North Carolina elk

North Carolina Elk Meander the Parking Lot in Cherokee

Recently established North Carolina elk stroll into the town of Cherokee. 

Cherokee is just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where officials reintroduced elk in the early 2000s. Specifically, 52 elk were released in the Great Smoky Mountain region to try to reestablish a Tennessee and North Carolina elk herd that thrived in the 1800s.

The herd is now estimated to be between 150 and 200 animals in the Great Smoky Mountains. These elk are protected and not allowed to be hunted. However, only recently did the state pass a law for a lottery drawing which will allow minimal animals to be hunted.

The Tennessee herd is estimated at 400 animals and only six bulls are allowed to be harvested. North Carolina will probably allow no more than four bulls.

Biologists determine how many losses the herd can withstand. However, the herds suffer from other sources such as disease or farmers who are legally allowed to kill the animals that are nuisances on their land.

When most people think of elk, they think of western states such as like Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. However, with the help and support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, elk have been able to maintain thriving herds in eastern states like North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, too.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.