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Arizona Elk Going To West Virginia For Restoration Project

By Stina Sieg
Published: Friday, August 11, 2017 - 5:05am
George Andrejko/AZGFD
Arizona's elk are descendants of ones that once roamed Yellowstone.

Early next year, 60 Arizona elk will start a new life in Appalachia. Wildlife officials hope the creatures will rebuild West Virginia’s long-depleted elk population.

Officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department will use a helicopter and net to the elk sometime in January or February. The creatures will then be tested, quarantined and eventually shipped more than 2,000 miles to West Virginia for an ongoing elk restoration project.

“West Virginia did historically have elk,” said Josh Avey, the terrestrial wildlife chief for Arizona game and fish. “They were extirpated from that area about 150 years ago, and so to be able to restore them back to their native area, it’s one of the greatest rewards for what we do.”

Avey said Arizona’s elk population was once destroyed, too, before elk from Yellowstone were brought in almost a century ago. Now, about 35,000 roam the state.