Elk Reintroduction in the Smokies
I ran across the following article this week while catching up on reading some of my "junk mail"...the re-introduction of elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was news that I had missed. This article is from "Friend of Wildlife", The Journal of North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Volume 53/Number 1, Fall 2005. Does anyone have first hand knowledge of how the reintroduction is going? As the article suggests, this was a 5-year experiment, which means that next year decisions will be made. Activities such as this make me wish I could relocate to the park! Maybe one day I'll get to move closer to that area...gotta get the kids through college first!
"Discover Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
On September 24, join us for an afternoon and evening spent with the reintroduced elk herd at Great Smoky Mountains National Park! We'll visit the park at an optimum observation time during the mating and bugling period for these magnificent animals, and have a park wildlife biologist on hand to give us a history of the amazing reintroduction of elk to the Southeast. The experimental release of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February, 2001. All elk are radio collared and are monitored during the five-year experimental phase of the project.
Elk once roamed the Southern Appalachians and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina is believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. In Tennessee, the last elk was killed in the mid-1800s.
During the fall, male elk make their legendary bugling calls to challenge other bulls and attract cows. Their calls may be heard a mile or more away. Large bulls use their antlers to intimidate and spar with other males. During the "rut" in September and early October, dominant bulls gather and breed with harems of up to 20 cows.
Please consider bringing binoculars, snacks, and water. We will be meeting the wildlife biologist at 4:20 p.m. on Saturday, September 24. A $50.00 program fee will support North Carolina Wildlife Federation's Great Smoky Mountains National Park habitiat conservation project. Call (704) 332-5696 to register."
I remember reading an article that described the project as going quite well. The elk are thriving, and there is even some up and comming bulls that want to challenge the current dominant male. Sonds positive. I'll look around to see if I can locate the article.
I went to that area of the Smokies' in Oct. 2002 to hike the local trails in hopes of seeing or hearing some Elk. At that time, the main concerns were, how would the Black Bears react to thier new neighbors? I never heard if any problems arose with the bears. Anyhow, after hiking around the Cataloochee area for 2 1/2 days I had no luck until I got to the campground. I set-up my tent as it was getting into dusk and I noticed that a bunch of campers were headed up to the main road. I asked a couple next to me why, and they said to see the Elk! Sure enough, the Elk were grazeing in the meadows where they were released. I got a few dark pix of a pair with a youngster. I suppose they will spread out as the herd grows and they compete for food. I would be interested in updated info if anyone has it.
2004 saw 30-40 Elk transported to the Smokies from Land Between the Lakes Elk and Bison Prairie. That was the 2nd or 3rd transport for reintroduction to the wild. The Elk and Bison Prairie in Western KY currently boasts about 45 head of elk including a 24 point buck. Reintroduction usually takes place the last week of January or the first of Feb. It would be interesting to see how the numbers are doing in the Smokies. Any news?
I found this http://www.ncelk.org/herd.htm but not much other information (I don't know how to "interpret" the data...is this success, or not, or, as I suspect, it may be too early to tell.
Originally Posted by Turtle2
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