If at first you don’t succeed, you rally as a community and make it happen.
For the second time in 14 months, six new elk crossing signs went up along U.S. Highway 19 on Soco Mountain in the western part of North Carolina. Thieves stole two of the signs during the summer of 2022.
“We were very fortunate and blessed that many people in Haywood County donated money to replace them,” Joyce Cooper, co-chair of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter (GSMC) of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, told the Mountaineer. “It’s to warn people that elk will be crossing the highway. It’s to save a few lives of the elk.”
Each sign had eight solar-powered, flashing LED lights and cost $1,100. RMEF and the Haywood County Tourism Department Authority supplied original grant funding for the first six signs. After someone stole the two signs, the community rallied to raise $9,000 to not only replace those two, but four more.
GSMC played a key role in restoring elk to their historic range in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding region. Chapter members raised funding leading to the successful release of 25 elk from Kentucky in 2001 and 27 more from Alberta, Canada, in 2002.
Today, there are approximately 200 elk in North Carolina.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
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