Two elk jumped over the median on U.S. 119 and into the path of an ambulance in Logan County early Monday morning.
Both elk - a cow and a calf - died after the ensuing collision near the Whitman exit, said Randy Kelley, of the state Division of Natural Resources.
Kelley is leading the DNR's effort to revitalize the elk population in West Virginia.
Project members gathered in December to release 24 elk in the state, where the animal had not been seen since 1875.
The cow in Monday's accident likely weighed about 500 pounds, Kelley said, and the calf may have weighed about a third as much.
"Although she was just born in June, she's already the size of a small whitetail doe, Kelley said of the young elk.
No patients were in the ambulance, Kelley said, and two ambulance personnel went unharmed. They visited Logan Regional Medical Center as a precaution.
A caution sign is posted about a quarter-mile from where the collision unfolded. Kelley urged drivers to be mindful of their speed and to be aware of animal crossings.
However, Kelley said such accidents are possible - even expected.
"We anticipated that potential, he said. "It's one of those unavoidable things if we're going to restore elk in West Virginia.
He said West Virginia's elk population is now 22. The project aims to introduce up to 60 more elk to the state next spring.
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