The next phase of Virginia's elk restoration project begins April 11, 2014, with the arrival of the final group of animals from bordering Kentucky. Approximately 45 elk, 14 bulls and 31 cows (16 of which are pregnant), from Kentucky, will join the 25 to 30 existing elk in the War Fork region of Buchanan County.
"What we're going to do now is manage them," Regional Wildlife Manager with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Allen Boynton told the Bristol Herald Courier. "One way to do that is make elk meadows, where we actively plant forage that's attractive to them and then they'll tend to stay in that area."
According to the VDGIF, public interest to restore elk in Virginia has continued to increase since the 90s. Originally elk were found in the state, until the lack of habitat and unregulated hunting of the species eliminated them during the late 1800s. Previous attempts to restore elk have failed. The current restoration plan includes considerations for biological, sociological, economic and environmental issues. The goal is to grow the population to about 400 before permitting restricted hunting, according to the Washington Post.
The new arrivals will be held in a corral for a week before being released into the wild, where a large crowd is expected to gather early Friday morning.