What's the big deal about this North Carolina elk herd traveling down a main street in Cherokee?
First, this video is proof that the stocking efforts several decades ago in the Smoky Mountain region is working. These eastern elk are thriving and growing in number. So much so, that the state of North Carolina and Tennessee are beginning to allow hunters to apply for tags to hunt them.
If you travel through Smoky Mountain National Park there's a good chance you'll see the elk feeding in the meadows at the base of the mountain.
The same is true for the Cataloochee region. Tourist often come across elk while sighting-seeing or skiing.
However, there's another reason it's a big deal that these elk are in the city. They do not fear humans.
tThese elk traveled right through downtown Cherokee. In fact, it's more of a common occurrence than one might believe.
Farmers are learning to coexist with the giant animals that will sometimes destroy fences or crops. Farmers are legally allowed to kill elk if they are damaging property, but they must call wildlife officials immediately.
Game officials are beginning to euthanize elk because they are not spooked when encountered in the park by humans. This is obviously unfortunate. However, an elk attack on a tourist would be bad publicity for a Park that brings in 11.4 million people nearly every year.
Nonetheless, conservation efforts brought the elk population back to a stable herd that is now flourishing.
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