CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia wildlife officials say 60 elk coming to the state from Arizona will be captured in January.
Division of Natural Resources wildlife chief Paul Johansen told The Gazette-Mail that a private company will capture the animals in Arizona over a 3-day period in late January and state workers will tag and microchip them and take blood samples.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission approved the capture and transport as part of West Virginia’s ongoing elk restoration project.
West Virginia elk project leader Randy Kelley said after the animals are captured, they will be held in quarantine for 30 days in Arizona, and then put on trucks for transport to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County, West Virginia.
Kelley said he was a little surprised when he was told capturing the elk would take only three days.
“I figured it would take about a week, but the company that will be doing the work is apparently really good at it,” he added. “The Arizona folks said they were able to capture about 20 a day when they were helping Kentucky with their elk reintroduction project.”
Kelley said he’ll take a handful of workers who have experience with the large animals, which can weigh up to 700 pounds.
“If (the contractor is) able to capture the animals that fast, we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” he said. “That means we’ll be working up two to three of them every hour.”
He said Division of Natural Resources hopes to be able to release the animals in West Virginia in March. They will join nearly two dozen elk received in 2016.