September 2, 2009
Virginia Moves Toward Restoring Elk Population
MISSOULA, Mont.—Kentucky’s elk herd runneth over, and Virginia has decided to welcome the overflow and build a sustainable, huntable population of its own.
In August, the governing board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) voted unanimously to end unmanaged harvest of elk by state deer hunters. For years, any Virginian with a deer permit could shoot an elk wandering across the state line from Kentucky. That practice is expected to officially end this fall.
Additionally, the VDGIF board also moved toward an official elk reintroduction and management plan for southwestern Virginia.
“Kudos to conservation leaders in Virginia. Restoring a native game species to management levels is one of the highest achievements in conservation, and it’s great to see Virginia aspiring to that goal for elk,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
He added, “The Elk Foundation is extremely proud of the role we played in restoring elk to neighboring Kentucky. With a lot of money, technical assistance from our staff and support from our volunteers, we helped relocate over 1,500 elk to Kentucky between 1997 and 2002. Today that herd has more than 11,000 animals and offers incredible hunting opportunities with legitimate chances to take world-class bulls.”
Research shows that Kentucky elk have dispersed into four neighboring states with varying degrees of hospitality. Virginians originally wanted to keep elk out but now the culture appears to be changing, said Allen.
As an extension of its mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat, RMEF promotes sound management of wild, free-ranging elk, which may be hunted or otherwise enjoyed.
A YouTube video clip of the VDGIF board discussion and vote is available at HuntingLife.com at the URL below.