Eastern Elk and Bison  

== 2 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 8:32 am
From: Beth Koebel
 [Regarding Elk at Lone Elk Park, MO]

They are not truly "wild" as they are in one big huge pen.  One part of the park is for the bison and the other part is for the elk.  I don't know what keeps the elk from jumping over the fence or the bison from running through the fence, but there are grates that you drive over at the gates so I assume that is what stops them from walking on out.
"He plants trees to benefit another generation." --Caecilius Statius
--- On Sat, 12/13/08, Mark  wrote:
Wow! I honestly had no idea that there were any wild elk or bison in
Missouri. Do you know if they've been reintroduced, or are part of a
continuous local population?


== 5 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 11:05 am
From: James Parton
Here in WNC we have two places with elk. Cataloochee Valley &
Cherokee. To the best of my knowledge both populations are wild and
unpinned, though many have gotten used to spectators.

== 6 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 11:39 am
From: JamesRobertSmith
There are wild ranging elk in Arkansas. Probably in Missouri, too, but
I'm not sure.
The nearest place to this part of the country where there are wild
ranging bison would be Oklahoma, I think. There are bison in Land
Between the Lakes in Kentucky, but I don't know if they're free
The elk in the Smokies are free roaming, but all save the smallest
newborn are collared. I've never seen an adult Smoky Mountain elk that
wasn't sporting a radio collar. One reason I'll go back to Cataloochee
is to see the elk (and try not to think of all the grand old

== 7 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 12:19 pm
From: "Edward Frank"
There are free ranging elk in Pennsylvania. Historically they were present, but exterminated in the 1800's. They were re-introduced in 1913 by the PA Game Commission.
In 1913, the Game Commission began reintroducing elk. Elk from Yellowstone National Park, South Dakota, and a private preserve in Pennsylvania were released here until 1926. During those 13 years, 177 elk were released into the wilds of the central and northeastern parts of the state, but only in the northcentral did the population take hold. In 1923 a hunting season was established, but the season was closed in 1932 due to dwindling numbers of elk. From 1923 until 1932, hunters took 98 bulls, and another 78 elk were killed illegally or for crop damage. The elk roaming the mountains of northcentral Pennsylvania today are the progeny of the animals that remained. By autumn of 2007 Pennsylvania was home to more than 700 elk - the largest herd in the Northeast United States. Today, the elk population may be even more widespread than it was in the mid-1800s. Elk can be found in parts of Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton and Potter counties, inhabiting more than 700 square miles.
You can see them almost every night at certain viewing areas in Elk County such as the Wilson Hill Viewing area.
Ed Frank
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== 8 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 12:53 pm
From: "Paul Jost"
I believe that all elk in the eastern U.S. were originally the now extinct woodland or eastern elk subspecies. All elk present in the eastern Great Plains and east of the Mississippi River were reintroduced with the Rocky Mountain Elk subspecies from the western states.
The only continuously existing bison herd in the U.S. is at Yellowstone N.P. There is one other one in Canada. Others were removed from the wild in the late 1800's for reintroduction efforts.
Paul J.

== 9 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 1:40 pm
From: "Edward Frank"
Paul, ENTS,
The subject of extinct sub-species of bison ad elk from eastern United States is more complicated than it might first appear.
There are 3 sub-species of buffalo (Bison) The plains buffalo,bison bison bison, the Woods buffalo,Bison bison athabaca Rhoads, and the Eastern buffalo, Bison bison pennsyvanicus. Some mammalogists distinguish a fourth race,the mountain bison, Bison bison haningtoni Figgins which was peculiar to the mountains of Colorado.The eastern race of Pennsylvania,Maryland, and Virginia were extinct by 1815.
Here is a description of the range of the eastern species:
Eastern Wood Bison -Bison bison pennsylvanicus- extinct c.1825
Throughout the eastern woodlands and as far south at least as Georgia lived a large bison, very dark with not such a hump as the plains bison. Its demise was due to hunting and habitat destruction. By 1790 they had been reduced to one herd numbering 300-400 animals in Pennsylvania. They were slaughtered in the "Sink", a large hollow in the White Mountains of Union County in the dreadful winter of 1799-1800. The following year a bull cow and calf were seen in the same county. The bull (shot the next year) was the last known in the state. A few stragglers remained in West Virginia, one killed near Charleston in 1815 but none others were reported until 1825 when a cow and a calf were killed at Valley Head, the source of the Tygart River. These were the last Eastern Wood Bison in the U.S. Some Wood Bison were preserved in Canada until WWII when they interbred with plains bison that were introduced to "strengthen" the herd. There is rumored to be some left in the Northern Territories.
One question posed about the eastern woods bison is whether or not it really is a valid subspecies:
Canadian Biodiversity http://biology.mcgill.ca/undergra/c465a/biodiver/2001/wood-bison/wood-bison.htm
At one point, van Zyll de Jong (1986) concluded that the phenotypic discontinuity between grassland and woodland populations fully justified the recognition of the two current subspecies of bison. On the other hand, Geist (1996) concluded that the wood bison was a phantom subspecies. He found that wood bison transformed miraculously into perfectly good "plains bison" when they were removed from Elk Island National Park and put in captivity or in the wild. He argues that wood bison is not a subspecies but rather an ecotype reflecting environmental conditions due to confinement and shortage of nutrients, stopping them from finishing growing their hair coats. Polziehn et al. (1996) found a lack of monophyly in bison. This suggests that the bison subspecies have only been recently separated from each other, making it very difficult to have well-defined taxa for each subspecies. Thus, defining the subspecies and detecting hybridization is less effective and hard to accomplish.
van Zyll de Jong, C.G. 1986. A systematic study of recent bison, with particular consideration of the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae, Rhoads 1898). National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.
Geist, V. 1996. Buffalo nation: History and legend of the North American bison. Voyageur Press, Stillwater, Minnesota.
Polziehn, R.O., R. Beech, J. Sheraton and C. Strobeck. 1996. Genetic relationships among North American bison populations. Can. J. Zool. 74: 738-749.
Similarly we can look at the question of Eastern Elk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_elk  The Eastern elk (Cervus canadensis canadiensis) is one of six subspecies of elk that inhabited northern and eastern United States, and southern Canada. The last Eastern Elk was shot in Pennsylvania on September 1, 1877. The subspecies was declared as extinct by the USFWS in 1880. The Eastern Elk was larger than its western cousins. A full-grown bull could weigh up to 1200 pounds, stand five feet tall at the shoulder, and carry a rack of antlers six feet in length. By the late 1400s, elk were the most widespread ungulate (hoofed animal) in the New World and could be found throughout most of North America. Eastern elk inhabited the vast forests of eastern Canada and the eastern United States as far west as the Mississippi River. As people continued to settle in the region over the next few centuries, elk populations decreased due to over-hunting and the loss of their dense woodland habitat. Naturalist John James Audubon reportedly mentioned that by 1851 a few elk could still be found in the Alleghany Mountains but that they were virtually gone from the remainder of their range. By the end of the nineteenth century the Eastern elk was completely extinct. What little is known about this race of elk has been gleaned from skeletal remains and historical references.
Again there is the question of whether there was a geneticly distinct subspecies of Elk in eastern United States
Known Range of Eastern Elk and Probable Dates of Extinction
Whether or not eastern elk were truly a distinct subspecies is a matter of debate. Ever since Swedish naturalist Carolus Lennaeus founded the modern system of classifying animals in the mid-l8th century, taxonomists have argued over just what exactly species and subspecies are. All that said, most elk biologists accept the existence of four subspecies currently living in North America and two considered extinct. After elk crossed the Bering land bridge more than a million years ago, entering North America from Siberia, they spread throughout most of Canada and the United States and went through two periods of isolation during which different subspecies may have evolved. The first, known as the Wisconsin glacial stage, lasted about 70,000 years. The second, following the glaciation, lasted about 10,000 years. The periods of isolation created four different populations: Roosevelt's elk along the northwest coast, tule elk in western and interior California, the now-extinct Merriam's elk of the Southwest and northern Mexico and another group, the largest, which roamed much of the United States and Canada east of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. This larger group may have been further isolated into three more groups when formation of the Great Plains divided the forests of the East from those of the West. The flat, open country of the plains, with its deep snow and cold winds, may have scattered the large herd as bands of elk split off and sought better forage and cover.
Now to the crux of the matter, Is the eastern Elk really extinct:
In 1905, 18 elk were introduced to Fjordland National Park in New Zealand -- a gift from Theodore Roosevelt. The elk were survivors of an original shipment of 20, half of which came from Yellowstone National Park and half from a game reserve in Massachusetts owned by an Indian agent named H.E. Richardson. The latter are believed to be eastern elk captured in northern Minnesota by Native Americans. John A. Anderson, a New Zealander who has studied Fjordland elk since the early 1960s, says the possible eastern elk bloodline might explain some unusual characteristics he has seen in New Zealand elk, such as "bifurcated" antlers in which the dagger, or fourth point, forks at the tip.
All of this is an interesting story, and one that will continue to be debated.
Ed Frank
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science." - Albert Einstein

== 10 of 10 ==
Date: Sun, Dec 14 2008 2:06 pm
From: "Edward Frank"
ENTS, Paul,
I guess I want to add that there is very little material remaining from the extinct Eastern Elk that is suitable for genetic testing. Thus there has only been a few samples tested and that really is not enough to determine as of yet whether it was a genetically distinct sub-species of elk or not. Mush of what we know about the appearance of the species is from a painting by James Audubon in his mammals series.
There has been some suggestions that there may actually be some isolated populations of native Eastern Elk in wild areas of southern Ontario. That is, in my inexpert opinion, unlikely but can not be ruled out entirely.
Ed Frank
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science." - Albert Einstein