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Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park ...



Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildlife biologists swung open the gates on April 4, 2001 to release the first 25 elk to roam the Park in almost 200 years. The elk had been confined to a temporary acclimation pen in the Cataloochee area of the Park since their arrival in North Carolina on February 2.

elk elk
elk elk
elk elk

The images above were taken at the Oconaluftee Farm Museum which is located just inside the National Park from the Cherokee, NC entrance to the park. Elk can be seen in this field at any hour of the day and night. Although the elk are not in this particular field at all times, they can be seen there frequently.

Wildlife Viewing:

You can increase your chances of seeing wildlife in these ways . . .

  • carry binoculars
  • drive slowly along park roads at dawn or dusk
  • when walking or driving, stop often to watch and listen for wildlife

Most visitors understand that feeding wildlife is against the law, but many people do not realize that disturbing park wildlife is also a violation of federal regulations and can result in fines and arrest.

The laws protecting park wildlife are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. It states that “Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces bear or elk is prohibited." In addition, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited.

As a rule of thumb, if you approach an animal so closely that it changes its behavior, you have approached too closely. Instead use binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras with telephoto lenses to enjoy wildlife. Watch for any modification in an animal's behavior that indicates that you have approached too closely. Move away from the animal until you reach a distance at which the animal feels comfortable once again and resumes whatever activity it was engaged in before you approached.

Never feed wildlife or bait animals for closer observation or photography. Feeding park wildlife usually guarantees its demise.

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