Sunday, September 14, 2008

1st sighting of Elk in Cataloochee Cove - GSMNP

We had not gone very far into the cove when we spotted this elk in the woods along the side of the road. We were told they stay in the woods to stay cool, and don't come out of the woods until around 5 or 6 in the evening. They can also be seen in the fields early morning, or cloudy days. Later I will be posting more photographs of this same elk in the open field as we were leaving later in the afternoon.

Cataloochee Cove is one of two locations the elk are being re-introduced in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The elk are the reason I heard about Cataloochee Cove, and also the reason we visited the cove. I have never been around elk, so I am in the learning stage. 25 elk from Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area were released in 2001. 27 more elk were released in 2002. They are radio-collared and will be monitored during the experimental phase of the project. You can see the collar in this photograph, and in the others I will post.

Elk are referred to as bulls, cows and calves. The adult male average 600-700 pounds. The cow average 500 pounds. Adult males have antlers that may reach a width of five feet.

They shed theirs antlers in March. The antlers, which are rich in calcium, are quickly eaten by rodents and other animals. (It is illegal to remove antlers from the national park.) After they have shed their antlers, elk immediately begin growing new ones. The rangers are setup all through the cove showing the antlers. So you can check them out up close, legally. By August elk antlers are full grown, weighing up to 35 pounds, and have shed their velvet. The size of the antlers is determined by they diet.

During the colder months of winter the elk wear a two-layer coat. Long guard hairs on the top repel water and a soft, wooly underfur keeps them warm. In the late spring elk shed their winter coats and start growing sleek, copper colored one-layer summer coats. Calves have lost their spots by summer's end.

Elk can live as long as 15 years. They have an acute sense of smell and excellent eyesight.

9 comments:

Bradley Myers said...

Great post, but then you know I already have a thing for Elk. Thank you very much for the reward, that makes one for each of the sites this week. I do not accept awards for my blogs lust like at work as a fireman. Here it is more of a time thing that I have to spend in front of this machine.

Thanks again and looking forward to more of this elk.

MyKnoxville said...

Wow, what a great photo. I've been to the park many times and have never seen an elk.

tipper said...

Just found your blog through The Fishing Guys-and I love your photos!! My husband spent most of his youth camping in Cataloochee and riding horses. It is a beautiful place. I love to just sit and stare at the old home places-wondering what it must have been like to live there all those years ago. Your photography is stunning!!

April said...

Wonderful photo of the elk resting! What a beautiful spot!

Darla said...

Great info on the elk

fishing guy said...

Leedra: A wonderful view of the bull elk.

The Tile Lady said...

Leedra, how wonderful! I had no idea they had started re-introducing elk to the east! My daughter and I had the most amazing thing happen years ago on a drive out west. We had been given advice on taking a more scenic route from New Mexico into Az down toward Tucson, going through Showlo. It WAS a great route to take and we stopped often, getting pictures along the way. When the sun went down we were still in desert surroundings, but after a while we started noticing the shadows of trees on either side of the road and realized the terrain had changed. This highway we had been traversing said 65 miles an hour even though it was one lane each way, but in the dark we came upon a sign that said "Watch for Elk." I'm always a major scaredy-cat that I will hit a deer, and I thought boy an elk would be even more horrible to hit, so I reduced my speed to 45 mph, even though the speed limit was still 65. Then after a while we saw it in the car headlights! A big beautiful elk crossing the highway in front of the car! We made our exclamations of surprise and I slowed to about 25. Then watched with our mouths open as the beautiful beast slowly ambled across the road and continued on into the dark forest. It was wonderful!

Dorothy said...

Looks like you visited and photographed the same things we did last fall! Out on the left side of that old church there was a herd of 20 Elk grazing. We stayed and made a gazillion pictures of them. It was so much fun! The little stream down in front of the church was real pretty, too. The church is facing away from the present road and I suppose that it used to be on the other side of the church. Beautiful photography!!!

troutbirder said...

In the fall when I've gone trout fishing in Montana the sound of the bulls bugling echoes across the mountain terrain. It sends chills down ones spine. Hopefully someday you will have that experience in GSMNP.