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See elk on Southside at new viewing stand

// News // DC // VA
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There's a new exhibit in town and it comes with quite an extensive history. A local army installation is now offering you the opportunity to get up close and personal with elk. It's not just for amusement, officials are hoping to shed light into the background of wildlife in the state.

Until now, if you came to the Defense Supply Center of Richmond installation post to get a look at elk in action, you'd probably be asked to leave. But now that's all history.

"Folks consider it a challenge so they just don't bother," said Yvette Burke of the Defense Logistics Agency.

But who wouldn't want to see them? Elk have roamed freely for years on acres of land adjacent to the installation. It was all part of the deal when the army post first acquired the property.

"The Bellwood Family wanted to make sure someone was going to care for that herd for the rest of eternity. So that's when the gentlemen agreement was struck that the army would provide that perpetual care for the herd," Terry Rodwell with the installation said.

Now, some 70 years later, that agreement remains intact. But because this is federal property, it hasn't been so easy for the public to get a glimpse unless you worked there.

"It's just a beautiful site," Burke said describing the sounds the elk make in the morning.

Thursday, the post held an unveiling of a new public viewing stand. It's one of just a few places in the Commonwealth with elk on display.

"The site is different from anything else you'd normally see in Richmond. You're not going to see an elk unless you go to the zoo," Burke said.

"Stop by and read our informative sign and enjoy our elk herd for many years to come," Rodwell added.

Because it sheds light into the exotic while educating those who appreciate all of the many aspects Mother Nature has to offer.

"To be able to officially share it out to the public is a great honor and achievement for our team," Rodwell said.

Care of the elk is funded through public support. That's why officials say this public viewing area is now officially yours. There are 17 elk in the herd, including five new calves. You can see them by visiting the Defense Supply Center located on Jefferson Davis Highway near Route 1. The viewing stand is just outside of the east gate on the installation.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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