South Carolina has a new resident and one that hasn’t been seen since the 1700s.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed reports there is an elk buck in Pickens County which is the first elk sighting in the state in a couple of hundred years says Capt. Billy Downer of the DNR.
Capt. Downer said the elk likely moved down from North Carolina where elk are being reintroduced to the wild but he doesn’t expect to see the elk population to boom.
“There may be some expectation of seeing more in the future but not to the point where you are going to have hundreds of thousands of animals sitting in South Carolina making a sustainable population,” Capt. Downer said.
Elk are predominately grazers, but DNR biologists believe this buck may be interested in the substantial acorn harvest in the Jocassee Gorges area. The elk spotted in Pickens County will likely feed on acorns while he looks for a mate but will probably move back across state lines if he cannot find an elk cow, Downer said.
Downer still considers the first sighting of elk in the state as a big moment for conversationalists in South Carolina. Five years ago legislators amended the state code of laws to protect elk from hunters before they appeared in the region. Downer sees such foresight as a positive mark for his department in being able to predict trends in wildlife migration.
“The thing that we have to be concerned with moving forward though is that if elk continue to move into our state there’s going to be elk-human interaction,” Downer said, “And that’s something we are not used to. We are used to deer.”