Native Elk are Back in VA; See Them on the Elk Cam & Weigh in on DGIF's Plan

Nov 13, 2018

The majestic elk once roamed southwestern Virginia. They were a food source for native people and later, European settlers from the piedmont to the Appalachian Plateau.  The very last one was shot in 1855.Now Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is out with a plan to restore the once native species to this region, and it’s seeking your comments. 

Elk, once native to Virginia, are returning. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries invites your comments on its Elk management Plan.
Credit David Kalb

David Kalb, project leader for the department of game and inland fisheries, recorded the sounds of a bugling elk in late September.

“The males, during rut, bugle. If you’ve never heard the sound before and you don’t know what it is, it can be spine chilling. They bugle to compete for females, that’s their mating call."

(SOUND of Male Elk bugling)

"Most people don’t even know that there are elk in VA.  This is not an issue that has been on people’s minds for the last hundred years."

Now it’s time for the humans to make their voices heard on how restoring them to several counties in southwestern Virginia, should be handled.

“We’d like to hear comments because this is plan for the citizens of Virginia, so these are Virginia citizens’ Elk and we want to know how they feel about them.. This is a 10-year plan, and for some people, that seems like an eternity, that we’re going to stick to one plan for ten years, but in the grand scheme of things, the way elk reproduce and spread across the landscape, ten years is a drop in the bucket.

The extensive plan, that’s now out for public comment, addresses safety issues, herd management and the charismatic animals’ role as a boon to eco-tourism.

“Unlike other wildlife that scurries away or hides when human presence shows up, Elk stay in the open, which means that you can see them and you can take your family out and connect with wildlife by listening and watching Elk, (connect) to a species that was native and still is native.”

DGIF began Restoration efforts several years ago, and no official count has been done, but Kalb estimates that some 200 elk range around Dickenson, Buchanan, and Wise Counties and several others.  Considered the most charismatic megafauna in North America, southwestern Virginia’s elk are ready for their close-up. A web cam donated by I-go technologies went up two weeks ago. It’s gotten hits from at least 35 states and 40 countries.

Click here for the elk cam, for a direct link to the elk Management plan and the comment page.