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Elk in the Smokies
Elk in the Smoky Mountains
Majestic Manitoban Elk to be released in the Carolina's
wapiti - elk - stag
Written by Marvin V. Stenhammar - Updated 15 January 2001
Elk Photography by Russ Morton - Piedmont Chapter RMEF

UPDATE:  The Tennessee Elk release went according to plan and the herd is in good shape.  The North Carolina Elk Release went according to plan and we again have Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Dateline Gunnery Network News - 15 December 2000 --- In the near future, you may be able to view majestic Manitoba Elk and take pictures of these beautiful animals in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, in conjunction with federal and state wildlife management agencies, is working to re-introduce elk into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cumberland Plateau Area of Tennessee.  Two separate elk releases are scheduled, one in Tennessee's eastern mountains and one in North Carolina's western mountains, with additional elk being brought into both areas over the next few years.

The Tennessee elk herd, of approximately 50 animals, is scheduled for a 17 December release. The transplanted elk will be set free in the wilds of the Cumberland Plateau Area.  The Cumberland Plateau cuts across Tennessee roughly midway between Knoxville and Nashville.  The southern part is divided by the Sequatchie Valley.  The elevation cools the sultry southern summers, but the winters remain mild.  There are over 100 miles of trails on 12,000 acres.  It is not very populated and it is a wonderful area for white water, hiking and camping, as well as a very agreeable area for elk and wildlife overall. 

The Tennessee release is what the Elk Foundation calls a "Hard Release" as the animals will be release directly into the wild without an enclosure or a transition area.  This marks the first time elk have roamed the Cumberland Gap since 1865.  The area has been studied at length and has been deemed suitable for reintroduction of a large elk heard.  The Tennessee herd is a reintroduction program, unlike the Carolina herd which is an experimental release program.

Tar Heel Elk

Carolina Elk

The Smoky Mountains National Park Herd, in Western North Carolina, will be established by releasing approximately 25 elk, on 2 February 2001.  The "Carolina Herd" will be "soft released" into an enclosure in the Cataloochee area.  The Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States.  Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was the largest and most prosperous settlement in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Great Smoky National Park or GSMNP is in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee and encompasses 800 square miles of which 95 percent are forested.  GSMNP is world renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal resources, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture and the depth and integrity of the wilderness sanctuary within its boundaries.  Rife with curvy mountain roads, green meadows, giant rhododendron, tiny mountain laurel, wonderful water falls and abundant wild life, the Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States.  A recent biological survey concluded that there is more biodiversity in this small area than in all of Europe and new fauna and flora are discovered often.

Technology Aided "Soft Release"

This so-called "soft release" involves keeping the herd in a defined area for study and evaluation.  Over a period of 2 or 3 months the elk will be allowed to leave the enclosure for longer periods of time, but will have food and water provided in the enclosure.  The elk enclosure is actually a large acclimation pen, where the gates will eventually be left open to let the herd come and go.  This method of release gives the animals time to adapt to the area and allows wildlife managers to study and observe the herd.

The "soft release" method includes radio tracking collars and close monitoring of the herd by state and federal wildlife officials.  The radio collars allow tracking of any elk by vehicle, aircraft and even by satellite.   The tracking allows game managers to find elk that leave the designated area so they can be returned to the elk habitat.  It also allows wildlife managers to evaluate migration and movement data.  Soft release or not, I am happy to report that we will finally have elk back on North Carolina soil.

Research has shown that soft release animals tend to have less movement and stay closer to the introduction area, which is important in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to its size and proximity to populated areas.  These majestic animals will gradually be released into the National Park area.  It is hoped that by the spring of 2001 the Carolina herd will be roaming free in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just in time for the spring grasses and other succulent and healthy food sources.

Reintroduction Program - Experimental Release Program

Kim De Lozier, of the National Park Service, stated that in the case of the Carolina elk herd, "this is an experimental release and not a reintroduction".   He added  "The Carolina herd will be closely monitored for diseases and to determine their suitability for reintroduction into the park's ecosystem."  He also stated that the Carolina elk herd will consist of approximately 25 animals, with a viable mix of mature bulls and cows, as well as juveniles and calves of both sexes.  An additional 25 elk per year will be released in to the park over the next 3 to 5 years.  The experimental release and evaluation period will last 5 years and if successful a full scale reintroduction program will follow.

De Lozier told Gunnery Network News that "these elk were selected for their general fitness, good reproductive health and low susceptibility to disease and parasites." The elk selected for the park will be brought in from the Land Between the Lakes, a  U.S. Forest Service wildlife area in Western Kentucky.  The elk have been living in a 700 acre enclosure since 1996, when they were brought in from Elk Island National Park near  Edmonton, Alberta Canada.  Elk Island is the  Alberta plains oasis for rare and endangered species. It was set aside in 1906 to protect a herd of only 20 elk and today is home for thousands of elk as well as bison, moose, bear, beaver, and coyote that all live in the rolling hills and stands of aspen.  Next years animals will come directly from Elk Island in Canada.

Click for Bugle Call
Photo © Russ Morton

Smoky Mountain Herd Selected for Health & Fitness

State Wildlife and Agricultural officials have stated that precautions have been taken to insure that the elk will be disease free and will not threaten other wildlife, livestock and humans.  Although elk do suffer from bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis and wasting disease, this has not been detected in the herds that will stock the Smoky Mountains with wild elk.  

Susceptibility and transmission of disease have caused the banning of "elk farms" in a few western states.  Problems became evident when elk farmers mixed captive indigenous wild elk and infected European red deer.  The hybrid offspring later escaped into the wild and infected adjacent wild elk herds and domestic animals including cattle.

The Elk Island herd was specifically chosen because they are know to be disease free and are also very hearty.  They are Manitoban Elk which are closely related to the Eastern Elk that became extinct in the Appalachians about 150 years ago.  Elk have not lived in the Carolina's since the late 1790's and were hunted out of the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee in 1865.  In addition to Manitoba Elk, North America has 3 other species, Rocky Mountain, Tule and the large racked Roosevelt Elk.

Kim De Lozier stated that "elk are very adaptable and though many people think they are browsers, they are actually generalists and both browse and graze depending on their habitat and seasonal changes to vegetation."  "Elk lived in this habitat  for thousands of years, and we are optimistic that this experimental release will be successful."  He went on to add that the National Park Service has a mandate to evaluate the various species that once thrived in the Smoky Mountains and to facilitate the reintroduction of indigenous species that are deemed suitable.  The Park has successfully reintroduced the Peregrine Falcon, the River Otter and the Barn Owl.  Only the Red Wolf reintroduction program was unsuccessful.

Reintroduction Works

Reintroduction of elk has been successful in several states over the past decades with herds being established in Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains and along the Buffalo River.  

Elk populations are also increasing in other states where they had almost disappeared. The forests surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona, are home to an increasing number of elk.

On the west coast, once down to only a few individuals, California's 7,500 elk now live in locations from the foggy coastal ranges to the hot and sunny central valleys.  For the first time in decades, elk can be seen on the prairie between Denver and Colorado Springs where they were abundant before human settlement.

Prior to the 1800s, elk ranged throughout North America, except Alaska and Florida. Today, elk live in the following states and Canadian provinces:  United States: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Canadian Provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

Elk Range
Graphic shows Elk Range prior to 1900
Click for more information - Graphic RMEF Art

Change on the Range

Where they were in 1900

Where they are now

  • Elk now live as far east as Pennsylvania, where they were reintroduced in the early 1900s.
  • More than 200 elk roam through forests in the north-central part of the Keystone state.  
  • Scientists are investigating the feasibility of reintroducing elk to other areas in the East.  
  • Though elk are known to thrive in most environments, as with all wild life, loss of habitat and suitable range are the main issues.

Hunters Play Key Role in Management

Hunters play a key role in achieving the goals of reintroduction and have helped to ensure the return of elk in North America.  The fees from hunting licenses and sportsmen fund most of the wildlife management in America.  Hunting has been used as an elk management technique to keep the number of elk in balance with their habitat.  The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is now home to 500 elk, the maximum number that this small remnant of wild prairie can support.  In the absence of natural predators, refuge managers use hunting to balance the elk population with the prairie resource.

Predation in the Smokies will be from black bear, coyote and bobcat which may take a few calves or sick elk but do not pose a risk to healthy adolescent or adult elk.  With a small herd, it will be several years before a viable elk herd exists in the Smoky Mountains, capable of supporting any hunting activities.  Hunting is not allowed in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and North Carolina State Wildlife officials are initially categorizing elk as non-sporting game.  They may also be listed as a special threatened species, to discourage poaching and to stiffen fines as well as administrative and judicial punishments for the unlawful hunting of elk.

Ancestors and Cousins

North American Elk are the descendants of Asian Red Deer that entered North America long before humans did, perhaps as early as 120,000 years ago when water became locked in ice sheets and ocean levels dropped creating a land bridge between Asia and North America.  They came into a land with plenty of room and abundant food.  In the past, biologists believed that the elk developed into a separate species from the red deer.  Most biologists now consider all the elk in North America to be the same species as the red deer in Asia and Europe.  In Europe and most of the world, the word "Elk" is used to describe moose (Alces alces).  The name elk is used only in North America to designate a different animal, the WAPITI.  The American elk are called Wapiti to distinguish them from European red deer. 

Species Cervus Canadensis

"Wapiti" from the Sioux and "Waapiti" from Shawnee 


Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Vertebrata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Suborder Ruminantia
Family Cervidae
Genus Cervus
Species Elaphus

Wapiti What? 

Elk are Cervus Canadensis and are properly called Wapiti.  Pronounced Wap·i·ti.  The plural is wapiti or wapitis.  Described as a large light brown or grayish-brown North American deer having long, branching antlers.  Also called American elk.  The coat is typically grayish brown, with a chestnut mane and a yellowish rump.  Elk are ungulates or "hoofed" animals and are close cousins of the moose, caribou, white-tailed deer and mule deer.  All elk belonging to the order Artiodactyla and to the deer family know as Cervidae.  They belong to the genus Cervus and are of the species Elaphus. 

All ungulates have hooves and this large group used to be considered one order, but now "ungulates" refers to two distinct orders.   The two orders of ungulates are Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla.  The number of toes is the most obvious difference between the orders.  Artiodactyls include elk, deer, bison, pronghorn sheep or antelope and peccary and have an even number of toes.  Perissodactyls like horses, elephants have an odd number of toes.  As ruminants (of or relating to a suborder Ruminantia) they chew the cud and have a complex four-chambered stomach.

Like other ungulates, members of the elk family are herbivores -- they eat only plants.  Their diet may include grasses, forbs (low-growing, short-stemmed plants), shrubs and trees (including limbs and bark).  Members of the elk family must eat and watch for predators at the same time.  Elk fulfill these double needs by gathering in herds.  In a group of elk, at least one animal is looking up while others are eating.  Even the animals that are feeding are constantly twitching and turning their ears to listen for unusual or warning sounds.

Wapiti Cuisine - What the Elk Eats


Elk graze on more than 70 kinds of grasses, depending on where they live. 


Elk continue to graze on grasses, but also will browse on more than 140 kinds of broad-leaved plants, tree leaves and twigs, and shrubs.


Along with shrubs and dried grass, some elk will eat mushrooms. 


Elk usually browse this time of year eating the twigs, bark, and needles of dozens of trees and shrubs. They'll also consume tree lichens. 

Deer and elk share the same habitat types and some of the same food.  During the summer, they seldom compete because food is usually abundant and elk prefer to feed in the middle of large meadows while deer stay near the edges.  In the fall, however, they may compete with deer for food, because then they eat more of the same plants in the same places.  During a long winter, all herbivores compete for sparse food.  In such cases elk often fare better than deer because they move more easily through deep snow, can reach higher vegetation, and are able to eat a wider variety of plants.  With four distinct season in the Smoky Mountains and by comparison relatively mild winters, our Carolina elk herd is expected to thrive.

Rack on Bull Elk
"Rack" or Antlers on Bull Elk

What's on Top

The male or bulls of the cervidae family grow and shed antlers each year. (Female caribou also grow and shed antlers.)   Bull elk "cast" or shed their antlers every spring.  

Testosterone, the same chemical found in humans, is the hormone in the bull's body controlling the "cement" that holds the antlers secure.  It also effects the bulls sexual desire and aggression toward other bulls.  Testosterone peaks during the rut.  In the spring, the testosterone level drops, as do their antlers.  

The amount of "points" on a bull's antlers does not directly correlate to the years the bull has lived.  Rather they are an indication of health and fitness.  Senior bulls do typically have larger racks that the juniors, but it's not one point for one year.

On top of every bull's head are two pedicles -- bones shaped like cups and covered with skin.  Antlers grow out of these pedicles.  Once testosterone hardens the bond, the antlers are locked into the pedicles so tightly that a bull could bear the weight of ten bowling balls from each antler and the antlers wouldn't budge.  Bull elk antlers weigh up to 40 pounds for the pair (18 kg).  After the antlers are cast, the pedicles bleed a little, but they soon heal.  The cycle begins again as a new set of antlers sprout from the pedicles. 

The Rutting Bull

He bugles and grunts, fights with other bulls, and tries to mate with the cows.  In most animals this is called "the Rut" or referred to as "rutting". 

Normally shy and docile, a rutting bull can become aggressive and is best left alone or viewed at a safe distance.  By October, the amount of testosterone slowly begins dropping and hormone levels will continue to fall until early spring when the antlers fall off.

Rutting Bull Elk - Bugle & Battle

Cow and Calf - New born and wobbly
Cow and Calf - New born and wobbly
Photo © Russ Morton

Just a Big Baby

At birth an elk calf weighs about 35 pounds (16 kg) and can gain two pounds (one kg) a day for the first few weeks.  They are quick to their feet and stay very close to their mother.  Their beautiful natural color help them hide from predators.  Other females in the herd look after the newborn calves and are known for being excellent mothers.  At the start of its first winter an elk calf may weigh five times as much as when it was born.  About 175 pounds.

Bull and Cow Elk
Bull and Cow Elk

Majestic and Powerful

Bull elk weigh 700 pounds on average (315 kg), stand 5 feet (1.5 m) at the shoulder and measures more than 8 feet long (2.4 m) from nose to rump.  

Record bulls weight over 1100 pounds.

Cow elk can weigh more than 500 pounds (225 kg), stand 4-1/2 feet (1.3 m) at the shoulder and measure 6-1/2 feet long (2 m) from nose to tail.

Elk Behavior

For most of the year, cows, calves and yearlings live in loose herds or groups.  The large bulls typically live alone and juvenile and smaller bulls tend to live in bachelor groups.  The herd is lead by the mature females.  During the rut, cows and calves form smaller groups, called "harems," with one or two mature bulls vying for mating rights.  At this time the yearling bulls may form bachelor groups or stay near the harems.

Elk on the range
A herd of elk grazing on green grass

An elk's long legs are packed with powerful muscles designed for speed and endurance. They are equipped with a strong heart and large lungs to pump blood and air in to their muscles and to keep them moving.   For elk moving is what life is all about and it is what elk and other grazers do to find enough food throughout the year.  They also need to escape predators such as wolves, mountain lions and grizzly bears. 

Elk have keen senses that enable them to identify each other over long distances and to detect approaching predators. Unlike human eyes that can see precise images, an elk's eyes are designed to detect movement.  They are keen to even the slightest shifting of grass as a predator approaches.  To an elk, knowing that something is moving closer is more important than identifying the kind of animal approaching.   Elk are relatively shy and take to flight when they feel threatened.  In many Native American cultures these great beasts are referred to as "Spirit Deer".  

Elk Speak

Elk are among the noisiest ungulates, communicating danger quickly and identifying each other by sound.  The high-pitched squeal is a newborn communication with its mother, who recognizes her calf by its voice.  The bark is a warning to the herd of potential danger.  The short chirps, mews and miscellaneous squeals are general conversation among the group.  Bugling, typical of a bellow escalating to a squealing whistle that ends with a grunt or several grunts, is the bull elk advertising his vitality and fitness to the cows.  The bugle is also a warning for other bulls, telling them to stay away and to state his claim on the harem.  The bugle is also used to announce his readiness to fight.  Elk also use body language.  For example, an elk displays dominance by raising its head high.

Big Medicine - Spirit Guide

In most Native cultures elk is also a "Medicine Animal".  Within native traditions, medicine animals often come to us as guides or helpers at difficult moments and to assist us with the hard times in our lives.  They will also appear as a sign (indication) or "Spirit Guide" for those who have learned to listen.  In many cultures they are know as animal spirits or totem animals.

According to the Medicine Man's Guide;  Elk or Stag symbolize Stamina & Purification .  They teach us to be keenly aware of our surroundings, to pace ourselves and increase our stamina.  They promote companionship with our own gender or fraternity.  Elk are a strong symbol of fertility, sexuality, single mindedness, grace, majesty, integrity, dignity.  As a spirit guide they assist in helping us let go of material possessions, to recover from emotional attachments and to apply integrity and persistence to all of our relationships and to create lasting bonds.

King of the woods
6 x 6 Bull Elk - King of the Woods

Home on the Range

Where the Elk Roam

Today, Americans primarily see elk in mountainous and forested terrain today but they are well suited to open spaces.  Some scientists believe that an elk's body and senses reflect adaptations for the lifestyle of a herd animal that may have once roamed the great plains for its food.

Because their big eyes are on the sides of the skull, elk can see what is happening ahead of them and beside them, as well as most of what is going on behind them.  

Likewise, their big ears can twist forward and back to capture faint rustlings and other sounds of movement.  In regard to sound, elk are also very quit and move through even the heaviest under brush with silence and grace.

Elk also seem to have a superb sense of smell.  Combine the sharp senses of a herd of five, ten or fifty elk and it's easy to understand how they avoid predators, hunters and spectators.

Elk Watching Tips

  Leave your pets at home.
  Always observe from a distance. Use binoculars and spotting scopes.
  Talk in whispers and minimize sharp sounds such as clicking cameras.
  Never come between a cow and calf.
  Stay clear of bulls during rutting season.
  Never come between a bull & a group of cows, or two bulls challenging each other.
  If elk become alert or nervous & begin to move away, you are too close -- back off.
  Behave like a guest in their wild home -- try not to bother them
  If an animal is aware of you and remains calm, don't hide.  Stay in full view and
       move casually.  (Quick or furtive movements signal a threat to most wildlife.)

Where we are  -  Where we are going

Today, elk number about 1 million in North America.  This represents roughly 10 percent of the estimated population before European settlement of North America.  Although elk will probably never return to their historic numbers nor to all of their historic range, far more elk inhabit the United States than at any other time in the last 100 years.  

Government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners are working together to ensure a secure future for elk.  For example, five government agencies and nonprofit groups pooled their resources to purchase thousands of acres of migration routes and prime winter range north of Yellowstone National Park.  This land, which had been privately owned, could have been subdivided and developed.  Instead, it remains intact habitat for the world's largest migratory herd of elk.

Support the RMEF

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation - RMEF

It must be stressed that foremost of the organizations working in the effort to reintroduce elk in the Smoky Mountains and the rest of North America, is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and specifically the Piedmont Chapter of the Elk Foundation in North Carolina.  The Elk Foundation dedicates its resources and energy toward protecting elk and elk habitat.  Since its beginning in 1984, the non-profit organization and its members have protected and enhanced thousands and thousands of acres of critical elk habitat.  RMEF's actions also ensure habitat protection for other animals that share the same resources.  Many other nonprofit groups, local and national, also direct their programs toward protecting habitat for wildlife.  If you are still reading this report, you should consider joining or making a donation to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Wildlife Management

Although elk face major problems as they coexist with growing numbers of people and loss of habitat, the future of elk will be bright if people work together to help elk.  We can best do this by considering the needs of wildlife in all of our decisions.  If we all help, then elk and other wildlife will continue to be a  part of our world and a gift to our children and our grandchildren. 

With the hard work and dedication of groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, our state and federal wildlife managers, concerned citizens and hunters, the new elk herds in the Smoky Mountains will thrive and  reestablish this great and majestic animal in the Smoky Mountains.  Gunnery Network happily welcomes "Carolina Elk" back to their Smoky Mountain home.

Please consider joining or making a donation to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Written by Marvin V. Stenhammar
E-mail [email protected]

Photography: Russ Morton
Co-Chair / Webmaster
Piedmont Chapter - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Photographs as indicated are Copyright © Russ Morton - All Rights Reserved.
E-mail at [email protected]

Special Thanks to Kim De Lozier of the National Park Service for information and support.

Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains

A visit to the Cumberland Plateau is an experience rich in natural wonders and scenic beauty.  A land best known for its great caves, cascading waterfalls, natural arches, and isolated river canyons, the Cumberland Plateau stretches from northeast to southwest, encompassing parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.  Within the Plateau's geographic boundaries are many protected areas, including the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and the Obed National Wild and Scenic River.

The Plateau also possesses a unique history and cultural heritage.  Inhabited first by Native Americans, then by pioneers migrating westward, the Plateau contains many sites that document its rich history.  As different groups passed through, some chose to settle permanently, resulting in a diverse cultural heritage celebrated today in many regional events.

Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains, upland region of the southeastern United States and the southwestern division of the Appalachian Mountains.  It extends along the southwestern border of Virginia and southeastern Kentucky, and passes across eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, and northeastern Alabama.  From the plateau, which is 80 km (50 mi) wide, about 725 km (450 mi) long, and from 305 to 610 m (1000 to 2000 ft) high, extend several small mountain ranges, including the Cumberland Mountains, noted for underground streams and caverns and for the Cumberland Gap. 

On the east the plateau descends abruptly into the Appalachian Valley, also called the Great Valley. The western slope is more gradual and is deeply broken. The slopes of the plateau are drained mostly into the Ohio River by the Cumberland and the Tennessee rivers. The surface rocks of the plateau include sandstones, lime stones, and slates that enclose valuable deposits of coal. The plateau has extensive forests and is impassable in many parts. Only the valleys are cultivated, the ridges being rocky and unfertile. The plateau is sparsely populated because of its rugged terrain.  Many people live in isolated communities and rely on subsistence farming.

For more information see URL: http://www.tennessee-inns.com/region4area.html

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What Makes the Smokies So Special?

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is indeed a special place.  Among some of the features making it special are: 

Diversity. More than 4,000 species of plants grow here. A walk from mountain base to peak compares with traveling 1,250 miles north. Several resident plants and animals live only in the Smokies.

A rich cultural history. From the Cherokee Indians, to the Scotch-Irish settlers, this land was home to a variety of cultures and people. Many historic structures remain standing. Subsistence turned to exploitation as logging concerns stripped the region of timber. Recovery is now the dominant theme. 

Nine million visits per year.  The National Park Service must balance the needs of the land with the desires of the people both today and for the future.  The Park is an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. These international recognitions
represent the Smokies' importance to the planet. Neither designation results in a loss of national sovereignty or infringement on private land use, including development. The
purpose of this United Nations' program is to recognize and encourage preservation of the world's great cultural and biological areas. The United States' National Park Service is
proud to steward this world renowned site. 

The International Biosphere Reserve Program is a voluntary approach to help preserve and protect the world's biological resources. Each reserve has a core and buffer areas. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, shielded from development, provides a core area. Other public lands serve as the buffer. Education is the only tool used to promote
stewardship among private land owners. Other International Biosphere Reserves include Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon National Parks. 

The World Heritage Site designation denotes the Park's inventory of Appalachian cultural items from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Combined with the Park's management to
maintain cultural landscapes, such as in Cades Cove and Cataloochee, the Park stewards a unique cultural resource.  Like biosphere reserves, it is a voluntary program working to
preserve Earth's resources and history. Other World Heritage Sites include Yellowstone and Mammoth Cave National Parks. 

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

On the Web at URL: http://www.nps.gov/grsm

For more information E-mail [email protected]

Elk Island National Park - Alberta Canada

Elk Island National Park is a wildlife sanctuary fenced in to protect the important species
which thrive here. Thirty-five kilometers east of Edmonton, Alberta, it is an oasis for elk, bison and a number of other animals. Marked by trembling aspen groves and rough fescue grasslands, the park was established in 1913 to conserve rapidly declining species. The small population of elk protected with the birth of the park has grown into a substantial herd. 

Elk Island National Parl

Web URL: http://www.parcscanada.gc.ca/parks/alberta/elk_island/elk_island_e.htm

Elk Foundation Contacts & Wildlife Information Webs

Piedmont Chapter of North Carolina - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
On the web at URL: http://www.NCElk.org

Russ Morton - Co-Chair and Webmaster
Tel 336-463-4555
or e-mail [email protected]

Tom Nave - Chair
Tel 336-375-6500 X 112
or e-mail [email protected]

Greg Johns - Public Relations Chair
Tel 294-2301 x305
or e-mail: [email protected]

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation - RMEF
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
2291 W Broadway
P.O. Box 8249
Missoula, MT 59807

1-800-CALL ELK (1-800-225-5355)
1-406-523-4550 (fax)

[email protected]

On the Web at URL: http://www.rmef.org

The Canadian Headquarters - RMEF
Located in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
Business hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m, M-F.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Canada
P.O. Box 940/4316-49 Ave.
Rocky Mtn. House, AB

1-403-845-2410 (Fax)
[email protected]

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - GSMNP
National Park Service
POC Kim De Lozier
Tel - 865-436-1248
Fax - 865-466-1220
On the Web at URL: http://www.nps.gov/grsm

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Information: 919.662.4381

Alberta Dept. of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Services
Information Center: 463.422.2079

Elk in the Smoky Mountains!
Written by Marvin V. Stenhammar - Updated 15 January 2001
Elk Photography by Russ Morton - Piedmont Chapter RMEF