Friday, January 11, 2013

Elk reintroduction comes with pros and cons, W.Va. columnist deduces from examples of other states

Elk once roamed freely in the Appalachians, but were extirpated as the human population increased. State agencies have been reintroducing elk in the region for several years, much as their counterparts in the Western U.S. have done for bison and wolves. Those programs have faced legal challenges and fights from local residents, for whom the animals are an intrusion, sometimes dangerous. (Hunting Life photo)

As West Virginia weighs the possibility of stocking its forests with elk, The Charleston Gazette's John McCoy considers the successes and failures of similar programs in bordering states. Some hunters want the state's Division of Natural Resources to start introducing elk, but opponents are concerned that "reintroducing such large animals might cause unforeseen impacts," McCoy reports.

He notes that a poll in Western Maryland found 68 percent of those polled supported reintroduction of elk, but "Citizens of Eastern Kentucky have quite literally taken up arms to thin out an elk herd that's making their lives miserable." Since only bears and humans are able to kill elk, the population has exploded since its 1997 reintroduction. Elk have for years come down from the mountains, causing property damage, so the state authorized a special hunt. Still, elk viewing and hunting have been an economic boons for an economically depressed area where coal mines are closing. (Read more)

No comments: