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Crowd turns out to support elk comeback in W.Va.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — It’s been more than a century since the last native elk was killed in West Virginia around 1875, and other than a private hunt club reintroduction of elk in the 1920s in Pocahontas County, the large cervids have not been seen in large numbers in the state since.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is conducting a series of meetings to gauge public interest in having elk returned to the state on large, privately held tracts of land in southern West Virginia. One of those meetings was Thursday night at Chief Logan State Park, where the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Section chief described the attendance and response of the crowd as outstanding.

Curtis Taylor told The Register-Herald Friday that roughly 175 people showed up and were overwhelmingly in favor of reintroducing elk to the region. Taylor said 15 counties were represented in the crowd.

“We want to hold meetings where the largest group of people will be impacted,” Taylor said, noting that the next meeting will be in Justice on the Mingo-Wyoming county border. “These are not going to be captive elk.”

Taylor said he could not define the amount of land that would be necessary for the elk herd to roam, nor can he put a number on the elk to be reintroduced. He said the animals need a large amount of land because they can roam up to 20 miles a day…

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