VA. Elk and RMEF and others

brownbear932008

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I have taken a few trips down the road 45 minutes the last few weeks to check out Virginia's elk herd. I haven't been able to visit the restoration area until now. Don't ask why I have no idea myself. The RMEF and VDGIF and lots of volunteers have done wonderful things in VA.
I absolutely could not believe all the work that has been completed the last few years. I think our herd numbers around 300 animals in a 3 county area that also borders elk restoration areas in WV and of coarse the KY herd. The elk sightings have been tough and please excuse the fuzzy elk photos they were some distance away and my equipment isn't top notch. I did manage to see one very nice 6 point this morning just after daylight. He was hitting the brush already to beat the heat for the day. I have seen photos of giants last year. So in Sept I hope to get out and enjoy the rut fest.
It's great to see our money being spent in such great ways when we support these agencies and organizations. I can't say enough how awesome it was to see my first VA elk. Something I would have never imagined seeing in the Virginia mountains. We may not have the rockies but we have some pretty darn spectacular country also here in the Appalachians.
 

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brownbear932008

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There are also a lot of other wildlife flourishing because of the habitat projects in the elk restoration area. Lots of small game as well as deer and Turkey and other animals.
 

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brownbear932008

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Attached are some of the projects completed. They have 3 wildlife viewing stations and with the optics I can see tons of fruit or nut bearing trees planted in the area.
 

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LopeHunter

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This is a fantastic story about finding a way to bring back a native species to an area that has a lot of development that creates challenges finding the space needed for a herd to grow and thrive. Have they reported on how this might be impacting cougar and black bear density around these elk?
 

brownbear932008

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No known cougar populations in this area and the black bear population is pretty low also in this particular county just east of here populations rise quite a bit with the bear. But there are lots of deer and other foods that keep them happy. There are miles upon miles of habitat in SWVA to support the elk population without much human conflict. My last meeting in the spring with VDGIF they reported less than 10 elk related issues with human conflict mostly traffic accidents.
 

VAspeedgoat

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I think the human conflict issues is what tanked the reintroductions before. I think that is why they picked the area they did. Less ag, and a lower human pop has its advantages. Plus that area does not have the deer density much of the state has a either.

Curious, are elk an old growth forest animal or new growth like whitetails?
 

brownbear932008

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I think the human conflict issues is what tanked the reintroductions before. I think that is why they picked the area they did. Less ag, and a lower human pop has its advantages. Plus that area does not have the deer density much of the state has a either.

Curious, are elk an old growth forest animal or new growth like whitetails?
I'm definitely no pro or biologist but I'm gonna say they are similar to Whitetails but more of a grazing animal like cattle. I could see the old growth being good for acorns. The introduction area is a very large strip mine area that has been reclaimed years ago lots of grass up top and old growth in the lower elevations. These animals hit the old growth as soon as the sun came up for bedding. I did see one large 6 point making his way browsing through a logging cut that was several years old.
 

Karl

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Thats awesome! Thanks for sharing the photos and reminding me I need to get out there and go check it out as well! I live in northern VA, so it's not close, but it's also not the 27 hour drive I'm doing to hunt elk this year either!
 

brownbear932008

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Thats awesome! Thanks for sharing the photos and reminding me I need to get out there and go check it out as well! I live in northern VA, so it's not close, but it's also not the 27 hour drive I'm doing to hunt elk this year either!
Look up Southern Gap outdoors you can rent a small cabin right in the elks living room and enjoy the area.
 

brownbear932008

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I’ve got to get up there and check them out!
You do man I mean we are living/experiencing times not seen in our state. Pretty cool honestly I think just to see these animals in the east. I just wish we could somehow convince a larger program to be developed similar to KY's. Our state has more agriculture though so it will probably never happen. Seems we could have herds in several of the wma areas that are pretty big along with the adjoining national forest areas.
 

VAspeedgoat

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For the life of me I can't wrap my head around it being legal to shoot elk outside the three county area introduction area. I get we don't want any conflict but issuing a permit for those cases would make more sense that shooting them on a deer tag.
 

brownbear932008

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For the life of me I can't wrap my head around it being legal to shoot elk outside the three county area introduction area. I get we don't want any conflict but issuing a permit for those cases would make more sense that shooting them on a deer tag.
Yeah I agree one of this year's rule changes they had comments on the requirement of buying an elk tag. I wrote in favor of having one. I'm sure most didn't want it and still wanted to shoot one on a deer tag. If I remember correctly KY started with that same rule and then went to the out of zone tag. Very few at this point travel to surrounding counties but some have been taken or spotted on rare occasion. The county I live in has much better habitat but farmers don't want them here mostly we border the main restoration area.
 

VAOutdoors

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For the life of me I can't wrap my head around it being legal to shoot elk outside the three county area introduction area. I get we don't want any conflict but issuing a permit for those cases would make more sense that shooting them on a deer tag.
I know every state is different but here in Arkansas if there is an elk outside of the area that is the designated elk zone you can use your deer tag and take that elk. Not sure how often it happens but it is in the rule book.
 

Roughwater

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Thanks for sharing the pictures. I live in NC and think it is awesome that they have brought Elk back to the East. I'll be going to the Elkfest in Maggie Valley in Sept and will be camping near the original release site and will try to take some pics of Elk if I see any and post them. I'm not sure what the rules are for elk that wander outside the protected area. I do know a few years ago someone shot one on federal land and got caught. Not sure what they did with the guy but many Elk watchers were real upset.
 

Jwill

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For the life of me I can't wrap my head around it being legal to shoot elk outside the three county area introduction area. I get we don't want any conflict but issuing a permit for those cases would make more sense that shooting them on a deer tag.
I'm with you. We have the Farm Bureau to thank for that.
 

brownbear932008

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There have been several elk taken outside the elk zone. I know of 5-6 myself. I do wish they would expand the area a few more counties but that probably won't happen due to ag. I know a guy took a small bull just outside the zone last year and I know of at least two 5 points taken. Also had a friend that watched a small bull cow and calf all summer last year in an adjoining county. Pretty cool to see them here.
 
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