Part of the Missouri controversy springs from the way the Department of Conservation gets its money. In addition to revenue from hunting- and fishing-license sales and from federal excise taxes paid on hunting and fishing equipment, the Missouri agency gets one eighth of one percent of the state's annual sales tax collections.
Sales tax revenue accounts for 58 percent of the agency's annual income. Taxpayers feel they have a right to complain when the agency overspends, and they do.
West Virginia's wildlife officials enjoy a good deal more independence because their agency derives almost all of its funding from license sales and federal excise-tax rebates. Because the DNR receives only a tiny fraction of its money from the state's general fund, agency administrators tend to listen more closely to license-buying hunters and anglers than they do to taxpayers as a whole.
That said, if Mountain State wildlife officials ever overspent on an elk-stocking project as badly as Missouri officials appear to have overspent on theirs, they'd be in every bit as much hot water as their Show Me State counterparts.
West Virginians don't have much money. They must live within their means, and for the most part they do. They have a hard time understanding when government officials badly underestimate the cost of a project, especially an expensive, high profile one like an elk-stocking initiative.
To my knowledge, West Virginia officials at this time have absolutely no plans to stock elk within the state.
Circumstances change. Public or political pressure might someday persuade DNR officials to purchase elk from some other state and release them into the southwestern coalfields. If or when that happens, I'm sure the good folks at the Missouri Department of Conservation would be happy to render the following advice:
Stick to the budget. Even if the public wants what you're providing, they'll still count the nickels.