Tennessee’s Elk: A Success Story

Elk were once extinct in Tennessee, but they’ve made a remarkable comeback!

We love our native wildlife!

Did you know that Tennessee is home to a herd of over 400 wild elk? They’re one of our state’s most amazing conservation success stories.

Elk once roamed Tennessee in herds numbering in the thousands. Unmanaged hunting caused their numbers to plummet, as did the destruction of the prairies and forests they depended on for their survival. The very last native Tennessean elk was killed in 1865, and by 1880, the subspecies that once roamed the Eastern United States was extinct.

That could have been the very end, but it wasn’t! Beginning in the 1990s, TWRA started working to restore specific areas of the state so that they could once again sustain wild elk. Over the course of many years, TWRA imported over 200 individuals, of a subspecies closely related to our extinct native elk, from Canada. Their populations thrived and elk are now doing very well in some parts of the state.

The success of Tennessee’s elk conservation proves that people can work together to protect and restore our natural world.

Have you been lucky enough to see a wild elk in Tennessee?

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