Elk were once native to Virginia. Elkhorn Lake in Augusta County is a reminder of their past presence and the Elk River in neighboring West Virginia is a tribute to the great animals. A few years back, Virginia decided to join in with Kentucky to bring elk back to our region.
How are they doing? In a word. Spectacularly!
According to the Game Department, since restoration efforts began, Virginia’s Elk have been thriving. DGIF Biologists estimate the total number of elk in Virginia to be between 150 to 200 animals. The Virginia bulls are growing impressive antlers and are now “bugling” to assert their dominance, and to impress their harems. The sound of the elk bugle is one of the most unique sounds in nature. These magnificent animals provide a great viewing opportunity. Elk cows can weigh up to 600-lbs. and bulls can grow to a whopping 700-lbs.
Elk viewing opportunities are available via bus tours offered by Breaks Interstate Park until November 19th. Another public viewing opportunity exists at Poplar Gap Park in Buchanan County where Elk are often seen around dusk.
If you go, take some binoculars and a camera to capture photos. If elk are bugling, you may want to try to record a video of their unique call.