Ten years after the successful restoration of elk to their historic Virginia range, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is accepting applications for its first elk hunting season through March 30, 2022.
"Instituting the first-ever managed elk hunt a mere decade after restoration is an indicator that the state’s elk herd is growing, sustainable and healthy. In short, it marks a conservation milestone for Virginia," said Mark Baker, RMEF board of directors chair. "We salute and congratulate DWR on successfully executing its elk management plan, and for establishing a hunt that will generate significant funding to ensure the future of elk in Virginia."
In addition to providing both funding and volunteer support that led to Virginia’s initial elk restoration in 2012, RMEF also contributed to successful restorations in Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Dating to 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 1,299 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in the above-mentioned states that conserved 146,467 acres of elk habitat.
"As in the past, we remain committed as an organization going forward to working alongside our state agency partners in supporting and growing elk populations throughout the East and across the country including here in my home state of Virginia," said Todd Walker, RMEF board member from McLean.
A brief synopsis of the current status of elk in each state and its restoration year follows:
Kentucky (1997)—10,000+ elk, largest population east of the Mississippi River, first hunting season in 2001, 594 tags available in 2022; Missouri (2011)--200+ elk, first hunting season in 2020, 5 tags available in 2022.
North Carolina (2001) —200+ elk, no hunting season; Tennessee (1997)—400+ elk, first hunting season in 2009, 15 tags available in 2022; Virginia (2012)—250+ elk, first hunting season in 2022, 5 tags available in 2022; West Virginia (2016)—80+ elk, no hunting season; Wisconsin (1995)— 390+ elk, first hunting season in 2018, TBD tags available in 2022 (8 in 2021).
There are currently wild, free-ranging elk in 28 different states. Aside from those listed above, the others are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
RMEF collaborates with state wildlife agencies to ensure the future of its elk population. Founded more than 37 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage.