Your North Carolina Link to the
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The 2002 Elk Release

The Elk are Here!!!

As of Saturday, January 26th the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 27 new residents (19 female and 8 male).

The elk made the 2,600 mile trip from Elk Island, Alberta, Canada...arriving healthy and in good condition. After being loaded several days ago in -30 degree weather, these elk stormed out of the trailers into "the tropics" of the North Carolina mountains.

The elk were released into the same acclimation pen as last year's group, and are expected to join the current free-ranging herd of 28 elk as soon as "green-up" begins.

The difference between this year's release and last year's revolves around the source of the elk. Last year the elk came from the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. This year they will come from Elk Island in Canada. The elk must be tranquilized and transported to a holding area for testing. Once all the elk are ready for transport to North Carolina they will be loaded into trailers like the ones pictured below.

The Trailers must then make the long journey from Canada to North Carolina. The time necessary to gather the elk together and transport them in uncertain weather conditions is a major concern for the health and safety of the elk. In order to minimize the stress on the elk and to maximize the probability of a healthy transfer to the holding pens, the elk will be released from the trailers as soon as they arrive in the Cataloochee Valley.

Unfortunately, this means that we will not be able to attend the release. I am posting pictures of LAST YEAR'S release to give everyone a feel for what is involved in the process.

Russ Morton - North Carolina Volunteer Webmaster
or e-mail

Return to the Homepage

This page created by R.S. Morton
All the elk pictures on these pages are the property of Russ and Betty Morton