HOLDEN, W.Va. — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the arrival of two dozen elk near the border of Logan and Mingo counties December 19.
Tomblin noted the elk’s reintroduction marks the first time West Virginia has had a wild elk population in around 140 years.
Dozens of citizens braved near freezing temperatures to see the elk at ceremony held at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area on Gaston Caperton Drive near Holden.
The area where the elk are being held is situated on land formerly used for mining.
The 24 elk, which were gifted from Kentucky, will be set loose on the southern West Virginia wilderness in less than a week; however, it will reportedly be at least 10 years or more before any hunting of the elk could be conducted.
Officials from the Division of Natural Resources explained the herd is still acclimating to the area and they are currently being fed a high quality diet to help ensure their survival.
Horns from the 12 bull elk have been removed for safer transportation as well as for reduction in any possible poaching.
Kentucky introduced 7 elk into their coalfield counties in 1995.
If they are needed, more additions to the initial herd will be made.
The current herd is made up of 12 bulls (males) and 12 cows (females).
Tomblin noted some of the now West Virginian elk cows are already whelping.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]