Virginia to Restore Elk; RMEF Pledges Support

MISSOULA, Mont.–The board of directors of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has voted to restore a wild elk herd in part of the state, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has responded by pledging support for the effort. Possibilities could include RMEF funding assistance, technical expertise and/or volunteer labor.

The state’s restoration plan calls for relocating 75 elk into Buchanan County in southwest Virginia. Releases could begin by 2012. Biologists are hoping for a sustainable elk population and a limited elk-hunting season within four years. County officials are expecting significant economic and tourism benefits similar to those in neighboring Kentucky, which launched its own restoration program over a decade ago and now boasts the largest elk herd east of the Rockies.

At an agency meeting on Aug. 17, RMEF volunteers and staff spoke passionately in favor of elk restoration, although several other organizations were opposed. The board voted unanimously to restore elk into Buchanan County, which strongly supported the concept.

“Hats off to the citizens of Virginia, and especially those of Buchanan County, who understand there is no higher calling in conservation than restoring a native game species to sustainable, hunt-able, balanced populations. For everyone who doesn’t understand it today, I believe you’ll be convinced over time that this was the right decision, the right thing to do, the right way to go about it,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

To be a part of this historic conservation effort in Virginia, join and support RMEF. Visit www.rmef.org and click “Attend an Event” to find fundraisers planned across the state. For additional information, call 800-CALL ELK or contact Chris Croy, RMEF regional director for Virginia, at 704-551-6223 or ccroy@rmef.org.

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