A plan by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) could bring back elk to southern West Virginia in a massive reintroduction effort. Following the results of a feasibility study, officials are now considering transporting elk from Kentucky to create a native elk herd.
According to Metro News, the last wild elk in West Virginia was harvested in 1875. Although there have been confirmed sightings of elk across the southern stretches of the state, most of these encounters are believed to be elk traveling from nearby Kentucky. Building off the work of states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas, which have successfully reintroduced elk, West Virginia officials are moving forward with a program that could take as long as two decades to complete.
“The southern coalfields have the least amount of suitable habitat,” said DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “But, there is no farming and no crop damage down there and the people would accept it. Plus we know Kentucky has had success with similar land and we knew this was the first place to start looking.”