GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - A spokesman for the SC Department of Natural Resources confirmed Friday that an elk from the herd in Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been visiting Greenville County.
FOX Carolina reached out to DNR after receiving a photo of the animal that a concerned viewer snapped in the northern part of Greenville County.
Below is what Greg Lucas, DNR spokesperson, had to say about the animal:
"That is indeed an elk. It is part of the herd from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it has crossed over from North Carolina to South Carolina. The harness is a GPS radio collar. It’s been with us for about two weeks. It’s hanging out in the Greenville Watershed, but it keeps popping up in various places. That elk herd is a partnership between the National Park Service and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. They are not going to intervene unless the elk gets in an urban situation and endangers people and/or itself. We are hoping it will go back to North Carolina!
SCDNR is not currently trying to establish an elk population. We once had elk in South Carolina, but they disappeared many years ago, probably in the 1800s, due to overhunting and habitat destruction. It is illegal to shoot (an elk) in South Carolina, and I don’t know the exact fines and punishment, but it would be severe."
Lucas said another elk from the herd in North Carolina moved to South Carolina about seven years ago. That animal was eventually relocated to the zoo at Patriots Point in Charleston.
We spike with Jason Redding, who says he spotted the elk. He says the experience was an interesting one, to say the least.
“It’s always cool to see an animal like that, especially 10 feet away, but it’s a little scary too,” he said. “A week or two ago there were tons of pears on there. He had to eat probably 100 pounds of pears. He was standing right here and you can see everything on this side of the tree is gone."
“I really didn’t believe it then we did a little research on it and saw that it was an elk. It was surprising to see him out here because we never have seen anything like this around this area," Redding added.