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Virginia Elk Restoration

An image of an adult elk wearing a GPS collar which allows VDGIF staff to track their movements.

Above: GPS/radio collars help VDWR staff keep track of elk movements.


Between 2012 and 2014, a total of 71 elk were relocated into Buchanan County, Virginia, from southeast Kentucky, plus 4 additional calves born in quarantine. By September 2015, Virginia’s restored elk herd was estimated at 120 individuals. Since their release, the elk have largely stayed close to the release site. During aerial surveys completed in 2014, two herds of non-translocated elk were seen in Wise County (a herd of twelve and a herd of four). These elk were likely natural immigrants from Kentucky. Elk that are not part of the restoration effort have also been spotted in Wise, Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Lee, Tazewell, Bland, Scott, and Washington counties. The VDWR is currently developing a new Elk Management Plan to guide management actions related to the growing elk herd.

Check back for updates!

For Dead Elk – Please Call (804) 367-0044

When to call: To report any dead elk killed by a hunter, vehicular accident, or unknown cause(s). This number is NOT for checking elk or other game but is for scheduling the collection of biological samples.

When calling: please leave your name, your contact info (phone number(s) where you can be reached), location of the elk, manner of death (if known), and the date.

Elk in Virginia

Elk Hunting

Where are Elk Found in Virginia?

Elk have been seen periodically wandering into Virginia from Kentucky since the 1990s, with counties on the border reporting occasional sightings. Virginia’s own restoration efforts have resulted in an elk herd currently found mostly in Buchanan County.

Nuisance Elk

Elk are like other large mammals in that they can cause damage to property or even injure people.

Elk Herd Health

All elk were quarantined in Kentucky and tested for a variety of diseases prior to being moved to Virginia. VDWR is continuing to monitor herd health. For more information on elk health exams prior to translocation, or for more information on ongoing monitoring, please check out the following links:

Elk Population Monitoring and Research

Feeding Elk

Elk Viewing/Tourism

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Elk in Virginia