Farmers say no.
And the most influential people in the area - the tourism crowd - say "bring it on."
Sorry, farmers. You lose.
Elk reintroduction plan announced for Southwest VirginiaI'll give the tourism experts (who have yet to lure a tourist to Southwest Virginia) this much: Northerners would be far more apt to come see Elk babies frolicking in Scott County meadows than they would be - or have been - to come down here and watch our trees and boulders do their thing.
By Debra McCown, Bristol Herald Courier
Wise, Va. – The draft plan to restore elk herds in three Southwest Virginia counties will be outlined and discussed at a series of public meetings scheduled by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
While several counties were considered as a home for reintroduced elk, Regional Wildlife Manager Allen Boynton said Wise, Dickenson and Buchanan counties are the best fit because they have less agriculture and significant quantities of reclaimed surface mine land, which can provide ideal habitat.
“To be successful at this, we would have to have community support,” Boynton said, “that’s why we haven’t made a decision. We need public input, not just from local governments but also the citizens in the county, the businesses in the county, everybody who has a stake in it or could be affected.”
The big push behind the idea is hunters, Boynton said; the biggest opponents are farmers concerned about crop damage and competition with domestic livestock for the same grazing land.
“It’s not just hunting,” he said of the animals’ tourism draw, “It’s also people coming to see them.” [link]
And hunters are a crazy bunch, willing to spend thousands just to have thirty seconds of bliss. And that's just for bunny rabbits. Imagine what they'll spend to shed blood in Dickenson mud if they're given the opportunity to bang away at the biggest of North American critters.
Hell, I may become a tourist myself and drive over there just to watch the fireworks.