By STEVE SZKOTAK (AP)
RICHMOND, Va. More than 150 years after Virginia’s last native elk was killed, game officials may try to populate the state’s southwest corner with its bigger, buff-colored cousin the Rocky Mountain elk.
They say bringing back an elk subspecies could offer hunters another big-game animal and boost tourism in rugged southwest Virginia, but farmers fear it also could infect their livestock with diseases and damage crops.
As it happens, some elk have already arrived.
An estimated 125 to 150 Rocky Mountain elk have wandered into Virginia from Kentucky, where a restoration effort is well under way. That state is now home to more than 11,000 of the animals spread over 16 southern and southeastern counties. They graze on the reclaimed remnants of strip mines and attract hunters and tourists who want to glimpse an elk or hear its haunting bugle.