Elk NetworkCollaring Effort Benefits West Virginia Elk Herd

General | February 19, 2021

It is a busy time for biologists in West Virginia. Their goal is to place 17 GPS collars on elk.

“By putting collars out there and by monitoring individual elk on a day-to-day basis, we can keep track of where the animals are and have an idea of what they’re doing,” Randy Kelley, elk project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Biologists bait sites and monitor the area with cameras to find locations most used by elk. Once on site, they dart an elk with a tranquilizer gun and then administer a brief health test including a shot to ward off brainworm. The animal may also get an ear tag to help trace its genetics.

The overall goal is to acquire data that allows biologists, understand their behavior, monitor their habitat use and better manage the elk population.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding and volunteer support in 2016 to assist with the successful introduction of elk onto their historic West Virginia range.

(Photo credit:  Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)