It’s part of an experiment that started two years ago.
Now there’s no doubt about efforts to successfully reintroduce elk in West Virginia.
And the thriving program means 60 more elk are coming here from Arizona.
A private company will capture the animals over a three-day period later this month, State Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Chief Paul Johansen told the Gazette Mail Newspaper.
Arizona wildlife officials approved the request as part of West Virginia’s Elk Reintroduction program.
Former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and a large crowd were on hand in Logan County in late December 2016 to see the first 24 animals brought to the state.
They were reintroduced at a former mountaintop mining site, and have since been free to wander the countryside.
These original animals came via Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
Elk were a native wildlife species, but disappeared over time.
Many landmarks (mountains, streams and communities) still reflect this heritage and are named after elk.
Historians and game biologists say it’s been 137 years since the last native elk was spotted in West Virginia in 1873, according to the DNR.
That sighting was on the headwaters of the Cheat River in 1873.
They vanished partially due to being over hunted, coupled with the destruction of mountain habitats.
The future is looking much brighter.
Initial efforts to restore the species have been successful, including the birth of an elk calf last summer.
It was born at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County
Legislators first approved the proposal in 2015, but it wasn’t a new idea.
DNR officials had previously studied the idea several times, and coalfield residents backed the idea in recent years.
Two release sites were initially discussed, the Mingo/Logan County area and another in the Wyoming/McDowell County area.
State officials say it could take at least four to five years before the population is reestablished.