Reintroduced in 2001, North Carolina’s elk population is on the rise and subsequently, so are human-elk conflicts, particularly with agricultural operations. Growing from the original 52 animals that were reintroduced into the state in both 2001 and 2002, state officials now estimate there to be approximately 150 elk roaming the Tarheel State.
As the population grows, the animals are slowly descending from the mountains from which they were deposited, causing state biologists to come up with solutions for reducing elk-human conflicts.
One such step was the announcement last month of a new public property conveyed by The Conservation Fund that would give elk herds room to grow by providing more natural food sources. While farmland crops are still appealing to the animals, officials are optimistic the 1,925 acre William H. Silver Game Land will keep elk where they belong.
Additionally, the state’s wildlife commission is helping install electric fencing around a number of farms and also provides fencing kits to other farmers who are able to install the fencing themselves. While biologists have already noted that elk seem to be naturally migrating to the new game land, the fencing has proven thus far to be the best line of defense for local farmers.
With a developing population, there remains no open season for hunting the state’s elk, but landowners are within their rights to kill elk and bears that cause property damage and must be reported to state officials within 24 hours.
So far in 2017, there have been three elk deaths, two of which were found on a prominent dairy farm with no signs of gunshot wounds. The third elk was euthanized due to brain worm infection.