Final Elk Move Scheduled For This Week - WSET.com - ABC13

Final Elk Move Scheduled For This Week

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Marion, VA - The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is in the middle of a massive moving job that will bring the final 45 elk through a re-population program.

In 2012 as the new Virginia elk herd was just getting its legs the concern was the giant animals would destroy farmland for miles - a concern so far not realized.

"There are not a lot of farms. Some of the elk have gone away as far as ten miles and returned. But they have traveled that far." "They are sticking there. They have a herd and they are reproducing," said VDGIF Project Manager, Allen Boynton.

Fast forward to 2014 and the final 45 elk are in the process of being rounded up in Kentucky, penned and moved later this week to some reclaimed coal fields in Buchanan County.

The release is the final stage of the move that will put the Virginia herd, after this year's calving season, at around 100 animals.

"They are cleared to enter the state so we're going to move them over to Buchanan County. We'll move them in livestock trailers," said Boynton.

The mission of the program is three-fold including the nostalgia-factor involved in bringing back an animal Virginians used to rely on through the middle 19th century.

The other goals involve tourism through both recreation and eventually hunting... to an area in Virginia struggling to find a new identity following the slow down of the coal industry.

"Not long before I spoke with you I got a call from a guy from Lynchburg who wants to bring his two sons up to watch. So they are fun to watch and so people will travel to do that. Not only go a couple of hours but go a whole day," said Boynton.

The elk have about 1,250 square miles of area to use as the base for their herd that experts would like to see reach 400.

There are no plans to increase the range of Virginia's elk herd past Buchanan, Wise and Dickenson Counties.

The elk will be moved into Virginia Thursday night with a release date within the following week.

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