Project Leader Experiences Ups and Downs of West Virginia Elk Herd

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Randy Kelley is tasked with keeping an eye on West Virginia’s relatively new elk herd. Through it all, he’s experienced some highs and some lows.

Among the lows was getting a report from a deer hunter that a cow elk seemed to be ailing as it walked in circles. It eventually collapsed and died.

“We’re waiting for the results now, but we think it’s our first case of brainworm,” Kelley, who serves as elk project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

A different incident resulted in a much happier conclusion. A biologist monitoring elk wearing radio collars noticed a strange, circular movement by a young bull. It turns out the animal had some landscape fabric attached to its antler and managed to tightly wrap itself around a tree. Kelley got the help of a couple of friends tranquilized and freed the animal.

(Photo source: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources)