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Our elk died on I-26

Hendersonville’s elk did not make it.
The young bull who had left a Maggie Valley herd and migrated east to Henderson County was struck and killed on I-26 just east of exit 49 (U.S. 64) over the weekend.
For several weeks the elk had been wandering for miles in Hendersonville, Laurel Park, Etowah, Fletcher and other areas. Outfitted with a radio collar, the elk was monitored every step of the way by wildlife biologists with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
WTZQ radio manager and morning show host Mark Warwick heard about the elk’s death early Monday morning from a listener, who sent a photo of an elk with a radio collar being loaded onto a rollback flatbed wrecker. The photo was timestamped 8:04 p.m. The first call that a van had hit the elk — calling it "a massive deer" came before dawn on Sunday, said Henderson County sheriff's Maj. Frank Stout. After sunup, a number of other calls came in describing an injured elk against the highway guard rail.

Calls to North Carolina wildlife resources officials and the State Highway Patrol were not immediately returned.
Reintroduced to the North Carolina mountains in the Cataloochee valley in 2000 and 2001, the elk have ranged into cities before.
Mike Carraway, a wildlife biologist for Western North Carolina, expressed concern last week that the elk might cross a busy road.
“I did see that he’s been close to some highways,” he said before the elk’s unfortunate attempt to cross I-26. “We’d rather him not be close to highways.”
He added that it’s not uncommon for elk to lose their fear of civilization and wander in urban areas.
“There’s a lot in Maggie Valley that’ll walk right down the mid of the street,” he said. “They’re just not afraid. They’ve been around people are they’re not afraid.”

Residents had spotted the bull in Etowah, Laurel Park, on the Hendersonville Country Club golf course and in the Foxwood neighborhood off Stoney Mountain Road, among other locations.
Although some people have been reporting seeing a pair of elks, Carraway had no information confirming that.
“It’s certainly possible because we don’t have collars on all of them,” he said. “I think we’ve got a total of 12 collars. We try to put one collar on every little herd of elk because they typically hang out in little herds. We try to keep one collar on every little sub-herd just to try to keep track of them.”
The reintroduced herd has grown but is still relatively small.
“We estimate a total of about 160 and that includes the national park and outside the national park,” he said.
Elk can roam far from their home.
“We’ve had elk that showed up in WNC that came all the way from Kentucky,” he said. “We have had elk show up from other places.”
A much bigger elk reintroduction in Kentucky has grown to as many as 10,000 elk, Carraway said.
The elk's demise brought an outpouring of sad-faced emoticons and lamentation on Facebook.
“The death of the Elk on I-26 has made me very sad,” the photographer Chuck Hill said. “Of course there are worse things going on in the world... even in the area, but this death has made me very sad.”
“So sorry to hear this, Chuck!” Gwen Freeman said. “Had so hoped he’d have his walkabout and go back to Cataloochee.”
Farrell Beam added: “Just consider this...he made it all the way from Cataloochee. I thought the other day about the streams and rivers he had to cross. The mountains and valleys he trekked. I'm sure he probably had to cross a road or two and until he got to I-26, he was successful. The freedom he must have felt and also the loneliness. It is sad that this magnificent animal and other animals are needlessly killed on the roads and highways.”