BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Did you know there is a herd of more than 250 elk roaming the Appalachian Mountain range in Southwest Virginia? You can watch them live throughout the fall on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) Elk Cam.
According to the DWR, elk were historically found throughout the eastern U.S., including Virginia, but by the late 1800s, unsustainable hunting practices and the destruction of their habitats resulted in the extinction of the eastern elk.
The last survivor of Virginia’s original elk herd was killed in 1855 in Clarke County, the department said.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources said 71 adult elk and 4 calves from Kentucky were first successfully re-introduced to the Commonwealth between 2012 and 2014, after which populations have thrived and expanded to the hundreds we see today.
Most of the state’s elk can be found close to Buchanan County in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where the DWR Elk Cam is located. The live camera is focused on a field frequented by the elk, oftentimes early in the morning and in the evening around dusk, according to the department.
As the weather cools, later in the fall, the elk are expected to be on camera more often and visible at other times of day.
In addition to grazing herds of elk, viewers may see wild turkey and other wildlife that find food and shelter throughout the field.
Anyone looking to view the elk in person can visit three viewing stations located on Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority property, near Poplar Gap Community Park.
Each station is built on a different area of the property, overlooking individual “viewing zones,” within about a one-mile proximity.