CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s fledgling elk herd will get another boost from a recreation area in Kentucky.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and Mingo counties will receive 17 elk from Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.
“This is great news for all West Virginians as we continue to restore this magnificent native species to our state,” Gov. Jim Justice said in making the announcement Friday.
Paul Johansen, wildlife chief for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said the arrangement has been in the works for about two months.
“The folks at (Land Between the Lakes) reached out and notified us that they had some surplus animals they were seeking a home for,” he said. “Of course we were interested.”
The natural resources division will pay the U.S. Forest Service $500 for each elk, he said.
DNR officials will travel to western Kentucky in early February to help with the processing.
The 17 elk earmarked for West Virginia will be radio-collared, implanted with microchips, tested for diseases and quarantined for 30 days while the test results are analyzed. At the end of the quarantine period, DNR workers will transport the animals to West Virginia.
Johansen said the DNR is particularly interested in getting a few more breeding-age cows to more rapidly expand the state’s elk population.
A previous shipment from Land Between the Lakes consisted of 12 cows and 12 bulls, which were released in late 2016. Of those 12 cows, three were pregnant and bore calves in June 2017.
The DNR also has an arrangement in place to receive 70 elk from Arizona. DNR personnel will travel there on Jan. 21 to assist with the capture and processing of those animals. Agency officials expect the Arizona animals to be shipped to West Virginia early this spring.