Elk once plentifully roamed the southern Appalachian mountains and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. In Tennessee, the last elk was killed in the mid-1800s. By 1900, the population of elk in North America dropped to the point that hunting groups and conservation organizations became concerned the species was headed for extinction. Elk were reintroduced into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2001 and 2002, 52 total who were transplanted from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border into Cataloochee Cove in the southeast side of the Park, in North Carolina. The herd has grown to approximately 150 animals at present and has extended its territory both and outside the Park, into Cherokee, Maggie Valley, and the Harmon Den area on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Though many of the Smokies herd of elk are collared for tracking and research purposes, they are not tame. This bull elk is resting in a field in Cataloochee.