Celebrating a Sight That’s Been Missing for 275 Years
by Amy Lignor
While millions of joyous fans celebrate the Chicago Cubs victory of winning the World Series after 108 years, there is something else being celebrated in the lovely state of South Carolina. Here, the celebration is global – making the entire population of the world that loves and fights for the animal community smile with glee. It has been over two hundred years since this particular occurrence was last documented. This past week, South Carolina had its first elk sighting in over two centuries! And being that it’s 2016 and the age of technology, this bull elk’s travels are also being traced on social media for everyone to see.
At one time this area was Cherokee territory – a time when spotting wild elk was not rare. But this species had a rough time of it, like so many others, so to set eyes on a wild bull elk roaming the woodlands is literally amazing. It is a fact that settlers in South Carolina back in the late 1600’s had an abundance of elk as their next-door neighbors. Unfortunately, they were just one type of animal that was shot in order to provide humans with both clothing and food at that time.
Although not a descendent of the original species that once inhabited the area, this elk is more likely to have been ostracized by the incredibly dominant males that are part of a herd of Rocky Mountain elk – a particular species that has actually been re-established in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The president of the South Carolina chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, estimates that the elk which has appeared is between two and three years of age. Making tracks on a piece of private property in the Rocky Bottom area, this elk has provided a truly historic moment for one and all.
Oddly enough, even with their demise and how it occurred, the bull elk seems unafraid. It looks almost as if he’s searching for a female to begin a herd of his own. Whether or not he’ll have to move on to another state to find one remains up in the air. But South Carolina is hoping that if he must move on to find a mate, then the bull elk will return back to their state with his significant other to set up camp, so to speak.
There are warnings not to approach the elk whatsoever. Even though they seem more than friendly, the word “wild” is in the species’ name for a reason. Just by swinging their antlers, they could cause harm to a human being. And hunters beware. Not only is social media all over this elk and following him wherever he goes, but it is also a fact that a bill was passed several years ago (in hopes that this would one day occur) that makes it absolutely illegal to shoot elk in the state.
A wildlife biologist stated that the animal may weigh up to 700 pounds, so an extra warning has been sent out to all motorists to be careful while driving on the roads where the elk was spotted, especially during the hours of sunrise and sunset when the animal has been seen most often.
There is a long list of species that have not appeared in this county/area of South Carolina for some time. From the woodland buffalo to the red wolf, animals that were once abundant have gone the way of the Dodo bird. So as you hear the chants for the Cubs coming from the mouths of Chicago sports fans everywhere, just take a moment to remember the voices raising in celebration for the wild bull elk who has finally, finally, arrived back home.
Source: Baret News