News | April 14, 2021

DSCR's Bellwood Elk thrive during pandemic thanks to great care

By Installation Management Richmond Environmental Office

This past year has taught us how important it is to take care of ourselves and stay healthy. The same is true with our Bellwood elk herd on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. 

On March 25, David Gartz, a wildlife biologist for Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources, gave our elk, and their three pastures an in-depth look-over and inspection. He was particularly interested in the appearance and maintenance of the pastures, the care provided to the elk and the overall well-being of the herd. 

“These visits happen once each year,” said Fred Fennell, an equipment maintenance supervisor with Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond, the organization responsible for the elk. 

“DSCR is the only [Defense Department] installation to have regulatory permits to exhibit elk,” added Fennell, “so we take our management and care responsibilities very seriously. Plus, we know how important the elk are to the history of the installation.”  

 The results of the inspection were all positive. All of the animals are healthy and doing well due to the continued stellar care and upkeep from DLA Installation Management Richmond team members. 

Adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, many installation management employees continued to come to work on DSCR each day to take care of the installation, its employees and the elk. Their care of the herd continued throughout the year just as it did prior to the pandemic. The elk ate very well during the colder months, enjoying a combination of hay, corn, deer food and vitamins. Once growing season returns, their diet will be supplemented with fresh alfalfa and lemongrass. 

“Our elk are part of the DSCR family,” said Jimmy Parrish, chief of the installation’s Environmental Management Division. “Nearly 80 years ago the War Department made a promise to the Bellwood family that we would take care of their elk. Continuing that care now is just the right thing to do.”

The installation’s elk herd size is currently 24, with eight males and sixteen females.  These numbers include the three calves that were born last year. In addition to the visit by DWR, the elk are also visited yearly by a large-game veterinarian, who gives the herd a much more thorough medical check-up, and places identification tags on the ears of the recently born.

For more information on the history of the Bellwood Elk visit the Bellwood Elk history page.