New WMA Offers More Public Hunting in Southern W.Va.

Hunters in southern West Virginia will soon have a new place to hunt, paid for with the cost of their hunting license.  

Members of the DNR recently dedicated the Elk Creek Wildlife Management Area in southern West Virginia.   The tract of more than 6,000 acres straddles the Mingo-Logan County border and offers prime opportunities for the region’s trophy buck hunting.

The Forestland Group of Roanoke, Virginia entered an agreement with the DNR to allow the land to become a Wildlife Management Area.   

"We just had one or two meetings with them and they were all for it," said DNR Wildlife Chief Curtis Taylor. "They have considerable holdings in West Virginia, but this is a six-thousand acre block of forestland in the southern part of the state.    Places like that are few and far between, especially that size."

The DNR has already posted signage in the area.  The state will also maintain roads in the area and DNR Conservation Officers will now patrol the area.      Forestland Group will continue to maintain it’s activities of timber harvesting in coordination with the DNR’s game management plans on the property.

Taylor and the DNR are hoping future such agreements will be easier to come by.  The legislature passed a law last year that absolves the landowner of liability if they agree to allow the state to take over and manage the property as a public hunting or fishing area.   

"Liability is always a huge issue.  That’s what they worry about 24/7,"  said Taylor.   "When you have a lawyer sitting in Pittsburgh and you talk about some guy carrying a gun on your property (in southern West Virginia) they dont’ see that as a good thing." 

However, Taylor says armed with the change in the state’s liability laws, corporate land companies are becoming far more receptive to the idea of allowing for public hunting through the state.     Under the agreement all liability is held by the state.  

"Once we get in front of them and tell them that, that’s usually all it takes,"  said Taylor.

Taylor says they are always pursuing landowners in hopes of striking agreements.  He says there are several other potential leads in southern West Virginia for public hunting land, but they are still being developed.  He says none are the size of the Elk Creek WMA.  

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