Elk were released in the Smokies in 2001 and then again in 2002. This release is still considered an experiment. An original 52 elk is now a herd of 135 elk. Some animals have left the Cataloochee Valley and moved on to other parts of the park.
Now the park has determined that the elk can be sustained over the long-run. They wants to transition to a long-term management strategy. This means that the elk will be protected like other animals in the park and not managed on a day to day basis.
No experiment lasts forever. I wrote in my comments and supported their preferred alternative. But I added:
But at some point, maybe years or decades, people in Western North Carolina
will want to hunt elk when the animals cross over to National Forest land. Some do now. I
hope that the Smokies will get involved in this issue and give their expert
For more details and to comment on this proposal, go to the NPS planning site.