It's hard to believe, but it's been ten years since elk returned to the mountains of eastern Kentucky.
It was the largest wildlife restoration project in the history of North America and officials say the next ten years could be even more exciting.
From a population seven to more than seven thousand Elk on the ground in eastern Kentucky.
Wildlife officials say our elk are actually bigger and healthier than those out west, thanks in part to better habitat on reclaimed strip mines.
“One of the few places in the U.S. where you can have elk and bears living together. Most of the eastern U.S. can't handle wildlife species like that this part of Kentucky can handle that, so it's a unique situation,” Doug Hensley said.
Officials say visitors are coming from all over to see our elk.
“When you get people here in September and they can stand on a ridge top and hear these different bulls bugling from one spot,” Hensley said.
Wildlife officials say the future will likely include hunters from all over the world, more people viewing elk, and more tourism dollars in eastern Kentucky.
They are also pushing for a Wildlife Interpretive Center, similar to the Salato Center in Frankfort to be built somewhere in eastern Kentucky with an emphasis on elk.
Officials say they expect the elk herd to grow to ten thousand and believe a world record could be taken here in the next few years.
Wildlife officials say elk poaching hasn't been a huge problem, although some people are in jail right now for doing it.
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