The Status of the Elk may be Changing!

Elk on Rough Creek Trail - 2009/07/07

I don’t usually look at the hunting and fishing regulations. I don’t hunt or fish but I have no problems with people who do.

The new “Hunting, Fishing and Trapping” regulations came out. It’s 24 pages of small print. The following was brought to my attention.

It concerns the elk population, mostly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Remove elk (Cervus elephus) from the state’s list of Special Concern species.
Justification: The only free-ranging population of elk in North Carolina was introduced by the National Park Service into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Park Service has indicated to the Commission that they will soon declare their elk-restoration project a success, and elk will no longer be an “experimental population.” Because of the current status of the restoration effort and elk population in western North Carolina, the extra protections afforded Special Concern species are no longer necessary for elk.

So what’s wrong with that? I thought. An elk wanders from the Smokies to Pisgah. You still can’t shoot it because there’s no hunting season for elk. Doesn’t that make it “protected”? Well, it seems it’s never that simple.

The NC Camouflage Coalition, a network of hunters and fishers, who are part of the NC Wildlife Federation are against that change. They brought this to my attention and say that

NC Camo does not recommend removing protective status from elk until a
management plan for elk has been developed and is in place to define the status
of elk when they leave the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 
At present, wandering elk are protected as species of special concern; what will
be their status if we remove that classification?

So you can go on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website and register your concern or better go to one of the open meetings and speak your mind.

Do those two organizations sound vaguely alike?

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission is a state organization chartered to manage the state’s wildlife resources. They make the rules on hunting and fishingand set the hunting seasons.

The NC Wildlife Federation is a non-profit organization which advocates for NC wildlife and habitat.

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