A new study shows elk play a key role in small communities in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the United States.
Elk viewing generated approximately $29 million and 400 jobs in the area of Cherokee, North Carolina. Closer analysis shows about a quarter of that impact, or $7 million and 100 jobs, goes directly to the Qualla Boundary, a territory for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Additionally, 80 percent of EBCI members liked having elk around while 42 percent engaged or tried to engage in viewing elk.
Of those surveyed who contribute to or are members of any conservation or sportsmen organization, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ranked first at 26 percent.
RMEF worked with other partners to successfully restore wild, free-ranging elk to their historic range in the Great Smoky Mountains in 2001.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)