Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Elk Herd at Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Alright, so maybe at this point I should just change the name of this blog to Animal Tails. Another non-zoo update but I'm all about the conservation of animals and species.

Elk once roamed the southern Appalachian Mountains and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The experimental release of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in February, 2001 with the importation of 25 elk. All elk were radio collared and were monitored during the eight-year experimental phase of the project. In 2009-2010, the park began developing an environmental assessment of the program and a long-term management plan for elk.

Most of the elk are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park. The easiest way to reach Cataloochee is from Interstate highway I-40. Exit I-40 at North Carolina exit #20. After 0.2 mile, turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow signs 11 miles into Cataloochee valley. Allow at least 45 minutes to reach the valley once you exit I-40.