First Elk Calf Born in WV Since Reintroduction of Elk

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

LOGAN, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced on Thursday the birth of an elk calf at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area. This is the first elk to be born in West Virginia since elk were reintroduced to the Mountain State in December 2016.

The birth was confirmed Thursday morning when the calf was caught passing by a camera DNR officials set up in recent weeks to monitor movement of a pregnant cow separated from the rest of the herd.

“The birth of this calf is significant because it very well may be the first elk born in West Virginia in 150 years,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “For our elk population to be sustainable, there has to be reproduction, and this calf is the first of many to be born here in West Virginia.”

Of the 24 elk brought to West Virginia in 2016, six were pregnant, though two died soon after release. DNR officials believe at least one other cow is currently pregnant. The gestation period for elk lasts between 240 and 260 days.

“We’re pretty sure we’ll find another calf out there soon,” said Randy Kelley, project leader for the elk restoration project. “We’ll continue to monitor the herd and find out in the coming days.”

Kelley said there are no plans to capture and tag the newborn calf until it is older. Until then, it will be monitored by using cameras through the WMA and collecting data from its mother’s radio collar and tags, which track location and movement.

“We try not to stress the elk in any way,” Kelley said. “We don’t want to take a chance and injure the animal.”

Elk were once native to West Virginia. Legislation in 2015 authorized the Division of Natural Resources to begin an active elk restoration plan. The Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and McDowell counties includes 9,000 acres of land for elk restoration. Adjacent lands also have been purchased for the elk restoration area.

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