The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has taken the first steps to reintroduce elk into the Mountain State. Elk haven’t been seen in West Virginia since shortly after the end of the Civil War. The plan is to produce a healthy, free-roaming elk herd across about 123,000 acres of the southwestern region of the state. Once a herd is established and stabilized, hunting will become part of the state’s management plan, according to the WVDNR.
Chris Ryan, a WVDNR biologist, explained, “We’re trying to get a total of 150 elk moved in to create a strong foundation for our herd. On our first trip, we collected 24 elk, a dozen bulls and a dozen cows. These were taken from Kentucky, and all elk were found to be disease free.”
That first group of 24 elk were released into the Tomblin Wildlife Management area in southern West Virginia during a dedication that took place on Dec. 19, 2016. The WVDNR is hoping to release the next batch of elk in January 2018.