The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

Welcoming the wild, wonderful West Virginia wapiti


A long time ago, right where I am standing in what is now southwestern West Virginia, Logan County, there were herds of wapiti. (WAH-PA-TI) We are told that is what the Shawnee Indians called them; we call them elk. The wapiti have been gone for a long time, but now they are back.

Randy Kelley is a Wildlife Biologist with the West Virginia Division of Resources (WVDNR) and he basically lives with the elk. Randy has been the Elk Project Leader since it started in 2015, and he has seen a lot happen. In 2016 the WVDNR received 24 elk from the Land Between the Lakes area (LBL) in western Kentucky, 12 females (cows), and 12 bulls, the males. These elk were released on to the Earl Ray Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County, an area of over 25,000 acres.

In 2018 WVNDR staff and Arizona wildlife biologists undertook a huge task and captured 60 wild elk, 50 cows and 10 bulls, and transported them back to the Mountain State. Anyone who has ever dealt with the capture and transportation of large wild animals knows this was no walk in the park. This involved helicopters, guns that fire nets, and a lot of wrestling with large animals that know how use their hooves.

The entire article from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph can be found here -