Friday, April 13, 2007

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Elk need your help!

The Great Smoky Mountains national parks largest resident is the Elk who were reintroduced in 2001 after being extinct in the wilds of the North Carolina and Tennessee Smoky Mountains due to over hunting for more than a century.

Elk in The Great Smoky Mountains national park

The National Parks Park Volunteers-in-Parks program is now seeking volunteers who are able to assist the staff by helping provide visitors to the park with information, help in traffic control of tourists coming to see the elk and making sure that visitors coming to the park are not antagonizing the elk by approaching them too closely, shining lights at them or using bugles to simulate their mating call all prohibited activities.

This new Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volunteer program is going by the name Elk Bugle Corps referring to the sound the elk mate during rutting when the male bull elk bugle and spar in dominance battles with one another.

The elk are primarily in project in the North Carolina Cataloochee Valley section although strays wander to as far as the Oconaluftee visitor center and further. The Volunteers are needed for the Cataloochee Valley from May 25th through November 19th which are peak elk viewing times and see the most visitors to this section of the National Park looking for Elk.

Late springtime mean calving for the elk where new mother at times leave their calves alone in fields which can be an invitation to disaster if curious person comes along and an irate mother elk returns to her young to see humans close by.

The rutting season is a fantastic time to watch and listen to the elk, but it is also a time when this huge potentially dangerous animal is more agitated.

The park needs volunteers who can help from 5:45 pm - 8:45 pm who can sign up for either a particular day of the week or a whole week at a time. The most help is needed on weekends.

If you are interested in helping the magnificent creatures call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Volunteer Coordinator at (865) 436-1265 by May 7 to receive an information packet and on May 17 and 19 there will be a Bugle Corps volunteer training session.

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