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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Ten elk have been transported to Buchanan County from nearby Kentucky, where they have been placed in acclimation corrals to help them become familiar with their new setting. They are scheduled for release in several weeks on reclaimed mine land in the War Fork area.
The two pregnant cows and eight yearling bulls are scheduled to join 24 other elk in the county from stockings and reproduction last year, according to Allen Boynton, terrestrial wildlife biologist manager for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
"These elk were trapped last January and held for disease testing in quarantine in Kentucky," said Boynton. "Disease testing results indicate that these animals pose little risk to Virginia wildlife or domestic livestock."
The calving season is underway, but it will be late July or early August before an accurate count can be made of the newborns, Boynton said.
Virginia has been in line for Kentucky elk behind Missouri, which explains the modest stockings this year and last. That is expected to change next year when Virginia hopes to receive a final stocking of 50 or more elk. Plans call for building a herd of 400 animals by 2020. Kentucky's herd has passed the 10,000 mark.
Good turkey hunting all around
Just as hunters in Virginia were crowing about a record spring gobbler season, word comes that West Virginia also enjoyed a spectacular year. The Mountain State reported a kill of 10,974. That's only about half of what Virginia reported and isn't a record, but it was a 32-percent jump over the previous season, and 13-percent above the five-year average.
As we reported on this space last week, Virginia's kill of 19,247 was 26-percent above the previous year and nearly 1,000 birds above the record set in 2002. It was 24-percent better than the 10-year average.
Biologists in Virginia and West Virginia say the good season reflects a robust turkey population, especially a good hatch in 2011, which produced many of the two-year old toms in the kill. The good hatch is credited to the absence of harsh weather during the spring nesting season and decent mast crops which have kept turkeys in good shape.
"We are hopeful that this spring will continue to provide moderate-to-average rainfall and we will have above-average reproduction, rebuilding the turkey population to levels we experienced a decade ago," said Curtis Taylor, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section.
Spring weather in 2013 often has been cold and wet, factors that can result in mortality of polts.
Both states reported that sportsmen enjoyed favorable hunting weather, especially during the first week of the season when the highest kills occurred. In Virginia, 31 percent of the kill was tallied during the first Saturday and first full week of the season.
The area of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains saw a 31-percent jump in its kill while eastern counties clocked a 23-percent increase. Virtually all the turkeys killed-92 percent-came from private land as opposed to the national forest.
The top five counties in Virginia were Bedford, 631; Halifax, 516; Pittsylvania, 510; Franklin, 425 and Southampton, 411. In West Virginia, top counties were Preston, 403; Mason, 360; Harrison, 355; Kanawha, 327; Ritchie, 325.
Back Bay on the rebound
It was a long drive from the Roanoke Valley, but I traveled several times to Back Bay in the late 70s and early 80s to enjoy the superb largemouth bass fishing. I even wrote about it for Outdoor Life Magazine. In 1980, the Bay, a brackish piece of water within earshot of the breakers of the Atlantic Ocean, produced an amazing 240 citation bass-fish 8 pounds our more.
Then all kinds of bad environmental things happened and the once great fishing was history. The Bay has languished as a fishing wasteland for years, but recently it has been making a comeback. Helping that along, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been stocking fingerling bass in the 25,000-acre estuary, something pretty much unheard in the rounds of fishery management.
A three-year cycle of stockings began last season. Recently the Bay received this year's allotment of 125,000 fingerlings. The stocked fish have been enjoying good growth, officials say.
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