Virginia now has a special license to hunt elk. A bill signed into law earlier in 2020 officially took effect on July 1 that established an elk tag. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has a goal to institute a hunt when the herd numbers 400. Currently, there are approximately 250 elk in Virginia.
The bill swept through the 2020 legislative session like a tidal wave. The House approved it in January by a vote of 97-0 followed by a 38-0 Senate vote in February. Governor Ralph Northam signed it into law in March.
The law authorizes the DGIF Board to establish quotas and procedures for a special license in the elk management zone of Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise Counties. Details include a nonrefundable application fee of $15 for residents and $20 for nonresidents and a special elk license fee at no more than $40 for residents and $400 for nonresidents as well as additional details. It also clarifies a separate special license to hunt elk is not required to hunt elk outside of the designated elk management zone.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided public comment in favor of the special elk license. Historically, RMEF provided funding and volunteer manpower to assist with the successful restoration of elk onto their historic Virginia range in 2014.
Since 1993, RMEF and its partners completed 79 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Virginia with a combined value of more than $1.9 million. These projects protected or enhanced 1,319 acres of habitat.
(Photo source: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)