Elk have been spotted on our family farm in Eastern Kentucky’s Cumberland Highlands region. The Kentucky Elk Herd was brought into the state in 1997 and, by any measure, the reintroduction has been a huge success. With the minor quibble of motorist running over some of the dumber, slower moving ones on regional roadways.
In a bit of rural, elk-ish Darwinism more than 100 of the creatures have been killed in collisions with vehicles since 2005 Since there are no natural predators to thin the herd, the Elk population has flourished with wildlife science experts estimating that some 10,000 elk call a 16 county, 4.1 million acre area home. Prior to this program, elk had not been seen in Kentucky since 1847.
You haven’t lived til you’ve heard an amorous bull elk bugle at sunset. Chills.
Of course area hunters are ecstatic at taking down one of these trophies. Roark Meats, a slaughterhouse and meat packing company in Knox county has seen dozens of elk brought in to be processed. A big male elk can weigh upwards of 800lbs; that’s a lot of meat for the freezer.
My favored uncle Don has seen elk prints on his farm down on Heifer Creek, he’s unimpressed by the beast’s majesty and will likely dust off his shooting iron if they start to get into his crops.
Eastern Kentucky is a wonderland nowadays with coyote, eastern cottontail rabbit, horned lark, northern harrier, skunks, beavers, yellow-breasted chat, ground hogs, golden-winged warbler, and racoons all frolicking together in the forests of the state like a scene out of a 70’s Disney movie.
But for sheer stateliness, none of these creatures can compare to the king of the Kentucky forests: Cervus elaphus, the once vanquished but now prolific elk.
One day per week I feature a not Austin, Austin Daily Photo. http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Austin-Daily-Photo