West Virginia Elk Calf Crop Lower than Expected

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It’s elk calf season in West Virginia but there apparently aren’t as many newborns hitting the ground as expected. Preliminary counts indicate a minimum of 10 to 15 cow elk gave birth but determining an exact number is difficult.

“There’s no way to know for sure,” Randy Kelley, elk project leader for West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “Elk cows hide their calves. Through July and sometimes even up into August, we might see a cow by herself and think she didn’t have a calf. Then later she’ll show up with one.”

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the stress of being required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hold 50 elk captured in Arizona and transported to West Virginia in a holding pen an additional 90 days may have caused some cow elk to abort. Also, the handling of the wild elk during a required second round of USDA disease testing during the heat of May led to the deaths of calves and some cow elk alike.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding and volunteer manpower to assist with the West Virginia elk reintroduction effort.

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