According to a press release by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, at least 15 elk were born over the summer.

The number of elk in the state is tracked as apart of the WVDNR’s elk restoration project. According to the release, elk were once native to West Virginia but disappeared as a result of timbering and overhunting in the 1800′s. After this summer, the elk population in the state is at least 85.

“Elk are really good at hiding their calves and sometimes it takes us the course of a summer to figure out how many we have, but we feel like the elk have had a good reproductive year and we hope to sustain that,” said Randy Kelley, elk project leader for the DNR.

This is the fifth year of the restoration project. Staff are focused on regrowing the population at Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County. DNR staff say that the wildlife viewing tours are a popular attraction at the Tomblin WMA and catching a glimpse of West Virginia elk could increase tourism to the area.

“Summer 2020 has been really good for the elk in southern West Virginia,” said Kelley. “Population growth is a slow process because elk only have one new calf per female, but the herd is growing at a rate I think we’ll be happy with over time.”