Book details the fall and the rise of elk in the East

out elkA new book has been published detailing the story of the grand, four-legged keepers of the Great Smoky Mountains Park: the elk.

 Author Rose Houk, in her book Smoky Mountain Elk: Return of the Native, follows the journey of the elk in the park from their extinction in the East to their return to the park and subsequent fame. In 72 pages, the book also details the biology of elk; the decision-makers who brought them home to the Smokies; and the project’s success that today has resulted in a herd some 140 animals strong and has been declared a permanent reintroduction.

“An Elk Year” is a particularly intriguing chapter that takes readers from the October rut, an elk’s mating season, to June, when a calf is likely to be born nearly every day somewhere in the park. It is a stark contrast to a time when overhunting and fencing of private land brought about the extinction of the elk east of the Mississippi in 1865.

“Readers who are interested in the elk will especially enjoy the gorgeous photographs and informative text in this brand new book,” said Kent Cave, one of the editors. “Rose does an excellent job of revealing the amazing story of how elk were reintroduced to the Smokies, how they survive here, their dramatic courtship rituals, and how calves and cows struggle to elude predators.”

Houk’s book is published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, a nonprofit organization that supports the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Soft-cover copies are available online for $9.95.


Rangers take visitors on elk walking journey

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host two ranger guided hikes centered on the elk in Cataloochee Valley. “Return of the Elk,” a 1.5-hour-long program, leaves from the Rough Fork trailhead at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, July 9 and 23. The hikes take visitors to the elk acclimation pen, where they will learn how, when and why the elk were returned to the Smokies. The hike is of moderate difficulty and covers slightly less than a mile in distance.

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