Elk in Virginia: Return of a Native Species

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Formerly the location of a strip mine operation, XX acres of restored grasslands were created to provide attractive sanctuaries for various wildlife, especially elk, by providing the food resources they need to thrive.

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Between 2012 and 2014, a total of 71 elk were relocated into Buchanan County, Virginia, from southeast Kentucky, plus four additional calves born in quarantine. By September 2015, Virginia’s restored elk herd was estimated at 120 individuals.

The History of Virginia's Elk

Elk were historically found throughout eastern North America, including Virginia. However, by the late 1800s, unsustainable hunting and habitat alteration resulted in the extinction of the eastern elk. The last survivor of Virginia’s original elk herd was killed in 1855 in Clarke County.

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How to See Elk in Virginia

Nestled among the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau in Buchanan County, an elk viewing area with three wildlife viewing stations overlooks nearly 400 yards of restored grassland habitat, surrounded by woodland edges.

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Elk Cam

For those who cannot travel to the far reaches of Virginia, DGIF has worked with sponsors to establish a live broadcast of some hotspots within the elk range.

Watch the Live Elk Cam

Protecting Virginia's Elk

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Virginia's Elk Management Plan

Since 2014, the elk population in Virginia has grown, and with this increase has come challenges and opportunities.

Learn How DGIF Is Managing Elk