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Due to exceptionally dry conditions, the Department of Wildlife Resources has implemented a complete ban on any open burning (e.g., campfires, grills) on all DWR properties west of Interstate 95, effective immediately and lasting until further notice.

The History of Elk in Virginia

Elk in Virginia: Pre-1600s

Elk occur throughout Virginia (mainly west of the Blue Ridge Mountains)

Elk in Virginia: 1700s–1800s

Virginia and U.S. human populations grow, resulting in over-harvesting of elk.

Elk in Virginia: 1855

Colonel G. Tuley harvests the last known elk in Virginia.

Late 1800s
Elk in Virginia: Late 1800s

Elk are almost completely extirpated in the eastern United States.

Elk in Virginia: 1917

140–150 elk are released in Virginia (nine counties west of the Blue Ridge and two east of the Blue Ridge) by the Virginia Game Commission.

Elk in Virginia: 1922

An additional 43 elk are released in Giles and Botetourt Counties. A bull elk season is implemented.

Elk in Virginia: 1926

Poor habitat, poor release locations, and over-harvest result in only two elk herds remaining (one in Giles/Bland County and one in Botetourt County).

Elk in Virginia: 1958

Elk hunting activity/participation peaks in Virginia (1500 hunters)

Elk in Virginia: 1960

The last regulated elk season occurs (Giles, Bland, Botetourt, and Bedford Counties).

Elk in Virginia: 1997

Over a five-year period, Kentucky restores over 1500 elk in to the eastern counties of the state.

Elk in Virginia: 2000

To suppress elk establishment in Virginia, DGIF authorizes the harvest of elk using a deer license. Elk harvested in Buchanan County.

Elk in Virginia: 2000

DGIF works with Virginia Tech to conduct a feasibility study for elk restoration in Virginia.

Elk in Virginia: 2010

DGIF Board directs staff to pursue a plan to restore 75 elk in Buchanan County and elk harvest was prohibited within the Elk Restoration Zone (Wise, Dickenson & Buchanan Counties).

Elk in Virginia: 2012–2014

71 total elk are captured in Kentucky and released in Buchanan County. (16 in 2012, 10 in 2013, 45 in 2014) with an additional 4 calves born while in captivity.

Elk in Virginia: 2015

DGIF Board directs staff to create a 10-year Elk Management Plan.

Elk in Virginia: 2019

The Virginia Elk Management Plan is adopted by the DGIF Board.

Elk in Virginia: 2019

Legislation was passed that authorized DGIF to create an elk tag and create an elk harvest strategy within the Elk Management Zone (Wise, Dickenson, & Buchanan Counties).

Elk in Virginia: 2020

The Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR, formerly DGIF) estimates the elk herd at 250+ in Virginia.