Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Finally! Elk Restoration in Virginia. Maybe....

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!


  1. I love the idea of animal restoration, but I question the economic end of it. I would say most states are having to budget pretty tight these days, and I'm not certain animal restoration is necessarily an important project to be working on. Although the animals might have originally roamed the land long ago, there are reasons they no longer do. Not to mention, there is no guarantee these animals will thrive. This could simply be a big chunk of wasteful spending.

    If a private organization took on the task and provided much of the funding to accomplish it, I could see where restoration would be worthwhile. The National Wild Turkey Federation, for example, have done tremendous amounts of work across the United States and have successfully brought back the various species of Wild Turkey. Without the support of a private organization, however, the whole project could flop and the state is out a lot of money.

  2. I love the idea of restoring Elk into southwestern Virginia. It would bring about many more hunting opportunities to the state. It would also bring about opportunities for outfitters and buisnesses. I think hunters need to realize that if elk restoration does begin here its gonna take many years to show its success, its a slow process. Hunters also need to realize that the hunting opportunities are going to be very limited once the population does start to grow. I wouldnt be suprised if Virginia residents could only harvest one bull every three or four years. It does not sound great to hear but it is a necessary management tool to let the younger bulls grow and the cows multiply.
    With cooperation from virginia hunters and non hunters this could be big for the state as a whole.

    P.S.- The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has alot to do with Elk restoration efforts in virginia, so join it. Also if your for elk restoration take the time to write a letter and send it to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. One letter may not make a difference but a few thousand definatly will so do your part as an outdoorsman.

    God bless you all and good luck this season.