Case: Return of elk to West Virginia is exciting to see

Photo contributed by Larry Case / The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources is more than five years into a project that has returned elk to the Mountain State for the first time in nearly a century and a half.

A long time ago, in what is now southwestern West Virginia and Logan County, there were herds of wapiti (WAH-PA-TEE). We are told that is what the Shawnee Indians called them; we call them elk. The wapiti have been gone for a long time, but now they are back.

Randy Kelley is a wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and he basically lives with the elk. He has been the leader of the state's elk project since it started in 2015, and he has seen a lot happen.

In 2016, the WVDNR received 24 elk from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky: 12 cows (females) and 12 bulls (males). These elk were released into the Earl Ray Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County, a WMA covering more than 25,000 acres.