animals, mostly from Colorado,. beginning in 1981. Limited hunting by permits was started in 1998. With the hunts and natural mortality the elk numbers have continued to slowly increase.

Most of the elk are living on land of the Buffalo National River and on the AGFC’s Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area. Some live on nearby private land where several landowners regard them as nuisances to their livestock.

Wright reported that in the 2012 elk hunting season, a total of 44 elk were taken, 24 by permits on public land and 20 on private land where a different permit system is used.

Wright said wildlife biologists would like to see some shift in the bull elk and cow elk that are taken by hunters. Last season overall, 20 bulls and 24 antlerless or cow elk were checked by hunters. A few more antlerless elk in the hunting totals would be desirable, Wright said.

Applications for the 2013 elk hunt in October will be open all the month of May. Both the applications and the elk hunting permits are free. Applications are done online.

In another action Thursday, the commission allocated $2.7 million to the rehabilitation of Dam 3 on the Spring River near Mammoth Spring. The structure, which helps supply water to the agency’s trout hatchery, was heavily damaged in flooding.

Approval was given to a land swap with the city of North Little Rock for tracts near Faulkner Lake in the eastern part of the city. AGFC’s 43 acres will be exchanged for North Little Rock’s 54 acres. The city is planning a park for off-highway vehicle use.

The commissioners assigned $60,000 for expenses in removing duck blinds on two northeastern Arkansas wildlife management areas, St. Francis Sunken Lands and Big Lake. The work will begin April 15.