Elk are prospering and elk habitat is both expanding and improving thanks to a collaborative, team approach by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other partners. RMEF provided funding and volunteer manpower to help return elk to their historic West Virginia range in late 2016.
DNR worked with the Conservation Fund and other partners to purchase reclaimed mine land now known as the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, where the animals roam across 44,000 acres.
“In most other states where reintroductions have taken place, there were big chunks of public land to move the elk onto,” Blake Henning, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chief conservation officer, told the West Virginia Gazette-Mail. “I’m not sure we’ve seen the kind of work West Virginia did, to secure elk land and elk habitat, take place anywhere else in the country. They showed great vision to do that.”
RMEF also provided financial backing for elk reintroductions from Arizona and Kentucky as well as additional funding for the DNR to recently launch a series of habitat enhancement work that benefits elk and all kinds of other wildlife. Such projects include noxious weed treatment, prescribed burning, planting forage and creating wildlife water sources.
“Our members are excited,” Brian Satterfield, chair of the West Virginia Chapter, told West Virginia Gazette-Mail. “We recently had a banquet in Elkins, and when I told them how many elk we had on the ground, counting the newborn calves, the place went crazy. were cheering, clapping, really happy. It’s a testament to the good work the DNR and the Elk Foundation have been able to accomplish together.”
(Photo source: West Virginia Department of Natural Resources)