Friday, February 26, 2010

Alleged Poacher of Bull Elk 21 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park charged, but is it enough?

We waited for months for the alleged elk poacher 35 year old Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina to be charged, and to the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina has finaly filed charges.

Bull Elk #21 was shot and killed on November 13, 2009 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks Cataloochee Valley in a field across from the Palmer house. Allegedly, Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. fired at least 3 shots from his Browning .270 caliber rifle killing bull elk 21 and then fled the crime scene in his blue 2002 Chevy Avalanche truck.

If convicted of this cowardly crime against a helpless animal, Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina can be made to forfeit both his vehicle and the firearm, serve as much as 6 months in jail and face fines listed in the charges as a whopping $500.

National park regulations call for fines as much as $5,000 so I am hoping that the US Attorney's office made a typographical error in their press release of the charges being filed against Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina and they are not settling for such a low figure. This is certainly not the way to discourage other poachers.

Civil charges may also be pending to attempt to collect some of the expenses invested in Bull Elk #21 by donations from individuals and organizations such as Friends of the Smokies and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Poaching a national park treasure such as bull elk #21 is a crime against all the people who owned this majestic creature the citizens of the United States.

$500 fine? That's an outrage as far as I am concerned.

Memorial Fund Set Up For Slain Bull Elk #21 to Support the Elk Bugle Corps Volunteer Program

A memorial fund has been set up by Friends of the Smokies to raise money to help properly equip the more than 80 unpaid park volunteers in the Elk Bugle Corp who generously give their time: 16,472 hours in the past 3 years!

The Elk Bugle Corp teaches visitors about the elk restoration project, other park inhabitants and ongoing projects, the history of the Cataloochee area, promotes responsible wildlife viewing, and helps with traffic management which is rut season is a handful.

The presence of members of the Elk Bugle Corp acting as the eyes and ears of the park along with some very dedicated visitors, has been instrumental in protecting our beloved elk from undue human contact and poaching.

Help the Elk Bugle Corp and help us keep this from happening again.

To Donate Click Here

Default Donation is $10 but you can increase or decrease the amount

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowable by law.

Related Elk in the GSMNP Stories

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Are Guns Legal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? They will be in just a few days...

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with other park service units will be allowing some park visitors to carry a gun as part of the credit card reform bill starting February 22nd 2010.

Will it be legal or illegal for you to carry a gun in the GSMNP or in other national parks? Here is the official park statement so you can decide for yourself:

GSMNP statement about firearms in national parks:

Concealed Firearms Regulations
As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms website and select the state that you are interested in from the list on the right side of the page. More specific information about state permit regulations can be obtained on the following websites:

North Carolina

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances.

Additional Information for North Carolina permit holders:

The permit holder must have the permit together with valid identification whenever carrying a concealed handgun, and must disclose to any law enforcement officer that they have a valid permit and are in possession of a concealed handgun when contacted. The permit and proper identification must be presented to a law enforcement officer upon request.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with North Carolina state law. See the North Carolina website listed above for more information.

North Carolina recognizes certain out-of-state concealed handgun permittees to carry concealed handguns, if the person’s respective state also grants such privilege to North Carolina concealed handgun permittees.

The list of states granting such reciprocity is constantly changing. Out-of-state permittees should refer to the North Carolina Department of Justice’s website at for a current listing of those states which are allowed to carry, pursuant to their concealed carry permits in North Carolina.

To possess a concealed handgun in North Carolina, out-of-state holders must:

  1. Carry their permit and a valid form of identification at all times.
  2. When approached or addressed by any law enforcement officer in North Carolina, disclose the fact that they have a valid concealed handgun permit.
  3. Inform the law enforcement officer that they are in possession of a concealed gun.
  4. Present both the permit and valid identification at the request of the law enforcement officer.

Additional Information for Tennessee permit holders:
The permit holder must have the permit in their immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun and must show the permit at the request of a law enforcement officer.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with Tennessee state law. See the Tennessee website listed above for more information.

Tennessee recognizes a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of such out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee.

This means that the state of Tennessee will recognize any state’s valid permit or license, even if Tennessee does not have a written reciprocity agreement with that state, and even if that state does not recognize a Tennessee permit.

Individuals must be in possession of the permit or license at all times while in possession of a handgun in Tennessee.

Until the new regulations take effect on February 22, 2010, carrying concealed firearms is not allowed and all possession of firearms within National Park Service lands must be in accordance with 36 CFR 2.4, which states firearms must be "rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that prevents their ready use."

...End Of GSMNP Statement on Firearms in the Park

Please be advised I am not a lawyer or offering legal advice. The last time the law about guns and firearms in national parks was revoked and they were made illegal again, the national park service did not make any public announcement of the change therefore anyone who is accessing this information should check with the national park service and state authorities to see if it is still valid.

States with NC and/or TN
Concealed Weapons Reciprocity Agreements
(subject to change without notice)

  • Alabama NC only
  • Alaska NC and TN
  • Arizona NC and TN
  • Arkansas NC and TN
  • Colorado NC only
  • Delaware NC only
  • Florida NC and TN
  • Georgia NC and TN
  • Idaho NC only
  • Indiana NC only
  • Kansas NC only
  • Kentucky NC and TN
  • Louisiana NC and TN
  • Michigan NC and TN
  • Mississippi NC and TN
  • Missouri NC only
  • Montana NC only
  • New Hampshire NC and TN
  • North Carolina TN
  • North Dakota NC only
  • Oklahoma NC only
  • Ohio NC and TN
  • Pennsylvania NC and TN
  • South Carolina NC and TN
  • South Dakota NC and TN
  • Tennessee NC
  • Texas NC and TN
  • Utah NC only
  • Virginia NC and TN
  • Washington NC only
  • West Virginia NC and TN
  • Wyoming TN only

Official Link to TN Firearms Regulations
Official Link to NC Firearms Regulations

I was personally under the impression that only concealed carry with a valid permit was what was going to be legal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park staring on February 22nd 2010.

Unlike the last time that firearms were legal in the GSMNP for a few weeks in 2009, apparently now there will be open carry in some national parks including rifles and shotguns as they are specifically listed in the park statement above.

I cannot answer how having very visible shotguns and rifles will play out in the Great Smoky Mountains national park at this time. I can say that for many people who have come to the GSM national park in the past, seeing highly visible firearms may not only be disconcerting, it will also lead to a rangers potential confusion as to a visitor's intent in the park.

Do out of state visitors without concealed weapons permits have to right to open carry long guns in the Great Smoky Mountains national park? What about handguns? If not, can concealed weapons permit holders from a state with reciprocity agreements open carry long guns and or handguns in the Great Smoky Mountains national park?

Some other questions remain such as do you have to announce that you have a concealed weapon if you just pass by a ranger on a trail or one walks up and greets you? Do you have to only announce concealment to a Protection Ranger or do interpretive rangers along with other uniformed park staff count as well?

Since the Great Smoky Mountains national park is in both NC and TN - 2 states with different weapon laws and these borders are not at all clearly defined except at Newfound Gap, will each part of the park have different laws based upon the location of a visitor and his state of residence? Obviously from the chart of Concealed Weapons Reciprocity Agreements above there are huge difference between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Other very interesting questions about how this new law will effect visitors to national parks and staff around the country is presented here.

Even if and when it is legal for you to have a gun in a national park, there are some places where firearms are prohibited such as visitor centers, ranger stations and office buildings. This is not a complete list of where guns are prohibited in a national park (which will also vary by state) so please check with the park service first. In the past, the national park service did have signs at these locations showing that firearms are illegal.

Remember even though some guns will be legal to carry in some parts of the Great Smoky Mountains national park, hunting is not.

Lastly if you want to protect yourself against a black bear attack in the GSMNP you should not use a gun but use bear pepper spray which is legal for use in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and is much more effective and safer to use as well.

Related New Stories on Guns in National Parks:

Comments are welcome and encouraged. When it comes to gun laws and/or restrictions, tempers on both sides of the issue often flare but lets keep it civil or they will not be posted.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg Spur Reopens as GSMNP Deals With More Weather Related Issues

Today a second major rock slide has occurred on the section of the Foothills Parkway between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge which locals call "the Spur" closing to road to traffic for hours and creating snarls in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville as motorists unfamiliar with the area attempted to navigate back roads in the pouring rain.

Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg  Spur Reopens as GSMNP Deals with More Weather Related Issues

New barricades and detours have been set up so that traffic is now moving both northbound and southbound on the Spur and in some areas, southbound traffic is flowing in one lane on the northbound side.

The landslide was a major event dumping tons of rock and earth on the roadway and leaving and extremely unstable slope in its wake. Blalock construction is moving large equipment into the area which will include a crane that will be used to remove any of the unstable areas of the mountainside, which will later be removed from the road surface.

Cades Cove Loop has been closed for much of the day as the days strong winds caused a significant number of large trees and branches to fall on the roadway.

Upper Tremont road also sustained significant tree damage and a small rockslide along Little River Road undermined a tree that was in danger of falling onto the roadway prompting the park serviced to close the road between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye.

Reports have also come in that there are a significant number of blow downs on Newfound Gap Road that has also been closed all day long.

If all of this mess is not enough for the Great Smoky Mountains national park to deal with, rivers, creeks and branches are now running very high and flooding can be expected in low lying areas.

New Rock Slide hits Spur Section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway

Yet another rockslide just hit the spur with between 20 to 30 feet of debris being dumped on the roadway. This rockslide has occurred where traffic was moving in the Southbound lanes at the first curve past Gum Stand. It is not at where the previous rockslide on the Gatlinburg - Pigeon Forge Spur has occurred.

There are no reports of injuries or property damage at this time.

Traffic is being turned around and the city of Pigeon Forge has blocked off access to the Gatlinburg - Pigeon Forge Spur. Traffic on the Spur is being rerouted to the Flat Branch bridge.

New Rock Slide hits Spur Section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway

A large trees is also blocking both lanes of the Foothills Parkway East and since the Great Smoky Mountains National Park personnel is tied up with the new landslide on the Spur, it will take a while to clear this road.

Road Conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

High Winds, Rain, Fog and Light Snow Blanket The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains national park has seen days of rain and melting snow saturating the ground toppling trees. With today's wind event gaining in strength, especially on the Tennessee side, it is best that visitors stay out of the park while crews work on making the roads in the park safe again.

Road closures include Newfound Gap Road and now Cades Cove Loop Road and even after the storm is over it may take a while to cleaned up the downed trees and dangerous snags before the roads will be safe to open again.

The Foothills Parkway West has so many downed trees Great Smoky Mountains national park road crews were only able to open the roadway into a single lane alternating on each side for administrative purposes and not for public access until the numerous trees blocking the roadway can be cleared.

Today's high wind advisory calls for gusts up to 45 mph and the winter warning in effect from 9 pm tonight to 4 pm Sunday calls for high winds, snow, sleet and freezing rain. Accumulations of less than 5 inches are expected in lower elevations.

This appears to be another weekend in the Smokies that if you do not have to be out on the road, it's best to stay home and stay safe.

Road Conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains national park