Southwest Virginia’s elk herd doing well

October 08, 2013 at 02:26 PM

VANSANT, Va. (AP) — Southwest Virginia's elk herd is doing well and attracting visitors who want to see the animals.

The state has brought elk from Kentucky to a reclaimed strip mine in Buchanan County as part of a pilot project aimed at returning the animals to Virginia. A herd of 10 were brought over in May, and another 50 are planned to be brought to Virginia next spring.

Leon Boyd with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's local chapter says 10 calves were born this year. That brings the herd's total to 44 elk.

"The cows are doing excellent," Boyd told the Bristol Herald Courier (, adding that there has been a 100 percent survival rate among the animals.

He said hundreds of people have been taken up to see the elk since the mating season started Sept. 1. Part of the goal of the foundation is to increase exposure to the animals, which used to roam freely in Virginia forests, and to use them to boost tourism. Eventually, a few hunting licenses will be issued annually.

"Interest has picked up in the last three weeks," Boyd said. "People get to enjoy watching them and see how the calves stay together."

The elk are the Rocky Mountain version of a native species that was last seen in Virginia around the time of the Civil War.


Information from: Bristol Herald Courier,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.