AM Stone | WVOW News
HAMLIN A Lincoln County man pleads to charges of possession of elk parts.
It is unlawful to possess any part of an elk in West Virginia as part of a program to reintroduce the animal back to the state. The prohibition is meant to cause the least disturbance to the herd in the elk management area.
According to the Natural Resource Police, officers received an anonymous tip of a suspect in possession of several elk shed antlers. Game wardens, along with state police, served a warrant for a search of the suspect’s Lincoln County home.
According to Metro News, 19-year-old Cole Mitchell, of Alkol, pleaded guilty to one count of illegal possession of elk sheds Tuesday in Lincoln County Magistrate Court.
Officers discovered the five antler sheds and a six-by-six dead head in the attic, according to Natural Resource Police Officer Gage Harvey. A dead-head is the skull and both antlers of an elk.
“The elk project is just starting out,” Harvey said. “The elk right now are considered endangered and protected species. The ultimate goal is to get them off the endangered status so that one day people can hunt and enjoy the sport.”
In 2016, the Division of Natural Resources released 24 elk and were the first known elk in the Mountain State in over 140 years.
The man admitted to taking the head and sheds from the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Mingo County.
All the elk are numbered and the herd is maintained by use of GPS telemetry collars. The head has been missing since the bull’s collar ceased tracking.
Five counts of possession of elk sheds was dropped with the guilty plea. Moreover, Mitchell was fined $1,171.