I recently talked to someone whose camera quit working while we were on this big adventure, so I'm adding some more photos for her viewing enjoyment. On the right is one of the Fish and Wildlife commissioners, holding the device he uses to imitate the call of the elk.
Elk herd from a distance.
The group heading back to the vans.
A bit of coal visible in this rock.
Elk were once abundant in Kentucky but disappeared around 1850, the result of unregulated hunting and the loss of habitat to buildings, roads, etc. Beginning in 1997 with seven elk from Kansas, elk have been reintroduced, thanks to the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife and the generosity of the donating western states. Those Kansas elk were the first wave of the largest wildlife restoration ever attempted on the North American continent.
In 2007, 300 elk hunting permits were issued. The number has been increased each year in order to keep the herd in check. The elk are flourishing in eastern Kentucky; they average 15 percent larger than their kin out west. Why? Because they have no natural predators here ; more food is available; the terrain is kinder; and the winters are milder.
I took these photos early one morning in November, 2007. I was on an elk-viewing tour near Pine Mountain, Kentucky, part of a Becoming an Outdoors Woman event.
[The elk information in this post is from a BOW lecture presented by State Wildlife Biologist Steve Beam.]