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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Elk in Virginia

  1. When and where can I legally harvest an elk?
    • Elk hunting is prohibited year-round in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise Counties. In the remainder of Virginia, elk may be harvested during the deer hunting season with a deer tag. Please see the Elk Hunting section for more details.
  2. A nuisance elk has caused substantial damage to my property. Will the State of Virginia reimburse me?
  3. Can I kill a nuisance elk causing damage to my property?
    • Outside of harvest season, elk or deer may only be killed under authority of a Kill Permit issued by the Department. Please see the Nuisance Elk section for more details.
  4. I found a shed elk antler, can I keep it?
    • Yes. If you have found an entire skeleton please call 804-367-0044.
  5. Is it okay to collect shed antlers on DWR lands?
    • Yes, if the person has in their possession a valid hunting or fishing license or a daily or annual Access Permit available from the DWR website (available here) or at license agents located across the Commonwealth.
  6. Should I call the hotline to report seeing elk roaming around
    • No, take pictures and enjoy, but please only use the hotline for elk deaths.
  7. I found an elk that appears to be sick and/or injured, what should I do?
    • Please keep your distance from any sick or injured wildlife. Report injured or sick elk to the Marion Regional Office. Please be aware that response times depend on staff availability. Response may be delayed on weekends or during holidays.
  8. How far across the State will elk spread?
    • We expect elk to remain localized in southwest Virginia.
  9. When will opportunities for elk hunting begin?
    • Elk hunting will begin when the herd has grown large enough to sustain harvest and will entirely be based on herd size, past herd growth rate, and projected growth rate.
  10. Do those collars and eartags shown in the pictures cause any difficulty for the elk?
    • No, radio collars and eartags have been used with large mammals for decades and research has shown that, if used properly, their impact on wildlife health and behavior is usually negligible.
  11. How long do the collars stay on?
    • Collars can be remotely signaled to fall off as their batteries wear down. Each collar can potentially last for several years.
  12. Where did the funding for elk restoration come from?
    • All funding for restoration efforts came from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, hunting license sales, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Wildlife and Sport Restoration Program from excise taxes on certain sporting goods such as firearms, ammunition, and other hunting gear.
  13. Are there concerns about elk spreading disease to livestock?
    • Any animal, domestic or not, may carry disease. Elk brought to Virginia were examined and tested for disease prior to being released. Elk were held in quarantine before leaving Kentucky in addition to being held in an acclimation pen in Virginia before their release. The Department works to investigate reported elk mortality in Virginia to determine cause of death and to collect samples for disease surveillance.
      Please see the “Elk Herd Health” section for more details.