Until the late 19th century, Virginia was home to the Eastern elk, but that subspecies was eventually wiped out by excessive hunting.
In recent years, efforts have been made to reintroduce elk to the eastern United States, by transplanting elk from western states. In 2012, the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries began establishing elk colonies in Virginia, beginning with members of a herd that had been successfully transplanted to Kentucky fifteen years earlier.
In the spring of 2014, the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries plans to import more elk to Buchanan County.
Here in Richmond, a population of elk exists on the grounds of the Defense Supply Center, of all places. The land now occupied by the Defense Supply Center was previously owned by James Bellwood, an avid conservationist who brought in elk from Yosemite National
Park and Washington state to live on his property. When the U.S. Army bought the land from Bellwood's heirs in 1941, one of the conditions of the sale was that the elk would remain on the property and be cared for. To this day, the descendants of Bellwood's elk still live there, with the Defense Supply Center's employees taking responsibility for their care.
For more information: