Could Elk Live in Southern West Virginia?


The Division of Natural Resources held a public meeting last week to gauge the interest of southern West Virginians on returning Elk to the state.

A 100 people crowded into a conference room last week at Chief Logan Lodge in Logan County. They were there to let the DNR know what they thought about returning Elk to the state of West Virginia. Elk once lived here between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Overwhelmingly participants spoke in favor of returning the animal to the area.

The DNR says they’ve targeted southern West Virginia for a couple reasons. One, studies show that Elk could live in the southern part of the state without significant impact on the citizenry. Two, the animals are already starting to inhabit the southern part of the state as they make their way over the border from Kentucky and Virginia.

From 1997 to 2002 the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife released a total of 1,556 elk that originated from Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah. In 2009 the herd reached the projected goal of 10,000. Virginia reintroduced 75 Elk to the state in 2012. Tennessee and North Carolina have Elk populations as well.

The response to the idea, was overwhelmingly positive. The counties represented were:

  • Logan
  • Mingo
  • Wyoming
  • Roane
  • Marion
  • Lincoln
  • Boone
  • Raleigh
  • Fayette
  • Kanawha
  • Wayne
  • Putnam
  • Harrison
  • Cabell
  • Nicholas
  • McDowell

The cited positives were a boom to the economy in southern West Virginia. The negatives included the rights to hunt on some land in the area and the possibility of a lottery system to be able to hunt elk.