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How Virginia is Saving Elk Using Reclaimed Coal Fields

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Virginia may be the Commonwealth of Chaos politically-speaking, but our state is helping to lead the way on wildlife conservation as it relates to elk.

Can wildlife make a comeback with the help of private landowners, energy companies, non-government organizations, and state wildlife agencies? Are elk able to thrive on reclaimed coal fields? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding “YES.”

That’s what’s happening down in Southwest Virginia, which is largely dominated by coal.

In Episode 2 of my CFACT video series Conservation Nation, I interview Leon Boyd, a key figure in Virginia’s elk restoration efforts, on how coal field reclamation is instrumental for rehabilitation efforts. The Eastern elk, which went extinct in 1877 in Pennsylvania, was prevalent on the East Coast. Now, the Rocky Mountain variety is thriving in states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Since 2012, Leon and his team of volunteers have been actively working and partnering with landowners, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to bring back elk to the Old Dominion State. The Virginia herd has over 200 elk thriving today.

Amazing, isn’t it?

To learn more about elk restoration efforts in Virginia, watch my video report below:

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