CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The W.Va. Division of Natural Resources will introduce 40 new elk to the Mountain State’s growing herd in 2024 and create a visitors center and observation tower in Logan County to help wildlife enthusiasts observe the animals in a natural setting.
According to Gov. Jim Justice, who announced the effort during his State of the State address, the introduction of elk (Cervus canadensis) has been a highlight of his administration.
“As a lifelong sportsman, I am beyond proud of the work the W.Va. DNR has done since I took office to not only restore elk to West Virginia but to manage our growing herd so that folks can enjoy this magnificent native species for years to come,” Justice said.
The state's elk population was 22 when the governor took office in 2018, and the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources has since introduced 57 elk, including 15 specimens from Kentucky and 42 from Arizona.
The current elk population is 110, and the herd roams the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, which includes more than 25,155 acres in Logan and Mingo counties in the state's southwestern mountains.
Brett McMillion, director of the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, thanked the division's partners, including the W.Va. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
"West Virginia’s total elk population is five times greater today than when we started our Elk Restoration Project in 2016,” McMillion said.
Partner agencies include the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The 40 elk will be transported from Kentucky's Land-Between-the-Lakes National Recreation Area and arrive Jan. 22-26. Upon arrival, the elk will be evaluated and held briefly before being released into the wild.
Since 2018, the division has offered guided elk tours in Logan County, where participants can learn more about the history of the species and get a chance to see elk in a natural setting. Tours are offered in September and October each year and usually sell out.
Find out more about the Elk Visitor Center of Observation Tower.
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