How fares the Mountain State's new herd of free-range elk? Hikers will have an opportunity to find out in September and October during a series of guided tours of the reintroduction site.
The four-hour tours start at the Chief Logan State Park lodge and range over two miles or more of rugged terrain, according to park naturalist Lauren Cole, who will explain the history of the elk, or wapiti, and the management program.
Cole says there are no guarantees, which roams Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, which includes more than 25,000 acres in Logan and Mingo counties.
“These elk are not in pens or enclosures. They are free-roaming, breeding, and reestablishing a population,” Cole said.
“Although there is no guarantee of seeing elk, the overall goal is to understand the terrain and vegetation of sustainable elk habitat, to observe tracks and signs not only of elk but also other big game and nongame wildlife in the area.
"We will approach the tour from more of a hunting aspect—tracking and observation.”
The herd now roams the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, which includes more than 25,000 acres in Logan and Mingo counties.
West Virginia’s last native elk was taken in Webster County in 1875.
Participants are required to wear boots or sturdy closed-toe footwear, Cole said, and food, pets, and scented products are discouraged.
Tours will be offered at 4 p.m. Advance registration is required, with payment must be made at the time of registration.
Tours are limited to 12 persons. The cost is $30 per adult and $27 for youth 15 and younger and includes breakfast or afternoon snack, the educational program, transportation, and a tour souvenir.
An overnight tour package includes accommodations for two at Chief Logan Lodge and two elk tour tickets for $150.
All available tour dates, details, and reservations can be made here.
Chief Logan Lodge is near Chief Logan State Park and Logan, West Virginia, in Logan County and features a restaurant, conference center, and 75-room lodge.
2019 Elk Management Project Schedule
Thursday, Sept.19 — Evening
Saturday, Sept. 21 — Evening
Sunday, Sept. 22 — Evening
Thursday, Oct. 3 — Evening
Saturday, Oct. 5 — Evening
Sunday, Oct. 6 — Evening
Thursday, Oct. 10 — Evening
Saturday, Oct. 12 — Evening
Sunday, Oct. 13 — Evening
Thursday, Oct. 17 — Evening
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Morning
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Evening
Sunday, Oct. 20 — Evening