LOGAN, W.Va. — Visitors to Chief Logan State Park will soon get a chance to see West Virginia’s newly established elk herd.
The park will host a series of 20 guided tours to the nearby Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, where more than 90 elk roam freely. The elk, imported from Kentucky and Arizona, are part of a Division of Natural Resources effort to restore the species to the Mountain State.
The four-hour tours, scheduled to begin Saturday, Sept. 8, will begin at the Chief Logan Conference Center between Logan and Chapmanville.
For $30 ($27 for kids 15 and under), guests will receive a meal, transportation to and from the Tomblin WMA, an educational program led by park naturalist Lauren Cole and a souvenir. An “overnight package,” which includes dinner and a room for two at Chief Logan Lodge, is available for $170.
There is no guarantee guests will be able to see elk. The animals are free-ranging and are not trained to perform for humans. However, the tours are timed to be present at dawn and dusk, when elk are most active. The vantage point for the tours overlooks the center of the area where the elk were released and are often found.
“There is a good chance tourists will see an elk or even hear a bull (elk) bugle,” said DNR director Steve McDaniel. “But even if they don’t, these tours are still something you don’t want to miss. The program is fun and informative, and the location and terrain (are) amazing.”
Perhaps because of the uncertainty, the tours are called “elk management project” tours rather than “elk viewing” tours. Cole’s presentation focuses on the species’ natural history, habits, habitat and the challenges of managing free-roaming herds.
Morning tours begin at 5:30 a.m., afternoon tours at 4 p.m. Each tour can accommodate up to 12 guests. Parks officials urge participants to wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots. They might also want to bring a light jacket, a walking stick and binoculars.
Scheduled dates and times for the tours are Sept. 8, 5:30 a.m.; Sept. 9, 5:30 a.m.; Sept. 15, 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Sept. 20, 4 p.m.; Sept. 23, 5:30 a.m.; Sept. 25, 4 p.m.; Sept. 29, 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Sept. 30, 5:30 a.m.; Oct. 6, 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Oct. 7, 5:30 a.m.; Oct. 11, 4 p.m.; Oct. 13, 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Oct. 14, 5:30 a.m.; Oct. 20, 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Oct. 21, 5:30 a.m.