Those of you who follow me on Twitter know how near and dear the Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are to me and of course the tens of thousands of other park visitors a year who come to the Cataloochee Valley just to see our elk.
Unfortunately this morning someone well within the national park boundaries in the Cataloochee Valley decided to poach one of our beloved Elk which was one of the first elk released in the park, 13 year old Bull #21 pictured above.
This person who committed this cowardly act not only took this animals life away but took from all of us a magnificent beast. Elk are now able to roam the Great Smoky Mountains which have not heard the bugle of a wild elk for more than 100 years due to over hunting and habitat destruction because of a great investment and time and money from private sources given graciously to the park.
For those of us who love the Great Smoky Mountains national park the elk have become intimately intertwined with this beautiful place since their experiment introduction in 2001 and the herd has grown from 52 head to an estimated 105. The long term prospects for this experimental reintroduction of elk in the Smokies looks fantastic.
Poaching of natural and cultural artifacts is a serious problem in all of our national parks. Poaching in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and the adjoining Blue Ridge Parkway is most commonly to plants such as ramps, ginseng, and wildflowers such as lady slippers as well as wildlife most commonly black bear and deer.
More than 80 park volunteers who love the elk and I work in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in a program called the Elk Bugle Corp offering educational information to visitors about the elk and the GSMNP, help with traffic management and work to maintain a safe distance between visitors and our beloved elk and black bear.
So that some good use comes out of this cowardly crime, it would be great if this animal was mounted for display in the new Oconaluftee visitor center being built or the Sugarlands visitor center museum rather than just dump the animal's body after the forensic evidence is gathered to prosecute this criminal. At least people can then see up close one of these magnificent animals we have so much invested in.
I urge anyone who has any information about this or any wildlife crime in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to call the GSMNP Main Number at park headquarters (865)436-1200.
Related Elk in the GSMNP Stories
- Alleged Poacher of Bull Elk 21 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park charged, but is it enough?
- Memorial Fund For Slain Bull Elk #21 to Support the Elk Bugle Corps Volunteer Program
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Elk Poaching Suspect Confesses and Arrest will be made
- Elk poaching takes place in Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
- Elk Reintroduction in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park needs more Volunteers for Elk Bugle Corp Program