Elk sighting has been non-existent in the woods of South Carolina since the time of the Cherokee, with no reports of the animal being in the territory for over two centuries.
The wild elk was seen roaming around Northern Pickens County, and has set the State ablaze with speculation and excitement.
Many believe that the bull is from a herd of Rocky Mountain elk which were reintroduced to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over recent years. He may have been cast out of the herd by another, more dominant male.
In an MSN report, outdoorsman and Pickens County resident Dennis Chastain said that;
“This is a historic moment that some of us knew would eventually come.
This is the first wild elk to roam the woods and wild places in South Carolina since they disappeared in the early 1700’s.”
Carl Walsh, president of the South Carolina chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, took pictures of the animal, which he estimated is about 2 ½ years old, on private property in the Rocky Bottom area.
He believes the bull, which is unafraid of humans, will keep looking for a female until he finds one, although he may have to return to North Carolina to accomplish that.
“Hopefully next time he’ll bring a female with him and we can establish a small herd here in South Carolina,” Walsh said.
Walsh and Chastain worked with the Legislature several years ago to get a bill passed to make it illegal to shoot elk in South Carolina, but this is the first time the law has come into play.
“We’ve had reports before,” McCullough, of the DNR said. “This is the first time I’m aware of that we have confirmed one that had wandered down.”
DNR is warning people not to approach the elk.
“People get a false sense of security, because elk don’t mind being approached,” said Justin McVey, a wildlife biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “But they are still wild animals and can be very dangerous. All it would take is for that elk to swing its antlers, and it could really hurt somebody.”
Numerous social media postings have been made with photos of the elk, some with people feeding the animal, DNR said.
Chastain, who is also a local historian, said, it’s “Unlikely that the woodland buffalo and red wolf, or the Carolina parakeet, the passenger pigeon or the Eastern cougar will ever be restored in Pickens County, but it is pretty cool see the mountain elk come home after 300 years missing in action.”