An exciting announcement came at the end of June as the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced that it had confirmed the first elk calf born in the state in about 150 years.
While wildlife officials were fairly confident that another calf might be roaming the area as well, they never expected to get the same level of proof as they had with the first.
Within hours, more photographic evidence was gathered, once again, from a well-placed trail camera. This time the image depicted not one, but two elk calves in the area, confirming the second calf born in the Mountain State in 2017.
“We have two calves on the ground actually,” the state’s Elk Project Leader Randy Kelly told WV Metro News. “We got another picture later that same night of two calves together.”
While Kelly and his team are of the belief that two other cows might have been bred, he is confident this second sighting will end the 2017 calving season in the newly-introduced herd.
“We had two more that had tested positive in the pregnancy test at LBL,” he said. “But I’ve seen those cows several times over the last month to month and a half, and just by looks and body shape, I really don’t think they were pregnant or if they were pregnant the stress of them being moved that early in the pregnancy created problems. If I was betting, I would bet this is going to probably be our reproduction for this year.”
Satisfaction comes in the form of reproducing females, especially in reintroduction efforts which kicked off just over a year ago. With the breeding success already established, Kelly and his team are eager to get additional elk on the ground in West Virginia but are still in talks with other states to arrange future deliveries.
“We know bringing in those few we brought in is not going to build a herd completely,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to bring some more adults in. I’m not relying on those ten cows to start the whole population.”