Here’s a question: Who pays for restoring native wildlife populations to their historic range?
The answer? Hunters!
The last wild, free-ranging elk disappeared in West Virginia in about 1875.
130 years later, the state launched two studies, paid for by the hunter-based Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, to determine whether elk restoration was feasible and to determine social tolerance.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources or D-N-R reviewed the results and made the decision to go forward.
Beginning in 2015, the state worked with RMEF, The Conservation Fund and others via land purchases, permanent access easements and land leases to create more than 44,000 acres for elk to roam in the far southwest corner of the state.
The price tag for that largest single land acquisition and public access effort in DNR history was $15.6 million.
But where did the money come from?
RMEF committed nearly $300,000 but nearly half of that multi-million dollar total came from excise taxes on guns, ammunition and archery gear.
Hunters willingly agreed to the creation of that excise tax in 1937 that since generated more than $14 billion for conservation and wildlife management.
But it doesn’t stop there.
RMEF’s Virginia Chapter and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources donated used holding pen construction materials from its successful elk restoration effort four years earlier.
And once again, RMEF volunteers were on hand to help build it.
Beginning in 2016, the DNR trapped and transported elk from Kentucky and Arizona.
The bulk of the $242,000 cost for transportation, holding and testing came from excise taxes generated by hunters combined with state license dollars.
Today, the Mountain State has approximately 85 elk back on their historic West Virginia range.
And the herd is growing with a DNR goal of eventually holding annual elk hunting seasons that will generate significant funding to benefit West Virginia elk and elk habitat.
Generating vital funding to benefit conservation and wildlife management…
Restoring wild elk herds and giving of their time, dollars and sweat equity all highlight how Hunting Is Conservation.