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Elk and bobwhite quail populations growing in West Virginia

Published: Sep. 20, 2020 at 8:46 PM EDT
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LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va (WTAP) -The first bobwhite quail chicks to be born in the Mountain State in 50 years were spotted by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources earlier this month.

It was just five months ago that state officials released 48 bobwhite quails from Texas into the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County.

The quail were once native to the Mountain State, but numbers declined due to habitat loss.

DNR workers are in their first year of a five year restoration project for the birds, hoping to bring them back to West Virginia.

After spotting at least two chicks, confirming that the birds are breeding here, officials are hopeful.

However, they say the winter months will be the true challenge for introducing the birds, as they don’t thrive as well in the cold.

“We know they can survive on our landscape, but the true test will come during the winter,” Logan Klinger, wildlife manager at Tomblin WMA, said. “The cold months are hard on these birds, but food and cover are plentiful and we’re confident they’ll be able to get into their covey to make it through the winter.”

Quails aren’t the only animals making a comeback in West Virginia. The elk population grew in 2020 too.

elk
elk(WVDNR)

Officials with the division of natural resources counted 15 new elk calves this year, bringing the state’s herd up to about 85.

Elk were once native to the mountain state, but were killed off by overhunting and loss of habitat.

State officials say repopulation is a slow process, but they think repopulating is going at a satisfying pace.

“Summer 2020 has been really good for the elk in southern West Virginia,” said Randy Kelley, elk project leader for the WVDNR. “Population growth is a slow process because elk only have one new calf per female, but the herd is growing at a rate I think we’ll be happy with over time.”

Like the quails, the elk herd is located in the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County.

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