In a true conservation milestone, an elk calf was born in West Virginia for the first time in roughly 150 years. Reintroduced into the Mountain State in December 2016, this is the first confirmed calf to have been born in West Virginia and is a promising sign for the species’ reintroduction into their former eastern range.
“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.”
Confirmed last week by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources when the calf was caught on a trail camera that was set up to monitor a pregnant cow that had been separated from the herd. When elk were reintroduced in 2016, of the 24 animals brought into the state, six of them were pregnant but two were reported to have died soon after release.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officials are still optimistic that there might be another calf in the wild already or one soon to be dropped.
“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.”
In an attempt to preserve the animals, DNR officials have no plans of capturing or tagging the calf until it reaches maturity. Until then, the department will continue to monitor the calf as best they can by using non-invasive techniques such as remote cameras.
“We try not to stress the elk in any way,” Kelley said. “We don’t want to take a chance and injure the animal.”