Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

W.Va.’s elk dilemma

West Virginia’s wildlife officials aren’t especially happy to have elk roaming the state’s southern mountains, but they’ll manage the animals anyway.

Curtis Taylor, the Division of Natural Resources’ wildlife chief, said DNR biologists will gather soon to decide how best to manage any elk that currently reside within the state’s borders.

Those would include the mysterious Logan County herd that materialized, seemingly from thin air, in December 2006 between Man and Logan. Those animals were last seen in the Blair Mountain area and appear to be keeping a low profile. Individual elk have been spotted in Mingo and Wayne counties.

“Even if we don’t already have elk here, we’re going to get them as the population in eastern Kentucky increases and those animals spread out,” Taylor said.

Kentucky now boasts a population of more than 6,000 elk, the result of an aggressive stocking program begun in 1997. Most of Kentucky’s elk live in counties adjacent to West Virginia.

“They’ll eventually move here, and we’re going to have to be ready to manage them when they do,” Taylor said.