Have you ever seen Smoky Mountain Bull ELK?!

bull elk

“Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces elk, is illegal in the park. Violation of this federal regulation can result in fines and arrest. Do not enter fields to view elk-remain by the roadside and use binoculars, telephoto lens, or a spotting scope to view the animals.”- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service

Elk can also be dangerous. Female elk with calves have been known to charge people in defense to their young. Male elk have also been known to charge people if they perceive them as a threat to their domain. Please keep your distance to avoid these hazards. SmokyMountains_Elk

History of Elk in the park

At one time, elk inhabited the southern Appalachian mountains, but unfortunately, they were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk seen in North Carolina was in the late 1700s when it was killed. The last elk was killed in Tennessee in the mid 1800s. By 1900, conservation organizations became concerned that the species would soon become extinct. In cases where a species has been eliminated from the area, the National Park service can choose to reintroduce them. In 2001 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park service began to reintroduce elk to the park. Twenty-five elk were brought here from the Land Between the Lakes National Reservation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Fun Facts about Elk

  • Adult male elk are known as “bulls” and weigh between 600 and 700 pounds
  • Adult female elk are known as “cows” and weigh about 500 poundscopper colored elk
  • Adults can be 7 to 10 feet long and stand 4.5 to 5 feet at shoulder length
  • Adult males have antlers that can grow up to five feet
  • Elk can live up to 15 years
  • Elk are vegetarian and eat grasses, forbs, acorns, bark, leaves and buds from shrubs and trees
  • Newborn elk weigh about 35 pounds and can stand within minutes of birth
  • In early spring, elk shed their antlers and immediately begin growing new ones
  • In late spring, elk shed their winter coats and begin to grow beautiful copper-colored, one-layer coats
  • The fall breeding season is known as “rut”
  • Elk can be seen in the Cataloochee Valley and in the field beside the Oconalufee Visitors Center
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Groundhog Day 2013 and Winter Activities

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Check out groundhog.org!Our favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, says we are going to have an early spring this year. As exciting as that is, let’s enjoy winter while we can! In an effort to encourage you to take advantage of the remaining winter weather, we thought we would remind you (and ourselves) of all the great things to do in the Smoky Mountains during the winter.

Play in the Snow!1. Play in the Snow. We know this one is obvious, but we couldn’t very well neglect to mention it, could we? What happens if you get to Gatlinburg…and it snows? Well, you play in it, of course. What happens if you were hoping for snow and don’t see any when you get here? Well, you have to find the snow. Snowfalls of an inch or more occur on average only one to five times per year in the valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains although Gatlinburg has already had two of these snowfalls in December alone. In the high country, over five feet of snow falls most years. For all the best places to play in the snow, visit our snow post.

See Rainbow Falls!2. Tour the Waterfalls. Winter can be the best time for enjoying waterfalls. Waterfall flows are higher because of greater amounts of snow and rainfall. In addition, there is less uptake by forest plants. Waterfall views and opportunities for photography also improve after the trees have dropped their leaves. Visit our winter waterfall post for some of our favorites.

Where have all the black bears gone?3. Take in the Wildlife. Winter is one of the best times for wildlife viewing in the Smokies. Once the trees have shed their leaves, views into the forest are much longer. Wildlife like elk and deer are active for longer periods during the daylight hours because of the cooler temperatures. What wildlife other than bear and dear might you see? Otter, bob-cat, red fox, gray fox, mink, red squirrel, coyote, and lots of birds. Visit our winter wildlife post for all the details.

Ski at Ober Gatlinburg!4. Skiing Anyone? Ober Gatlinburg offers 8 ski trails serviced by two quad and one double chairlift which keeps you out of lift lines and on the slopes. When temperatures drop, their snow-making equipment blankets 100% of there slopes. Slopes are maintained with the latest in snow-grooming equipment to provide a smoother, more consistent surface creating enjoyable skiing conditions. For more information on skiing in Gatlinburg, visit our Let’s Go Skiing post.

Winter Wildflowers!!5. Winter Wildflowers. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts approximately 100 species of plants that are restricted to a single region of the park. Many of these species are only found in the southern Appalachian Mountains, but some have been documented only inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Think wildflowers only bloom in the Spring? Visit our wildflower post to find flowers year ’round.

ERA In The SmokiesSo never fear…you can always find something to do in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains even in the dead of winter.

This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Elk Herd Update 2012

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesElk were originally native to the Smokies and Appalachian area. The last elk in North Carolina is believed to have been seen in the 1700’s and the last elk in Tennessee in the 1800’s. After nearly 200 years, a herd of elk from Land Between the Lakes was reintroduced to the Cataloochee area, in the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 25 elk were introduced to the park in 2001 and another 27 were added in 2002. Since then the elk herd has steadily grown and flourished to the herd of approximately 140 elk! You can view updates from throughout the last 10 years on the National Park’s site. Here is the most recent update, from July 2012:

Smoky Mountain Elk Herd News

View the whole July 2011 update“After several years of high reproduction and survival, the park’s elk herd has had a below average year. Known adult elk mortality has averaged about 4 animals per year since the beginning of the project with slight increases as the herd continued to grow. As of July there have already been 8 documented adult elk mortalities in and around the park. The mortalities have consisted of 5 males and 3 females of the following causes:

• 3 vehicle collisions resulting in euthanasia because of injuries
• 1 from brainworm, a parasitic worm found the Southeast
• 1 euthanasia due to severe infection from a weakened immune system
• 3 illegally killed just outside of Park boundaries

Elk In the Great Smoky MountainsThe park’s elk herd is still small and its future growth is variable depending on recruitment and survival rates across time. This year’s survival data will be added to the data from the previous 10 years and the population models will be reanalyzed. The current elk population in western North Carolina is believed to be approximately 140 animals, counting those elk both inside and outside of national park boundaries.

In February of 2011, a large bull elk was illegally killed near Harmon Den, outside of park boundaries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case in cooperation with park staff. Three individuals have recently been charged with illegal possession of this elk’s antlers but there have been no poaching charges to date. Elk are classified as a species of special concern in North Carolina, so killing elk or acquiring any part of an elk is illegal in the state.

View all our Elk Photos from our 2011 Elk Photo ContestThe case of three elk that were illegally shot and killed this year on private property is still under investigation and is being handled by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in cooperation with park staff. The poaching occurred on May 17 in the Mount Sterling area near Waterville, and nothing was removed from the animals. These elk consisted of one young male and two adult females, one of which was pregnant. Recently, the NC Wildlife Federation has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.

 

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Subscribe to A Day In The Smokies!!Well, Thanksgiving is in just a couple days, so we wanted to share some of the things, related to the Smokies, that we are most thankful for!

Rent A Cabin With a Mountain View!!The Great Smoky Mountains!
Who wouldn’t want to be here in the Great Smoky Mountains! It is certainly a joy to live here, and to share them with all of you! Whether you’re driving through Pigeon Forge and seeing them over the next hill, or driving right up in them to spend a day enjoying their beauty first hand, those Great Smoky Mountains hold a piece of our hearts!

Find Summer Activities!!A Great Summer!
We are so thankful for a great summer! Tons of people came to enjoy the mountains and all the wonderful attractions here! Swimming, waterfalls, Splash Country, walking the Parkway, enjoying the ice cream from across the street after a great game of mini-golf! This summer was full of great times and wonderful memories!

Find Fall Activities!!A Gorgeous Fall!
The fall has been another wonderful time of year! Many of you came to enjoy the mountains as they donned their glorious splendor of reds, oranges, and golds! Hiking, Zip-lining, Dollywood, shopping! The fall was full of fun for us all!! Don’t forget to come back next fall!

See some of our favorite bear pictures!The Bears!
We are thankful indeed for the bears! What amazing creatures they are! And so many of you have enjoyed coming and catching those hoped-for glances of bears! The bears have been more active than ever this year, even enjoying the candy shop downtown. They seem to enjoy doing their best to rip up our trash cans! And if that doesn’t work, for some reason they seem to enjoy our hot tubs almost as much as you do!

Read about the elk!Other Wildlife!
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to “some 66 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 50 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.” Some of our favorites include the elk, the salamanders, and the synchronous fireflies! A couple of the best places to view these include Cades Cove and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail!

Find Kid-friendly attractions!So Much To Do!
There is so much to do and to enjoy here in the Smokies! When each season comes, I find myself looking forward to that season’s unique benefits, and thinking to myself, this is the BEST time to come to the Smokies!! Whether it’s Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, NOW is the BEST time to come!

Find pictures from previous tournaments, and information about our next tournament!A Great Golf Benefit!
This year we had a wonderful time at our 13th Annual ERA for MDA Golf Benefit, in which we were able to raise over $12,000 to send local Muscular Dystrophy kids to a camp where they can experience life without limits! We enjoyed two great meals, a wonderful golf game, and a hilarious auction, all of which raised money for MDA!

People here are so friendly! Why not move here!Friendly Neighbors!
One of the things I enjoy most about this area is the people! They are so loving and friendly! You may think that those of us who live here are resentful of tourists, but quite the contrary! It’s because of our honored guests that are we are able to make a living, and enjoy living here in the beautiful Smokies!! So the people are friendly to locals and tourists alike!

Awesome Customers!
We are so thankful for all our awesome customers! It is our joy to help you have the most wonderful experience possible when you come to the Smokies! We are especially thankful for all of you who keep coming back and invite your friends!

Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t forget to count your blessings!

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Elk Herd Update 2011

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesElk were originally native to the Smokies and Appalachian area. The last elk in North Carolina is believed to have been seen in the 1700’s and the last elk in Tennessee in the 1800’s. After nearly 200 years, a herd of elk from Land Between the Lakes was reintroduced to the Cataloochee area, in the North Carolina portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 25 elk were introduced to the park in 2001 and another 27 were added in 2002. Since then the elk herd has steadily grown and flourished to the herd of approximately 140 elk! You can view updates from throughout the last 10 years on the National Park’s site. Here is the most recent update, from July 2011:

Smoky Mountain Elk Herd News

View the whole July 2011 update“Since last update there have been a few changes within the elk herd. There have been seven elk mortalities since the last update was released. Four of those were in the Oconaluftee/Cherokee area and three were in Cataloochee. Near Oconaluftee a 1.5 year old bull was struck by a vehicle last October on Rte 441 and another in May along Big Cove Rd. Both bulls were euthanized as a result of their injuries. Last fall bull #106 died in a densely forested patch of land along Acquoni Rd. This animal was weak from a previous infection when it became entangled in grape vines and other vegetation. It was unable to free itself and likely died from exhaustion/asphyxiation. Ten-year old cow #39, known locally for being the elk that lived near the Casino, died of unknown causes in May. In the Cataloochee area cow #49 died of unknown causes, though at 12 years old her age likely played a role, and cow #60 died of stress-related injuries in November.

“Bull #16 was illegally killed by poachers. Near Harmon Den, in an area known as Twelvemile, bull #16 was killed illegally and the head and antlers were removed. #16 was one of the original 25 elk released back into the park in 2001 from Land Between the Lakes, KY. He was a 6 x 7 bull in 2010 that spent most of the year in or around the Twelvemile area only returning to Cataloochee to breed during the fall rut. He was a dominant bull for the past 5-6 years and undoubtedly contributed to calf production within the Cataloochee elk group. The case is still under investigation and anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission toll free wildlife violations number at 1-800-662-7137.

Elk In the Great Smoky Mountains“In positive news the 2011 calving season is almost over and it has been another good year for herd recruitment. There have been 19 calves born so far this year that have been accounted for, 16 of which have survived. The causes of death for the three that died are unknown. Of the 16 surviving calves, at least 8 are female, 4 are male, and the sex of the other 4 has not yet been determined. There are still a few females that may have produced calves this year that have not been seen since calving season started, so there may be even more calves recruited into the Smoky Mountain elk herd in 2011!

View all our Elk Photos from our 2011 Elk Photo Contest“This is a great time to come and see the newborn calves travelling with their mothers. If you come to see the elk in Cataloochee or Oconaluftee, please remember the following to help you enjoy your visit and keep you and the elk safe.

  • “Bring binoculars and zoom lenses. This allows for great viewing and photos from a safe distance.
  • Be very mindful of your food scraps and please clean up after yourself. This helps eliminate the chances of an elk becoming conditioned to human food, which usually leads to the demise of the animal.
  • Stay in or near your vehicle when the elk are out, and please pull off the road where it is safe to do so to allow traffic to continue around you.
  • Be patient! This allows everyone to have a better experience of the Smoky Mountains, at a Smoky Mountain pace!

Joe Yarkovich
Elk Management”

WINNER: Elk Photo Contest

Subscribe to A Day In The Smokies!We have so enjoyed our elk photo contest! The elk are not as common around here as the bears, nor are they as famous or as widely discussed. For this reason, we were not really expecting to see many elk photos come in. Boy were we wrong! We received about twice as many elk photos as we did in our last bear photo contest! Nearly 100 entries came in! Of those, 89 of them are very nice photos, which you can enjoy in an album on our Facebook page! Although we loved all of them for different reasons, we did have to narrow it down, and eventually choose one winner! We will list our runners up first, and save the best for last!

2nd Runners Up

Photo by David White

Photo by David White

Photo by David White

Photo by David White

Photo by Jeff Cruchett

Photo by Jeff Cruchett

Photo by Pat Randolph

Photo by Pat Randolph

Photo by Valery Marsh

Photo by Valery Marsh

1st Runners Up

Photo by Debbie Beckham

Photo by Debbie Beckham

Photo by Debbie Beckham

Photo by Debbie Beckham

1st Place Winner of a FREE 3 Night Stay!

Photo by Bill Long

Photo by Bill Long

ERA In The Smokies This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

GATLINGBURG: Elk Photo Contest

Subscribe to A Day In The Smokies!!We just finished up a bear picture contest, but we have had a few people ask us when we were going to have an elk photo contest! And it sounded like such a great idea, we just couldn’t resist! They are not quite as widely famous as the bears, but they are just as beautiful and unique! So if you have some photos of the elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here’s your chance to win big! If you don’t already have pictures of them, you have a month and a half to get here and take some! Then, one lucky contest entry will win a free 3 night stay in one of our Gatlinburg cabins or chalets!

Just email us all those elk pics as soon as you can, to sales@erainthesmokies.com! The contest deadline will be January 31, 2011. Please include full name, mailing address, email address, and phone number! We only need this information to communicate with you regarding the contest.

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.