A bull elk bugles in a meadow

Over Half a Million Dollars Raised for Conservation Efforts in Virginia's First-Ever Managed Elk Hunt

Over half a million dollars was raised by hunters who participated in Virginia's first-ever managed elk hunt. More than $606,000 was fundraised by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to help wildlife and management projects within the state's elk management zone.

Kyle Weaver, president and CEO of RMEF had this to say: "This funding is an indicator of the significant contributions of hunters who support Virginia's elk and elk country. We also salute our partners at the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) for their diligence in successfully managing the state's growing elk herd. Those efforts open the door for this first, historic hunt."

The Virginia DWR presented its first ever elk conservation license to RMEF and the organization raffled it off, earning more than $93,000. That followed DWR's initial lottery of five antlered elk tags that raised more than $513,000. More than 31,000 people entered DWR's tag lottery, and the lottery and conservation tag raffle combined to draw applicants from all 50 states in the country.

Ryan Brown, the director of the DWR, also said in the news release, "That's approximately half a million dollars that will go right back into wildlife conservation because of the contributions of these hunters. Though a small hunt, it's significant in marking the early success of the restoration of this magnificent animal to Virginia, and also a tremendous opportunity to show the greater public the conservation benefits of hunting."

As a leader in wildlife conservation, the DWR manages inland fisheries, wildlife, and recreational boating for the state. They focus on conserving wildlife populations and habitats by connecting and educating people how to enjoy the outdoors safely.

The RMEF was founded almost 40 years ago and has over 225,000 members. The organization focuses on conservation of more than 8.5 million acres for elk and other wildlife, providing funding and volunteer support to help restoration of wild, free-ranging elk. It's completed 82 conservation and hunting heritage projects in the state of Virginia, raising more than $2.1 million since 1993.

READ MORE: How to Identify Elk Sign for Both Hunters and Non-Hunters