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Displaced elk returned to South Carolina mountains

With the help of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) tranquilized the Upstate’s infamous displaced elk the evening of Nov. 17 and successfully moved it to a remote area in the South Carolina mountains. 

SCDNR biologists believe the young bull elk was pushed away from his home territory in Haywood County, N.C., by bigger bulls.  And their hope is that, once the elk realizes there are no female elk in the area, it will return to North Carolina and rejoin its herd. 

“If anyone sees the elk, please do not attempt to feed or touch it,” SCDNR Region 1 Wildlife Coordinator Richard Morton said.

“When people approach the elk or try to feed it, it can affect the elk’s behavior and travel patterns,” SCDNR Wildlife Biologist Tammy Wactor added.  “And it also has the potential to create public safety issues.”

Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001. The elk population around the Great Smoky Mountains is estimated to be around 150, and there have been numerous unconfirmed sightings in the South Carolina Upstate in recent years.  Legislation protecting elk in the Palmetto State was passed by the S.C. General Assembly five years ago.  That legislation was promoted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in anticipation of elk migrating to South Carolina.

For media inquiries, contact Richard Morton at 864-982-2924 or RichardM@dnr.sc.gov.

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