I was just surfing the internet and happened upon this link on the VDGIF website. It seems my home state of Virginia has finally come around to the idea that restoring elk in Southwest Virginia is a good idea. Elk were once native to Virginia, but it has been centuries since an actual "population" was present.
Currently Virginia has an elk season that runs concurrent with deer season and allows the use of deer tags to check elk. Elk are present in Virginia because Kentucky has undertaken a restoration program in the past decade that has resulted in a breeding population of elk and a hunting season. Occasionally these elk cross into the mountains of Virginia and a few are killed each year during deer season. The new amendment calls for elk hunting to end in Virginia so that restoration can begin. I am all for a halt to the killing of elk until a stable population is restored in the state.
Virginia's mountains have some great habitat for elk that is essentially the same as Kentucky's. Also, much of Southwest Virginia is covered in State and National Forest land. Hopefully this will allow a herd to be established quickly. It would be awesome to not have to travel out West to hunt this magnificent animal! My dream hunt is an archery hunt for elk. The only issue I have with this amendment is that if a herd is established and an elk season is eventually instated, I would want Virginia hunters to be the ones who benefit from this experiment. If Virginia sells tags to the highest bidder, and doesn't have a lottery that rewards Virginians I would be furious. Giving 75 percent of tags to Virginians in a lottery at a reasonable price, and then selling out of state tags at "market" value seems fair to me.
I'll try and stay on top of this story. I'd be very interested to your opinions on the policy of restoring native animals into areas that they haven't inhabited for centuries. Let me know what you think!